NFC North: Juan Castillo

Mike Singletary: Fired or promoted?

January, 16, 2012
1/16/12
10:15
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At some point, presumably soon, the Minnesota Vikings will wrap up what has already been a two-week review of their defensive coaching staff and determine a direction for 2012. To this point, however, we have a better idea of who won't be a part of it than who will.

The latest domino to drop is coordinator Fred Pagac, whom the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported was fired Friday. The Vikings offered Pagac a job as their linebackers coach, however, a demotion that calls into question the status of current assistant head coach/linebackers Mike Singletary.

NFL teams occasionally make courtesy offers to fired coordinators, fully expecting them to be turned down. But even if that was the case with Pagac, the Vikings couldn't have done it without already having made a decision on Singletary. As we discussed Monday, it wouldn't be surprising to hear that Singletary has been fired or that he has been promoted to defensive coordinator. The fact that both possibilities are legitimately on the table provides powerful commentary on the state of the coaching staff at the moment.

At least two outside candidates who interviewed for the coordinator job have signed on elsewhere. Raheem Morris joined the Washington Redskins as their defensive backs coach, and Mel Tucker remained in his job as the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive coordinator. Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com has reported that current Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo could emerge as a candidate as well.

The Vikings will coach the North team at the Senior Bowl, where the festivities begin a week from Monday. Stay tuned.

BBAO: What now for Vikings DC?

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
7:25
AM ET
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Mel Tucker's decision late Thursday night to return to the Jacksonville Jaguars as their defensive coordinator leaves the Minnesota Vikings without either of the two outsiders they're known to have interviewed for a job that Fred Pagac apparently will soon vacate. (Raheem Morris, who joined the Washington Redskins as a defensive backs coach, is the other.)

Assistant head coach/linebackers Mike Singletary remains an internal candidate, but Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com reports there are serious internal concerns about his aptitude for the job and suggests coach Leslie Frazier might turn to Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo if he leaves his job, as reported.

Frazier and Castillo worked together on the Eagles staff from 1990-2002. Castillo was a longtime offensive line coach whom the Eagles turned to last winter in a surprise move to replace the fired Sean McDermott. Reports have suggested that the Eagles plan to bring back former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in that role. Stay tuned on that one.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will make a recommendation on a site for a new Vikings stadium next week, according to Doug Belden of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • There is a significant split among Minnesota political leaders about whether the speed of the stadium issue is sustainable, according to the Star Tribune.
  • With a healthy team, the biggest playoff decision Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has is whom to deactivate on game day. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains.
  • Packers cornerback Charles Woodson would like to establish a rare legacy, writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press Gazette. Woodson: "That's why I play like I play. Because when people watch me play, I want them to say, 'Now that’s how you play football.' Every time I step on the field, every time I strap 'em up, I'm going out there to make an impression on people about how I play football and my passion for it. And how much I love the game and how much I'm willing to sacrifice out there for my teammates and our coaches and this team. I think about it all the time."
  • Packers left tackle Chad Clifton has drawn a tough playoff assignment: New York Giants All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette has more.
  • Rookie kick returner Randall Cobb could be the Packers' X factor in the playoffs, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
  • Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew on the team's rebuilding effort, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "I think we’re on schedule. We've gotten to the point where I think we're certainly a better-than-average football team."
  • The Lions need to address receiver Calvin Johnson's contract situation, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News.
  • The Lions will soon address the contract of coach Jim Schwartz, which expires after the 2012 season, according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
  • The Chicago Bears won't consider Jeremy Bates for their quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator job, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
  • ESPNChicago.com staff members debate whether Tim Ruskell is a legitimate candidate for the Bears' general manager job.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Normally I like to provide a snippet of any ESPN.com feature I bring to your attention. But Wright Thompson's profile of, yes, a very special house can't be excerpted. It's something you need to read in full, a moving tome to Vince Lombardi and the home his family lived in during his time in Green Bay -- one he sold in 1969 and is still visited by devoted followers to this day.

Members of the family who bought the house from Lombardi still live there. John Madden once offered to buy it.

Thompson has a rare way with words, and you'll feel the full range of emotions when you read it. You've got time. We still have almost four full days until Super Bowl XLV.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Greg Bishop of The New York Times speaks with former Packers general manager Ron Wolf about current general manager Ted Thompson. Wolf: "The fact that he's been able to cut and paste a championship team together, considering all the players they lost, is remarkable. These days, you just don't see that."
  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu and Green Bay's Charles Woodson see a different game and have the nerve to act on what they see. Not only do their brains and their boldness stamp them as unique players, the combination also won the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year award for Woodson in 2009 and for Polamalu in 2010. Each has the cunning, the vast experience and the athletic gifts to emerge as the most valuable player in the 45th Super Bowl on Sunday. By the same token, each could be the goat."
  • The Packers are hoping to keep their talented defensive coaching staff together this offseason, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • Packers defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins hasn't heard from his father in over a month, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
  • The Chicago Bears will have a decision to make on quarterback Caleb Hanie this offseason, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Bears tailback Matt Forte deserves a new contract, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler took a pain-killing shot at halftime of the NFC Championship Game in an attempt to continue playing on a knee injury, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is recovering well from shoulder surgery, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles' decision to move Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator means the Minnesota Vikings will keep defensive backs coach Joe Woods, who had interviewed for the job, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.

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