NFC North: Marc Ross

We're Black and Blue All Over

So the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox -- er, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots -- will meet in Super Bowl XLVI. We here in the NFC North have a very East-Coast title game to look forward to. (Or not.) Don't worry. We have plenty to keep us busy here in the Midwest.

Tops on the list is the Chicago Bears' search for a general manager, which you would think could near its conclusion this week. The Bears interviewed five candidates for the job last week, including current director of player personnel Tim Ruskell, and probably would have either a second round of interviews this week or simply make a decision.

Stay tuned on that one. The other candidates include Marc Ross (Giants), Jason Licht (New England Patriots), Jimmy Raye III (San Diego Chargers) and Phil Emery (Kansas City Chiefs).

Continuing around the NFC North:
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Matt Forte's appearance Wednesday on ESPN 1000 seemed mostly optimistic to me. The Chicago Bears tailback seems to understand the likelihood he will receive a franchise tag this offseason and realizes it could prove a tool to ultimately get a long-term contract negotiated.

But if the Bears franchise him not for the purpose of negotiations, but instead as their final decision on how to compensate him in 2012, there could be trouble.

Forte: "A lot of teams franchise guys so that they can get a deal done or negotiate a deal. It just depends on what the motive of that is."

The franchise tag for running backs this offseason is expected to be a little less than $8 million. If it seems clear the Bears plan to pay him that salary, with no credible offer for an extension beyond the 2012 season, Forte implied he might not be in training camp on time.

"I wouldn't say holdout," he said, "but people probably wouldn't know where I was."

You say tomato, I say tomahto.

This is a discussion that can't begin in earnest until the Bears hire a new general manager.

Continuing around the NFC North:
We're Black and Blue All Over:

The Minnesota Vikings' search for a new defensive coordinator hasn't yet turned up an answer.

The first known candidate they interviewed, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris, joined the Washington Redskins on Wednesday. Their second candidate, Mel Tucker, is wanted back in his old job as the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive coordinator. Former St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has been rumored as a third candidate, but other teams are competing for his services.

That would leave Vikings assistant head coach/linebackers Mike Singletary as a potential fallback candidate. Singletary is a close friend of coach Leslie Frazier dating back to their playing days with the Chicago Bears.

I wouldn't assume that Tucker is headed back to the Jaguars, who promoted him to interim head coach last season but then passed over him for their head-coaching job. And for what it's worth, the team still hasn't confirmed any move on incumbent Fred Pagac. Stay tuned.

Continuing around the NFC North:
The Chicago Bears have released a preliminary list of candidates to replace former general manager Jerry Angelo. All four have been granted permission to interview with the team, but a statement on the Bears' website made clear that additional candidates have not been ruled out and that current director of player personnel Tim Ruskell remains in play.

The four outsiders are:
I don't want to pass much judgment on this list because I don't totally know what the Bears are up to. It's unusual for a team to announce its full slate of candidates for such an important job. Is this a new era of transparency? Or could there be a stealth candidate they're distracting us from? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but lots of crazy stuff happens this time of year. Could it be an attempt to demonstrate due diligence before ultimately hiring Ruskell?

There have been rumblings that Ruskell has a better-than-even chance to get the job. Let's just say that the Bears haven't stacked the deck with this pool. None of the four has experience as a general manager.

The most intriguing candidate might be Ross, who has been a rising star since the Philadelphia Eagles made him the league's youngest college scouting director in 2000, when he was 27. He is a Princeton graduate and has a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts.

Stay tuned.

BBAO: January blog priorities

January, 9, 2012
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Good morning. With three quarters of the NFC North now officially into their offseason, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone of our priorities here on the NFC North blog. (Not that I don't expect and welcome your usual stream of suggestions, of course.)

We'll spend more time on playoff games than anything else. That means the percentages will shift a bit toward the Green Bay Packers until their season ends, whenever that may be. A good part of this week, then, will be about the Packers' upcoming divisional game against the New York Giants. Some of you might not be interested, but hang in there.

Our second priority is reacting to front office and coaching news. That means we'll keep a regular eye on the Chicago Bears' general manager search, the state of the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coaching staff and any changes that might occur for the Detroit Lions. The Vikings' stadium push will also be on our front burner.

Finally, when we have a chance, we'll circle back on some of our preseason themes to evaluate how they worked out.

For now, of course, let's take a morning spin around local coverage in the division:
  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The 2011 Packers don't have many reasons to dwell on the NFC Championship Game loss to the New York Giants four years ago, but they won't be able to avoid the growing sentiment that their upcoming divisional playoff game against the Giants is headed in the same direction."
  • The Packers knew they would face an opponent they had already played in the regular season. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette looks at whether that's an advantage.
  • Packers receiver Greg Jennings, appearing on ESPN 1050 in New York, chose his current quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) over his previous one (Brett Favre).
  • Minnesota lawmakers are increasingly telling the Vikings that their plan to build a stadium in suburban Arden Hills won't work, according to Baird Helgeson of the Star Tribune.
  • Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said that "nothing" is off the table in rebuilding the team, according to
  • Vikings coach Leslie Frazier will coach the North team at the Senior Bowl.
  • The Bears are considering two former coaches of quarterback Jay Cutler for their quarterbacks coach/passing coordinator job, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. They are Jeremy Bates and Jedd Fisch.
  • Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders whether Giants college scouting director Marc Ross could emerge as a candidate for the Bears' general manager job.
  • It's possible the Bears will go with Jerry Angelo protégé Tim Ruskell for the job, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
  • The New Orleans Saints had success Saturday night running at Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, notes Justin Rogers of
  • The Lions need to assess some of their shortcomings this offseason, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
  • John Niyo of the Detroit News: "For the Lions, this season's success -- a 10-win campaign capped by the franchise's first playoff spot since 1999 -- can't be viewed as anything more than a first step. Not if they want to get where they're going."

Packers exec on Seattle's GM list

January, 10, 2010
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Greetings from University of Phoenix Stadium, where players are just starting to walk on the field for pregame warmups. Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin isn’t one of them, however. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Boldin (knee, ankle) is unlikely to play.

One Packers note to pass along: ESPN’s John Clayton reports that Green Bay director of football operations John Schneider is under consideration for the Seahawks general manager job, presumably under new coach/president Pete Carroll. Other candidates include Pittsburgh executive Omar Kahn and New York Giants college scouting director Marc Ross.