NFC North: Marty Mornhinweg
Devin Hester was pleased to finish at No. 32 on the NFL Network's list of the top 100 players.
Matt Forte has some advice for quarterback Jay Cutler. "What he has to do is forget what happened, and I think he already has," Forte said Thursday on the 'Carmen, Jurko & Harry' radio show on ESPN 1000. "Just seeing him out when we were running routes, he's 100 percent throwing the ball just like he's always done, taking drops and looks very good. So he has to forget about what happened, and continue to play at that high level he was at winning all those games last year. I think he's going to come out and do that."
Marty Mornhinweg has come a long way since his days as the Lions' head coach.
Senior personnel executive James "Shack" Harris is going to be inducted into the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame.
Green Bay Packers
Which current Packers have a shot at some day being enshrined in Canton, Ohio? Vic Ketchman shares his thoughts.
Is a special legislative session the Vikings' best bet for action on a new stadium?
Uh-oh. Another late-game collapse led two veteran players -- both in their first years with the Detroit Lions -- to call out teammates for accepting the organization's long-term losing culture. Nose tackle Corey Williams and cornerback Chris Houston both suggested there is not enough heart in the team's locker room.
Williams, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "There's a bunch of guys that need to be called out. A bunch of guys need to look in the mirror, realize that there's more to it than just playing in the NFL. There's more to it than getting paid. You got guys, everybody out here got their career on the line, you know what I mean? You can easily take your last snap at any moment, so I think guys need to take it more serious. I don't think guys take it serious enough."
Houston: "When adversity hits, everybody can't hold their head down. Leaders got to step up and lead. When adversity hits on the team, you kind of see it in some guys' body language, here we go again. You can just tell. So we just got to have heart and know that when adversity hits we got to keep on fighting."
After watching Thursday's 45-24 loss to the New England Patriots, it would be difficult to disagree with either sentiment. Whether we heard it from the right messengers is a separate issue.
Williams, for one, has been a part of a really good defensive line this year, but he committed another two encroachment penalties Thursday, bringing his season total to nine. He has 10 penalties overall.
We'll hit this issue in more depth a bit later in our Free Head Exam. For now, let's take our post-Thanksgiving spin around the division:
- Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith took full blame for his horrendous performance, saying he was being "selfish" by peeking into the backfield when he had deep responsibility on what became a 79-yard touchdown pass to Patriots receiver Deion Branch. Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News has more.
- Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "Some can be pinned on team leaders, but ultimately it gets pinned on the coach. [Jim] Schwartz is 4-23, the same dreary level as Rod Marinelli (10-38) and Marty Mornhinweg (5-27). He's a better coach than those two, but we can't keep saying that if the evidence doesn't support it."
- Schwartz on the team's penalty totals, via Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com: "The fact is, when you're a 2-9 football team, you're not going to get those calls. When you're a 9-2 team, you're going to get those calls. That's the way the NFL is. It's close games and we don't have the reputation of being a team that makes those plays. We need to make those plays and then complain about officiating."
- Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune offers this outstanding line: "If it's true chicks dig the long ball, how did Jay Cutler attract Kristin Cavallari?" Cutler has only one completion over 30 yards this season.
- All Bears players had full participation in practice Thursday, reports Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
- Bears tight end Greg Olsen remains on track to catch more passes than any tight end in the Mike Martz offense, notes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "You check out Frank Zombo's bio and look up to see him starting at right outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers and you wonder: How in the world did the dots ever get connected?"
- The Packers are hoping for significant contributions from running back Dimitri Nance, writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com tells the amazing story of Packers safety Charlie Peprah, whose family fled Ghana in 1978.
- The Minnesota Vikings are working to protect young cornerbacks Asher Allen and Chris Cook, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
- Since 1990, interim head coaches in the NFL have gone 51-111 for the remainder of the season in which they took over, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
- Don't totally rule out Donovan McNabb as a future quarterback option for the Vikings, writes Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
|Drew Hallowell/Getty Images|
|There will be plenty of similarities on display when Brad Childress' Vikings and Andy Reid's Eagles square off Sunday.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
When it came time to make his first big decision as Minnesota's new owner, Zygi Wilf looked east and hatched a plan. He would figure out a way to spell "Vikings" using "E-A-G-L-E-S."
In January 2006, Wilf made plans to hire Philadelphia's offensive coordinator as the Vikings' head coach and its linebackers coach as his new defensive coordinator. He wanted the Eagles' top personnel man as his general manager, and he was sold on the personnel and schematic approach -- draft a young quarterback to run the West Coast offense, upgrade the offensive line and blitz the bejeezus out of opponents -- that has made the Eagles a playoff team in seven of the past nine seasons.
"What we wanted was to be a first-class organization," Wilf said. "We wanted an organization that was patient and did things the right way with a goal of being a consistent winner that could challenge first for the division championship, and then for the Super Bowl, every season. We still have improvements to make, but that's always been what we have strived for."
As it turned out, Wilf hired Brad Childress as his head coach but couldn't lure talent evaluator Tom Heckert to be his general manager. The Eagles blocked Childress from hiring Steve Spagnuolo as his defensive coordinator, but a year later Childress tapped another former Philadelphia assistant -- Leslie Frazier -- for the job.
And in building the team that will host the Eagles on Sunday at the Metrodome, Childress has emulated his former employers on a number of levels. Among them:
- Signing a prominent free agent offensive lineman to a mega-deal with hopes he would add a level of nastiness to the offense. The Eagles did it in 2000 with right tackle Jon Runyan. The Vikings followed in 2006 by acquiring left guard Steve Hutchinson.
- Drafting a quarterback early in his tenure and put him on the developmental fast track. The Eagles had Donovan McNabb in the starting lineup by Week 10 of his rookie season. Tarvaris Jackson started the final two games as a rookie in 2006.
- Hiring all of his athletic trainers as well as his strength and conditioning staff from Philadelphia. Eagles coach Andy Reid blocked Childress from taking any position coaches to Minnesota, but several Vikings assistants nevertheless have Eagles ties. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy played for them in 1999, Childress' first year as an assistant in Philadelphia. The Vikings' current quarterbacks coach, Kevin Rogers, was McNabb's position coach at Syracuse. And tight ends coach Jimmie Johnson was once an Eagles intern.
- Authorizing Frazier to mix creative blitz packages into the Vikings' cover-2 base defense. Frazier played in Chicago's "46" defense of the 1980s, but he learned the fundamentals of blitz schemes from Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson while serving as Philadelphia's defensive backs coach from 1999-02.
- Calling his own plays during the 2006 season, as Reid always did in Philadelphia. And coincidence or otherwise, Childress handed those duties to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell not long after Reid gave that role to Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.