NFC North: Mike Holmgren

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The best way to get to the street that will be named after Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is to travel west on Lombardi Avenue and take a left turn onto Holmgren Way.

Clearly, the new Mike McCarthy Way will be located in the right neighborhood.

McCarthy is finally getting what the two previous Packers coaches who won Super Bowls have – a road that bears his name.

Just like Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren, there will be a street near Lambeau Field named for the current Packers coach. More than three years after leading the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV, McCarthy will have a stretch of what is currently Potts Avenue in the village of Ashwaubenon named after him.

The Ashwaubenon Village Board approved the change on Tuesday night. However, the change could be at least a year away, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, because some businesses located along the street are concerned that the cost of changing their address will be detrimental to their operations.

It has been a three-year long process for Green Bay-area government officials, headed by Mayor Jim Schmitt, to find a street to name after McCarthy, who is set to begin his ninth season as the Packers' head coach. Throughout the process, McCarthy tried to deflect attention away from himself and did not want the process to distract from his team.

In fact, when it was first proposed in 2011 shortly after the Super Bowl victory, McCarthy asked that it not be done during the season.

"I'm flattered," McCarthy said at the time. "It's an unbelievable gesture. But in my opinion, it's something that I'd like to see done in the offseason."

Packers' biggest key to success

July, 10, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are well positioned to contend in the NFC over the next several years because they have perhaps the NFL’s three most important components in place: Their quarterback, coach and general manager.

Rodgers
Rodgers
Their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is 30 years old and should be in the prime of his career. He is barely more than a year into a five-year, $110 million contract extension that should keep him in Green Bay through the 2019 season. Among quarterbacks who have started in the Super Bowl in the last five years, only three are younger than Rodgers.

Their coach, Mike McCarthy, is entering his ninth season. Only three NFL coaches have been with their current teams longer, giving the Packers stability and continuity in their game plans and schemes. McCarthy has two years left on a five-year deal he signed after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV and is still relatively young in coaching circles at age 50.

Their general manager, Ted Thompson, is entering his 10th season. Like McCarthy, he signed a five-year contract extension following the Super Bowl victory. Although Thompson is 11 years older than McCarthy, he said after this year’s draft that he has no intention of retiring any time soon.

Myriad other things make up a championship team, but none is more important than the quarterback-coach-GM trio. An elite quarterback automatically gives a team a chance. Combine that with an experienced, successful coach who has the trust of his players and a proven system, plus a general manager with a solid track record in the draft and free agency, and the Packers are a team that should be an annual contender.

The Packers had the same type of combination in the 1990s with Brett Favre, Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf. They combined for two Super Bowl appearances. The Rodgers-McCarthy-Thompson trio has one so far, but should be a contender for another.
Ted ThompsonAP Photo/Mike RoemerUnder the direction of general manager Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers have maintained stability in the front office.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A month ago, Ted Thompson looked –- and sounded –- worn out.

In his annual pre-draft session with reporters, his speech was slower and more deliberate than usual, prompting whispers about his health and questions about how much longer he might continue as the Green Bay Packers' general manager.

Even Bob Harlan, the former Packers president and the man who hired Thompson in 2005, noticed a difference.

"I did see him on TV a couple of times where he seemed down, and I don't know if it was just exhaustion from the preparation for [the draft] and all the travel that he goes through because he just grinds all the time," Harlan said. "He's either in that room looking at video, or he's on the road."

At age 61, could Thompson have been showing signs that he was nearing the end of a successful run as general manager that has included one Super Bowl title?

Those close to him did not think so at the time, even when Thompson was forced to miss the NFL annual meetings in March because of an undisclosed personal matter. And they do not think so now, especially after he appeared energized following the draft.

So when Thompson joked a week after the draft that he’s "just getting started," the Packers should hope there is more than just a shred of truth to his typically dry humor.

In many ways, Thompson is the key to keeping the Packers' successful leadership team intact.

Consider what happened when Thompson's mentor, Ron Wolf, retired in 2001: The Packers had a coach in Mike Sherman they wanted to keep. Harlan feared that if he went outside for a general manager, he might lose Sherman, so he added the GM role to Sherman's responsibilities. Four years later, it had become apparent it was too much for him, prompting Harlan to bring back Thompson, who had followed Mike Holmgren to Seattle and was the Seahawks' director of player personnel. Thompson and Sherman worked together for one season before Thompson fired him and hired coach Mike McCarthy.

All the while, some of quarterback Brett Favre's prime years passed without even reaching another NFC Championship Game during Sherman's tenure (2000-05).

It's not unreasonable to think the same problems could befall McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers if Thompson were to walk away anytime soon.

"That poses a problem; there's no doubt about it," Harlan said. "I guess because I saw it happen twice –- when Ron came in and Lindy [Infante] was here [as the coach] and with Ted, who tried very hard to make it work with Mike Sherman –- I know it can go downhill in a hurry. It is very difficult if the general manager cannot select his own coach."

No doubt, that's why current Packers president Mark Murphy indicated earlier this month that before any contract extension will be done for McCarthy, Thompson’s situation will be taken care of first.

Like McCarthy, Thompson has two more years left on a contract he signed after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Thompson would not say how much longer he intends to work but added that he "wouldn't anticipate doing anything different."

When Harlan hired Thompson, he received no assurances of how long Thompson would stay on in the role, but Harlan considered Thompson -- who has never been married and does not have children – to be all football, all the time.

"I had watched him for all of those years when he was working for Ron in Green Bay, and his life was just football then as I'm sure it was in Seattle, too," Harlan said. "Ron was 53 when I hired him [in 1991], and I was shocked when he wanted to leave so early, but I understood. Frankly, what I was trying to do was make the move on Ted before it was time for me to go so that I could be sure football was good hands."

And Harlan's last major act as president did just that. Of the 53 players on the Packers’ roster for Super Bowl XLV, 49 of them were acquired by Thompson, whose draft-and-develop philosophy has kept the Packers competitive on an annual basis.

If Murphy has a succession plan in mind for the GM job, he has not shared it. Perhaps he could try to lure former Packers scouts-turned-general managers John Schneider or John Dorsey back to town, but it might be tough to get Schneider out of Seattle or Dorsey out of Kansas City, where both have strong support from their owners.

It's possible he could maintain continuity by promoting vice president of player finance Russ Ball or one of Thompson's chief scouts –- Brian Gutekunst, Alonzo Highsmith or Eliot Wolf.

Some believe Murphy might hire a search firm -– as he has done with several other key front-office positions -– to identify candidates.

Or maybe, if the Packers are fortunate, Thompson will keep going strong.

One person close to him said recently that he does not see Thompson leaving anytime soon, unless the Packers win another Super Bowl, and that all the recent talk about him retiring "got him going."

When told of that, Harlan said, "I would think he'd at least go to 65, and then I think probably what he's going to do is become an area scout. He told me a long time ago that someday he might just go back to Texas and just be an area scout.

"Maybe he'd do it for the Packers. I would be surprised if he didn't work until at least 65. His health is good, and this is everything for him."

Game day with Gruden: Packers thoughts

November, 4, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jon Gruden has spent the better part of the past week studying the Green Bay Packers in advance of Monday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

A few hours before the ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst would head over to Lambeau Field to call the game, he spent some time with me discussing the Packers’ 5-2 start to the season.

The former Packers assistant coach (1992-94) offered his thoughts on the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the new-found success in the running game with Eddie Lacy, the revamped offensive line including rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari, the defense’s performance without injured outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, his memories of the Packers-Bears rivalry and more.

Here’s Gruden on:
  • Rodgers’ play since losing receivers Randall Cobb, James Jones and tight end Jermichael Finley to injuries: “It’s similar, and it’s amazing. It’s always been the quickest release, pinpoint accuracy but it’s the scrambling ability, the decision-making, the mastery of this offense that separates him. But his ability to adjust with a new supporting cast not only at wide receiver but at running back and on the offensive line is quite amazing to me.”
  • Whether the running game is for real: “It is for real and as a matter of fact, it’s formidable. Nobody talks about the line here. Where they’ve made the biggest strides is in their offensive line. They switched both guards [flip-flopping T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton]. They’ve got a new starter at center [Evan Dietrich-Smith], who’s better than the center they had last year [Jeff Saturday], and this left tackle is a pretty good player.”
  • Bakhtiari’s play: "He’s getting better and better. He’s got to eliminate some penalties and some rough edges in his play, but he can move his feet, he can run block. And [right tackle Don] Barclay’s a guy that in the running game is a pretty good player. Without Finley, they put [Andrew] Quarless in there and some of these other tight ends that are blocking tight ends, John Kuhn is a good blocking back and the lead dog is a helluva runner, No. 27."
  • Maintaining the pass rush without Matthews: “The last couple of weeks, no disrespect, but they’ve sacked Brandon Weeden, a young quarterback, and they’ve sacked Christian Ponder, who I don’t know what they’re doing at quarterback. They’ll get a chance to see a really good offensive line tonight, but [defensive coordinator] Dom Capers has leaned on an inside pass rush that’s different. Mike Daniels is a good inside rusher, and some of the inside blitzes that he’s called – A.J. Hawk’s got three sacks in one game – but what’s good about him is they’ve got an inside pass rush with Datone Jones, even though his numbers aren’t there, he does a great job of creating for these linebackers, and Mike Daniels is a bear to block. So when they get the outside guys back, Perry and Matthews, the outside rush with the inside rush will be very good.”
  • The Packers’ weaknesses: “Well, we’re still early in the season. Defensively, let’s see them go up against a top-flight quarterback with these injuries that they’ve had. But I don’t see a lot of weaknesses, man. Can they pass protect when they have to? If they fall behind and get into predictable passing situations, can the right tackle handle it? I don’t know that.”
  • The Packers’ chances if they had to play a road playoff game at San Francisco, Seattle or New Orleans: “If they can run it. What happens to them is they’ve always seen a split-safety look in coverage, and it forces Rodgers to hold the ball a long time to attack those coverages, and the pass rush has eaten him up. They’ve give up a lot of sacks. Now, they’re running the ball against those looks, so now they’re seeing an eight-man front or a seven-man box, and they’ve got one-on-one with these healthy receivers. That’s when they’re going to be at their best.”
  • His favorite Packers-Bears memory when was an assistant coach: “It was perfectly clear to us, we have to win this game. In 1992, Mike Holmgren made that perfectly clear. I remember I got my first game ball in this series. He gave me a game ball. I came up with one play that actually worked. Halloween night, 1994. It was Brett Favre’s 36-yard touchdown run. He called it on third-and-2 in a monsoon, and Favre ran around the right side and picked up a block from Edgar Bennett, and I got a game ball. And I stuck it right in Andy Reid’s face.”

Starter Pack: Last dance at the dome

October, 24, 2013
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A roundup of what’s happening in the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Barring a meeting in the playoffs (which seems unlikely) or a snag in the plans to start building the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium next season (which is more likely), this will be the Packers’ last appearance in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, known now as Mall of America Field.

And it doesn’t sound like many of those on the visiting side are all that broken up about it.

“There’s so many good memories, and some tough ones, too,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Very difficult place to play, always has been. I can remember being up there in a playoff game in 2000 and the quarterback not being able to hear the play call over the speakers. Just a lot of things like that. Incredible home-field advantage for the Vikings.

“But it’s time.”

The Vikings are expected to play the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota while their new stadium is being constructed on the old site.

McCarthy has actually fared better at the Metrodome than his predecessors. He has a 4-3 record there, including 2-3 with Aaron Rodgers as the starting quarterback.

Mike Holmgren lost his first three games there as the Packers coach and finished 2-6. Ray Rhodes lost his only game there in 1999. Mike Sherman went 3-3.

“It’s one of the, for sure, one of the three or four loudest places [in the NFL],” Rodgers said. “Obviously, Kansas City and Seattle are very loud for outdoor environments. Detroit is a loud place. Atlanta is a loud place that we played in. It ranks right up there with those, if not more, especially when there’s a late third down in a tight game late in the fourth [quarter], it’s almost impossible to hear.”

Elsewhere:
  • Our ESPN.com coverage included news that injured tight end Jermichael Finley is expected to be released from the hospital on Thursday and that he has been telling teammates that he wants to continue his career despite sustaining a bruised spinal cord. ... Former Packers receiver Greg Jennings, who signed with the Vikings in the offseason, tried to smooth things over with his former team and quarterback after making critical comments about them in the offseason. Jennings on Wednesday said he was “just messing around” and that he “probably took it a little too far.” ... Rodgers said he has been focused on this game – and not Jennings’ comments – but don’t think he has forgotten. ... Vikings coach Leslie Frazier admitted that he knows it will be tough to Jennings to look at this as just another game. ... And finally in the injury report, receiver James Jones still hasn’t returned to practice from his Oct. 13 knee injury, but he was relieved to find out it wasn't a season-ending injury like he first feared
  • For the latest on the Vikings, read our Ben Goessling’s reports.
  • Aaron Rodgers remains in ESPN's MVP Watch, written by Dan Graziano. See where he comes in.
  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde dissected Jennings’ comments regarding the Packers and Rodgers.
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Weston Hodkiewicz talked to some of the players who will be charged with trying to slow down Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein wrote that while much of the talk in the locker room was about Jennings' comments, the talk in the meeting rooms was about slowing Jennings on the field.
Eddie Lacy and Brandon WeedenUSA TODAY SportsThe Packers may have to rely more on their run game, while Browns QB Brandon Weeden seeks to recover from a forgettable outing.
The Green Bay Packers have made it past a difficult stretch in which they played four playoff teams from last season in their first five games.

And they came out of it with a respectable 3-2 record.

The Cleveland Browns, despite going from Brandon Weeden to Brian Hoyer and now back to Weeden at quarterback, also aren't out of anything yet at 3-3.

ESPN.com Packers reporter Rob Demovsky and Browns reporter Pat McManamon break down the matchup:

McManamon: Rob, what will Green Bay do at receiver with all those injuries, and how much will it affect the offense?

Demovsky: It's bound to have a significant impact. Randall Cobb more or less became the focal point of the passing game last season and if anything, that intensified this season. Sure, he's only a slot receiver and the Packers still have the deep threat of Jordy Nelson on the outside. But in this offense, a lot of those quick-hit passes -- especially against teams that blitz -- are directed to the inside. No team used more three-receiver sets than the Packers had until Cobb went down last week against the Ravens. They had used a three-receiver set on 90 percent of their snaps. That number likely will go down beginning this week against the Browns. They might have to rely on their new-found running game more than ever. But with fewer threats in the passing game, teams might be able to load up to stop running back Eddie Lacy.

The Browns have offensive issues of their own, Pat. Brandon Weeden's turnovers in the loss to the Lions looked like killers, especially that backhanded, underhand flip. How can they get him to play smarter?

McManamon: That backhanded, underhand flip will live for a long time in the annals of Cleveland Browns misplays since 1999, Rob. A lengthy list just got longer. As for getting him to play smarter, that's the challenge. And the challenge has gone on for 18 starts. Weeden actually started fairly well as a 29-year-old rookie, but he struggled the end of last season and this season he's played in fits and starts. Which of course won't be good enough against Green Bay. With Brian Hoyer injured, the Browns have few other options -- it's not like Tom Brady is on the streets waiting for a job -- so they will stick with Weeden. But you have to wonder whether the Browns aren't coming to the conclusion that what they see is what he'll be when it comes to this 30-year-old quarterback.

Rob, Weeden does not read the rush well and does not move well. The Packers are ninth in the league in sacks. Is that yet another bad recipe for Weeden and the Browns offense?

Demovsky: It remains to be seen whether they can keep up their sack pace. They did it without Clay Matthews last week, getting five sacks at Baltimore, but now they're going to be without another outside rusher, Nick Perry. Matthews and Perry each have three sacks on the season, which ties A.J. Hawk for the team lead. At some point, those injuries have to slow down their pass rush. The one thing that's helping them is they're playing the run very well, probably the best they have since they led the league in rushing defense in 2009. After shutting down Ray Rice last week, they're up to third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (78.2). That's putting teams in a lot of third-and-long situations, which allows defensive coordinator Dom Capers to blitz. That's how Hawk got all three of his sacks against the Ravens.

Perhaps the Browns can help protect Weeden if they run the ball effectively to keep the Packers from rushing like crazy. What are their prospects for doing that?

McManamon: Running the ball would protect Weeden. But it helps to have a ... well ... a running game. At present, the Browns are in make-do mode with the running game, and as the season continues that will more and more become a problem. Since the trade of Trent Richardson the Browns have relied on aging Willis McGahee, young Bobby Rainey and fullback Chris Ogbonnaya. These guys give effort, but there's only so much they can give. McGahee can't run outside, Rainey is inexperienced and Ogbonnaya is what he is. The Browns rank 22nd in the league by running for 86.8 yards per game -- though they are averaging 3.9 yards per carry. If the Browns want to run, they will have to commit to it and pound it out, something I am not sure they can do.

Rob, the Browns have had 19 starting quarterbacks since 1999 -- and it appears next year or soon after that number will hit 20. Do the Packers and their fans realize just how fortunate they have been these many years to have Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers?

Demovsky: They should. There are only a handful of organizations who can say they've had the kind of quarterback transition that the Packers had. The 49ers with Joe Montana to Steve Young come to mind. Maybe the Colts have that now with Andrew Luck following Peyton Manning. Not only was Favre a great quarterback, but he was there week in and week out. Rodgers is pretty much the same way. Those guys rarely get injured and when they do, they still play.

Most Packers fans here are still fond of Mike Holmgren, for leading them to the Super Bowl XXXI title. His tenure with as a Browns executive was much shorter. What impact, if any, did he have on the organization?

McManamon: Let's just say the feelings for Holmgren are a lot warmer in Green Bay -- odd as that sounds -- than in Cleveland. Many fans feel Holmgren's epitaph with the Browns should be "As a president, he was a great coach." A lot of that is frustration at constant losing. Some is frustration at the job title and salary scale Randy Lerner gave Holmgren. More still that Holmgren never took on the coaching duties himself. On balance, Holmgren's tenure was no worse than many, and better than some. He and GM Tom Heckert brought in some good players who are helping the team win now. But with any regime change comes more change, and Joe Banner has gotten rid of some of Holmgren's guys -- notably Richardson. Holmgren's biggest gamble was selecting a quarterback in the first round a year ago who is now 30. But Weeden clearly would have been helped by more continuity in the front office.

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The case for Seneca Wallace

September, 2, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In the NFL, so often coaches and general managers rely on the familiar.

Such is the case with 33-year-old Seneca Wallace, who, as Ed Werder first reported Monday morning, was signed to be the Green Bay Packers’ newest backup quarterback.

Take a look at Wallace’s career path. In 2003, he was a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who at the time had Mike Holmgren as their coach and general manager. Wallace had an unusual career in Seattle, where sometimes he played receiver when he wasn’t needed at quarterback. When he did play quarterback, he went 5-9 as a starter, with his most extensive playing time coming in 2008 after Matt Hasselbeck sustained a knee injury. Wallace started eight games that season, going 3-5.

In 2010, Wallace was traded to Cleveland, where Holmgren had become the Browns' president only a few months earlier. Wallace started seven games over the next two seasons, but won just one of them.

Wallace hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since 2011 and his most recent stint with an NFL team was a week-long stay with the San Francisco 49ers, which ended last week in bizarre fashion, with coach Jim Harbaugh saying Wallace would retire and Wallace later denying that.

Which brings us back to the Packers, whose general manager, Ted Thompson, was Holmgren’s top personnel man in Seattle from 2000 to '04. So Thompson not only knows Wallace well but has seen him play in an offense that is similar to what Packers coach Mike McCarthy runs.

Still, familiarity doesn’t always breed success. There’s been little in Wallace’s history to suggest he could keep the Packers afloat in a playoff race if something happened to Aaron Rodgers.

Thompson has been in a scramble mode with his backup quarterbacks ever since he signed Vince Young on Aug. 5 after Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman got off to shaky starts to training camp. Thompson released Harrell on Aug. 24 and Young on Saturday. The Packers briefly had Coleman as the only quarterback behind Rodgers. To make room for Wallace, the Packers released Coleman.

With Wallace, the Packers now expect to have two quarterbacks with ties to the 49ers, their Week 1 opponent. They plan to sign Scott Tolzien, who was released by San Francisco last week, to their practice squad.

But for those who think the Packers signed Wallace to help with preparation for the 49ers, it should be noted that he spent only a week there this summer, and as a vested NFL veteran, the Packers would be on the hook for his entire 2013 base salary (likely the league minimum) if he’s on the Week 1 roster.

Mike Holmgren praises Mike McCarthy

August, 23, 2013
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It’s not often you get to hear two Super Bowl-winning coaches talk, but on Thursday the past two coaches to lead the Green Bay Packers to championships appeared on the same radio show.

It happened on Seattle’s KJR 950 AM with former Packers coach Mike Holmgren and current Packers coach Mike McCarthy. And it was almost as if the listeners were given the chance to eavesdrop on their conversation rather than listening to a radio show.

Perhaps most interesting was when the conversation turned to last year’s Packers-Seahawks game, which ended with the controversial simultaneous possession touchdown call by the replacement officials that gave Seattle the unlikely victory.

Said Holmgren: “There’s not a question in my mind that was as an interception … The thing is, when I watched your press conference the next day, and Mike you’re a real gentleman, I would have been fined. There’s no question in my mind, I would have been fined. And you handled that about as well as I’ve seen a coach handle that. Was that difficult?”

Said McCarthy: “Thanks. No question that was difficult, but it was the best thing for our football team, and I never lost sight of that. That was my vision of what I needed to do when I walked into the post-game press conference, and I think it was very apparent what happened. There’s good calls in our league and not-so-good calls, and not-so-good calls sometimes go the other way. … You knew there was going to be a storm that was going to follow that situation, and I was just trying to get our football team to move on as quickly as possible.”

The entire conversation between Holmgren and McCarthy, who spoke on the eve of Friday’s Packers-Seahawks preseason game, is available here .

Mike Holmgren's sphere of influence

June, 10, 2013
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Mike Holmgren knew he had a good team in 1996. With an offense led by quarterback Brett Favre and a defense led by defensive end Reggie White, the Green Bay Packers breezed through the regular season, winning 13 games by an average of 21.3 points per game. In the playoffs, the Packers beat San Francisco by 21 points and then Carolina by 17.

And still, heading into the Super Bowl, where the Packers would face a New England Patriots team coached by the legendary Bill Parcells, Holmgren had this thought:

"Man, do belong here against this guy in this game?"

Holmgren belonged. He belonged because he was a master communicator, and because four seasons earlier, when he finally got the shot to be a head coach in the National Football League that he wasn't sure would ever come, he assembled a talented coaching staff that could effectively convey his message. Having learned the West Coast offense at the feet of the great San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, Holmgren was an innovative playcaller, a detail-oriented taskmaster, a straight shooter and a demanding leader.

For the full story, click here.
This week's Inside Slant podcast will tell you exactly what the Detroit Lions did to get Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo fired. Or, more specifically, what Castillo inexplicably opened the door for the Lions to do in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's comeback victory at Lincoln Financial Field.

Longtime Green Bay Packers fans will be interested to hear partner Mike Sando's comments on why former Packers coach Mike Holmgren hasn't panned out as an executive for two separate teams. Holmgren is set to depart the Cleveland Browns, and possibly retire for good, following the sale of the team.

Finally, you'll want to keep listening to hear which NFC North teams have the most-difficult schedules remaining this season. If somehow your speakers aren't working, I'll pass along the answer Thursday.
Almost a full year has gone by since our last FavreWatch post. As it turns out, there is a little-known codicil in the NFC North blog constitution which gives the blogger unlimited power to preserve order in times of emergency. And 365 days without a FavreWatch post most definitely qualifies.

Those of you who are hoping for an imminent reconciliation between former quarterback Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers would be disappointed to learn what former team president Bob Harlan told ESPN 540 on Tuesday morning. According to Harlan, it appears Favre has declined an invitation to attend and/or participate in former coach Mike Holmgren's induction into the Packers Hall of Fame this summer.

Harlan envisioned the appearance as a first step toward a reconciliation and still holds out hope that Favre himself will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame before his presumptive 2016 enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The full podcast of Harlan's appearance is available, but here is a portion of what Harlan said:
"We had a meeting about two months ago and talked about who should be invited back [for Holmgen's ceremony] -- Jon Gruden, Andy Reid, people like that. And, we talked about players. And I said to the group, 'What about No. 4? This would be the perfect time for him to come back, come into Green Bay.'

"The crowd at the Hall of Fame banquet is an adoring crowd, they're as loyal to the Green Bay Packers as anybody. And unfortunately, I don't think he’s going to do it. We did approach his agent, and I don't think Brett's going to do it. I feel badly about that."

It's reasonable to think Favre and the Packers will come together sometime in the next five years. But it doesn't appear that will happen in the summer of 2012.

BBAO: Recalling the Andy Reid model

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

Andy Reid was an offensive lineman during his playing career and coached the Green Bay Packers' tight ends and offensive linemen for five years until then-coach Mike Holmgren switched him to quarterbacks. The move worked for the Packers, Reid and quarterback Brett Favre alike, and it's a model -- coincidental or otherwise -- that current Packers coach Mike McCarthy followed this winter.

Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com points out the parallel in reporting the shift of tight ends coach Ben McAdoo to the quarterbacks coach role. McAdoo is one of several rising stars on the Packers' coaching staff and will get a chance to demonstrate his abilities by taking over two important jobs: Mentoring MVP Aaron Rodgers and developing his next backup, be it Graham Harrell or someone else.

Wilde reports that Joel Hilgenberg, a quality control coach in 2011, is the likely replacement for McAdoo to coach tight ends.

Continuing around the division on a quiet morning in the NFC North:
We're Black and Blue All Over:

The Oakland Raiders' apparent decision to hire Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen as their head coach will result in some stability among the Green Bay Packers' coaching staff.

Packers assistant head coach/inside linebackers Winston Moss and defensive coordinator Dom Capers were both candidates in the Raiders' job search, which was run by former Packers executive Reggie McKenzie, now the Raiders' general manager. Moss had been considered by many media members to be a favorite for the job, but McKenzie conducted a wide search.

To this point, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin is the only assistant to depart the staff. Philbin is the Miami Dolphins' new head coach. Coach Mike McCarthy hasn't announced a replacement yet. Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements remains a candidate for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head-coaching job.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "It might be a little premature to declare Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy out of the woods completely, but any predictions about his staff being ravaged by outsiders seem to be overblown."
  • Former Packers coach Mike Holmgren doesn't wonder what might have happened if he had stayed with the team rather than bolt for the Seattle Seahawks. Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has more.
  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will meet Wednesday with Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf to discuss the Metrodome stadium site. Mike Kaszuba of the Star Tribune details the political infighting currently in play on that site.
  • Vikings general manager Rick Spielman allowed four reporters to sit in on an interview with Auburn long-snapper Josh Harris at the Senior Bowl. Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has more.
  • The Vikings plan to find more work for running back Toby Gerhart, regardless of Adrian Peterson's health, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
  • Detroit Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. spoke positively in rare public comments about the team. Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press has more.
  • Lions receiver Calvin Johnson is sitting out the Pro Bowl because of an Achilles injury, but he is still heading to Hawaii this week and is bringing the Lions' entire receiving corps, notes Dave Birkett of the Free Press.
  • Two Lions assistant coaches, Tim Walton (secondary) and Shawn Jefferson (receivers) are close to signing new contracts to stay with the team, according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
  • ESPNChicago.com has a rundown of Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher's comments on using the pain-killer Toradol.
  • Urlacher expanded on those comments with Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli endorsed his director of college scouting, Phil Emery, for the Bears' general manager job. Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times explains.
  • The Bears' new general manager will have the flexibility to change as much of the scouting staff as he wants. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the team's six college scouts and three pro scouts all have expiring contracts.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Half of the NFC North will now be impacted by the Oakland Raiders' wide search for a new head coach.

We already knew that new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie would have his eyes on multiple candidates from the Green Bay Packers, where he spent the past 17 seasons. But he is also interested in speaking with Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice. The Raiders requested permission Tuesday to speak with Tice, a story first reported by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

Tice was promoted to his current job earlier this month, but by NFL rule the Bears can't deny permission to interview. He spent four seasons as the Minnesota Vikings' head coach from 2002-05 and is one of perhaps a dozen candidates linked to the first round of Raiders interviews; he is one of the few with previous head-coaching experience.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • The Bears have now interviewed two of their five candidates for their general manager job, the team announced. San Diego Chargers executive Jimmy Raye III was the latest through the door.
  • Former Bears receiver Sam Hurd has a Jan. 25 arraignment set in Dallas after being indicted on federal drug conspiracy and possession charges. ESPNChicago.com has the story.
  • Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers would consider moving cornerback Charles Woodson to safety next season if Nick Collins (neck) doesn't come back. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more.
  • Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin is a finalist for the Miami Dolphins' head-coaching job and will receive a second interview, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
  • Former Packers coach Mike Holmgren will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame this summer, notes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • Both of the Detroit Lions' backup quarterbacks, Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton, will be free agents this spring, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. One or both could move on.
  • Justin Rogers of Mlive.com review the appearance of Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on "Jimmy Fallon."
  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is moving closer to naming a preferred site for the Vikings' new stadium, according to Mike Kaszuba of the Star Tribune.
What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Packers -- for better or worse? Give us your take and we'll give you our definitive moment on May 17.

There might not be an NFL team with a richer history than the Green Bay Packers, a unique franchise with 13 championships to its name. We're only brushing the surface.

The Packers began play in 1919 but soon fell on financial hard times. Ultimately, team founder Curly Lambeau arrived on a business model that has prevailed ever since. In 1923, he convinced local businessmen to buy stock in the company and made it a non-profit organization. (Historians might also note that the NFL's revenue-sharing model has had at least an equal role in the Packers' survival.)

The Packers hadn't had a winning season in 12 years when they hired new coach Vince Lombardi in 1959. What followed was one of the most remarkable and memorable runs by a professional sports team in any league.

Lombardi's departure sent the Packers spiraling for decades, and it wasn't until they hired general manager Ron Wolf in 1991 that their fortunes changed. Wolf made two huge acquisitions within weeks of each other, hiring coach Mike Holmgren on Jan. 11, 1992, and trading for quarterback Brett Favre on Feb. 10, 1992.

Favre's career falls under the Wolf category for the purposes of this project. At the same time, it's hard to imagine the Packers winning a Super Bowl within three years of his departure had they not drafted his replacement in 2005. Aaron Rodgers spent three years developing behind Favre and then was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV last season.

Use the module in this post to cast your vote. If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.

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