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Weekend mailbag

6/20/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Let's take a look at what tickled your fancy this week. Remember, you can contact me in so many ways it's silly.

First off, there's the mailbag.

Then you've got our ceiling-breaking Facebook page.

We have Twitter for those who tweet.

You can even call me. My direct line is 555-0004.

Now, on with it:

On the aforementioned Facebook page, Zack asks about AccuScore's simulation of 10,000 NFC North seasons with and without Brett Favre. I provided the projected records for each team in both cases, but Zack wanted to know how many division titles each of the four teams won over those 10,000 seasons.

Kevin Seifert: I answered on Facebook but I should probably share the results on the blog itself. Remember, AccuScore created digital profiles of every player and coach in the NFC North and then ran 10,000 "seasons" through is computer based on the actual schedule of each team.

According to AccuScore, here were the results when Favre was the Vikings' quarterback:

  • Minnesota won 42 percent of the seasons

  • Green Bay won 30 percent

  • Chicago won 28 percent

  • Detroit won 0 percent.

Without Favre, and with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels splitting snaps for the Vikings, it was essentially a three-way tie:

  • Green Bay won 34 percent of the seasons

  • Minnesota won 34 percent

  • Chicago won 32 percent

  • Detroit won 0 percent

That's right. The fellas at AccuScore didn't have the Lions winning the NFC North title in any of the 20,000 total simulations run. I guess there's always next year.


Justin of Los Angeles writes: Kevin, in all the Chicago wide receiver talk, one name I haven't heard is Brandon Rideau. He was great last preseason and probably should've made the roster. He's now in his second year. He knows the system as well as Earl Bennett and is more talented than Rashied Davis. Yet he is getting NO publicity. Are the Bears even considering this guy? I think he is a major sleeper.

Kevin Seifert: Rideau has certainly been a fan favorite since the preseason last summer, but you're right, there hasn't been much buzz about him this spring. If anything, he's been overshadowed by the sheer number of young receivers the Bears are trying to get a look at.

If anyone created a spring buzz, it was rookie Johnny Knox. I didn't witness any of the Bears' organized team activities. But those who did, including Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times, report that Knox caught some eyes with his blazing 4.3 speed. Things could change once the pads come on, but it seems Knox got a lot of the same kind of attention Rideau did last year.


Zack of Kansas City writes: Your post about choosing the top ten building blocks from the division got me thinking: What about the coaches? So, what's your NFC North dream team of coaches look like? For me, I start by putting Lovie Smith at D-coordinator. Offensive coordinator: Joe Philbin. D-line: Rod Marinelli. O-line: Pat Morris. Special Teams: Dave Toub. I'm not partial to any of the head coaches, but if I have to chose, it's Mike McCarthy.

Kevin Seifert: Wow, interesting question. Maybe it's something I should consider for a future post. Nah, let's do it here. One rule I'll establish: A coach's current job description can't change. So, no picking Lovie Smith for defensive coordinator. OK, here's my first-blush list, subject to change. I'm leaving a few blank pending further thought and your feedback. I'll expand and explain during a post next week.

Head coach: Lovie Smith (CHI)
Offensive coordinator: Scott Linehan (DET)
Quarterbacks: Tom Clements (GB)
Running backs: Eric Bieniemy (MIN)
Wide receivers: Jimmy Robinson (GB)
Offensive line: TBD
Defensive coordinator: Leslie Frazier (MIN)
Defensive line: Rod Marinelli (CHI)
Linebackers: Fred Pagac (MIN)
Secondary: TBD
Special teams: Dave Toub (CHI)


Joseph of High Point, N.C. writes: How do the Packers look at the Favre situation with Minnesota in regards to the charges of tampering last year? It seems very apparent (last year as well) that by the rules of the NFL, Minnesota should be guilty of tampering.

Kevin Seifert: I think the Packers want that whole episode behind them, so I'm not sure they would pursue tampering charges. But your question brings up an interesting conspiracy theory that we might never get resolved. (It's the only one of our five questions that Joe Buck didn't ask Brett Favre last Monday night.) Namely: Did Favre follow an elaborate pre-meditated scheme to get to the Vikings against the Packers' wishes?

As you might recall, over the winter we discussed the seemingly preposterous path Favre would need to follow to make himself eligible to sign with the Vikings. As the 2008 season ended, he was still under contract with the New York Jets, and the Jets remained under the terms of "poison pill" trade language that would have required them to send multiple first-round picks to the Packers if they ever traded Favre to an NFC North team.

So the only way for Favre to get to Minnesota was to somehow get out of his contract. Given the Jets' investment in him, it was unlikely they would simply release him with no return. I thought he might have to force the Jets' hand by threatening to file for reinstatement, backed by a salary cap figure that was too large for the Jets to handle.

Instead, the Jets drafted his replacement in April and then granted Favre's request to be released from his contract. That move made Favre a free agent.

As for tampering, the question would be whether Favre had contact with the Vikings before he was released. Did he seek that release because he knew the Vikings wanted to sign him? For me, however, the juicier question is whether Favre retired in February not because he thought he was finished playing, but because he hoped the Jets would move on wi
thout him and eventually consent to an enabling release.

Short of mind-reading, I don't know if we'll ever know the full answer. But it's the kind of thing that keeps we conspiracy theorists in business.


Rob of Winnipeg writes: Can you tell me why the Lions felt they needed to get rid of Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey? I know their numbers were way down, but other than Calvin Johnson, everybody's numbers were way down. Was it a locker room thing or was this just a move to make this Calvin Johnson's team?

Kevin Seifert: Both players had ties to former offensive coordinator Mike Martz and were probably best suited for his kind of passing offense, which the Lions dumped two years ago. Furrey spent a good part of last year at odds with the team over his health, and his fate seemed sealed when the Lions placed him on injured reserve.

McDonald has signed with Pittsburgh and could still be a productive player. But I think he got caught up in the team's desire to move on from its past. The Lions also seem interested in adding size at receiver. McDonald, at 5-10 is significantly smaller than newcomers Bryant Johnson (6-3) and Ronald Curry (6-2).