NFC North: Pete Bercich
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press takes the latest Ndamukong Suh story to the next level, suggesting the Detroit Lions trade Suh rather than re-sign him to a lucrative contract when his rookie deal expires in a couple years. Sharp notes the Lions' well-documented salary-cap issues stemming from the previous rookie scale, which could require them to put up more to keep Suh than he might receive on the open market, and writes:
"Suh remains one of the most puzzling, contradictory personalities in Detroit sports history. He's intelligent, articulate. He has an engineering degree from Nebraska. On many levels, Suh's what you want all athletes to use as a blueprint. But he's also annoyingly arrogant and capricious. Suh still believes that the NFL must change to how he plays because the league's never before experienced his combination of size and speed."
If Suh is going to annually face NFL scrutiny, Sharp reasons, he might not be worth the type of contract he is likely to seek. I'm not sure if the Lions will view it the same way, but I do think Sharp's point on the nuance of Suh's next contract is valid. The five-year, $60 million deal they were required to give him as the No. 2 overall pick of the 2010 draft, which included $40 million guaranteed, raises the floor of negotiations significantly for his next deal.
Regardless, it's clear that patience is wearing thin for his future in the Detroit community. Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Lions, neither Suh nor coach Jim Schwartz, deserve the benefit of the doubt anymore, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News.
- Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com has a long and detailed feature on the medical ordeal of former Lions running back Jerome Harrison.
- The Green Bay Packers used cornerback Davon House in their base defense Sunday night rather than rookie Casey Hayward because they thought House was a better matchup against the New York Giants' big receivers, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
- Don't count on the Packers tinkering with their offensive line, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wonders if the return of receiver Greg Jennings can help solve the Packers' issues against the Cover 2 defense.
- Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com breaks down the tape of the Minnesota Vikings' loss to the Chicago Bears. Among the notes: Geoff Schwartz played more snaps at right guard than Brandon Fusco for the first time.
- It's not known if Vikings coach Leslie Frazier disciplined tailback Adrian Peterson for missing the team bus before Sunday's game. But Frazier did say the situation was "a big deal," according to Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
- Vikings radio analyst Pete Bercich on quarterback Christian Ponder, via Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "If it looks like this at the end of the year, you have to have a backup plan. You have to have another viable starter to come in here. You can't wait forever for a guy to improve. You have a viable running game."
- Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, whose play calling came under scrutiny after the debacle in San Francisco, had a good game plan for his makeshift line and his quarterback, who returned from a concussion. It was executed well, despite several players being injured."
- Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune reviews the latest turmoil on the Bears' offensive line.
- Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on his taunting penalty Sunday, via ESPNChicago.com: "It took some points off the board. I think we got a field goal there and we could have had seven. Four points gone, and I've got to be smarter than that. If anyone else on offense had done that I would have probably yelled at him like it can't happen here. I can't do it again obviously."
I don't know about you, but I can think of nothing better to do on a Friday morning than look at division-wide reaction to the Jay Cutler trade. With the NFC North still reverberating by Chicago's stunning acquisition, let's let 'er rip:
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune puts it all in perspective: "Thursday marked the most exciting, significant day for the Bears since Super Bowl XLI. A 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback and a future Hall of Fame left tackle [Orlando Pace] in the same day? Welcome back to NFL relevancy, Chicago."
The Tribune's Rick Morrissey, on the other hand, isn't a big fan of the deal: "If Jay Cutler doesn't raise red flags, Bears fans, you are color blind. From all appearances and indications, he has the maturity level of larva."
Dan Pompei of the Tribune doesn't disagree with the move but notes the Bears must focus on "alternative forms" of player acquisition after the loss of three high draft choices. Pompei: "If draft picks indeed are the lifeblood of a team, the Bears will need to be on the lookout for warning signs of anemia."
This deal will seal the legacy of Bears general manager Jerry Angelo one way or the other, writes Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN.com. Wojciechowski: "You have to give Angelo credit for taking the plunge with Cutler. It was more than bold move; it was a move that will end up in the first or second paragraph of his obituary."
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times comes up with the most interesting sidelight of the deal. Cutler's father, Jack, has had some not-so-nice things to say about Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner in recent years. According to multiple stories, Turner rescinded a scholarship offer to Cutler when he was the head coach at Illinois, forcing Cutler to scramble for a school. Jack Cutler called the move "dirty."
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press calls the trade "typical Lions fate." Sharp: "Jay Cutler goes to Chicago. He's now guaranteed another Pro Bowl season because he'll face the Lions twice a season."
John Niyo of the Detroit News is at peace with the outcome for the Lions: "Mortgaging the future -- even for a 25-year-old potential star quarterback -- doesn't make sense when the future's all you've got."
The tide has turned in Green Bay, writes Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The Bears, who trotted out 21 starting quarterbacks in the 16 years Brett Favre led the Green Bay Packers, now have the most talented and established quarterback in the division." (Paging Aaron Rodgers.)
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune faults Vikings coach Brad Childress for choosing Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels over Cutler: "When it comes to quarterbacks, Childress has trouble telling the difference between Spam and Honey Baked Ham."
Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press quotes Vikings radio analyst Pete Bercich: "[The division] a toss-up right now, after putting him in there. But I think it's us by a nose. The Bears still have some serious holes to fill on defense. Brian Urlacher is becoming a liability. At the end of the year, if you watch him, he couldn't move as well, and he's lost a step. And they have critical deficiencies at safety."