NFC North: Rock Gullickson
One more thought on Detroit's decision to part ways with cornerback Leigh Bodden, as first reported Wednesday by John Niyo of the Detroit News.
You could look at this as one of the first significant unravelings of the Matt Millen personnel disaster, one of many that likely will have to take place as the offseason progresses. Millen gave up the Lions' best defensive player, Shaun Rogers, to get Bodden and a third-round draft pick. But as Tom Kowalski of the Mlive.com alludes to, there was a disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff about Bodden's place.
Millen and his advisors no doubt saw Bodden as a long-term fixture for the defense, a classically cocky but talented cornerback who had six interceptions for the Browns in 2007. But former coach Rod Marinelli did not guarantee him a starting job, engendering a mistrust that continued throughout the season. That was Marinelli's policy for all new players, but Millen didn't foresee it being a problem for Bodden despite his personality.
It was an oil-and-water mixture that was never destined to work out, something that might have been clear with more pre-trade research into the matter. It was an example of the type of the disconnect between the front office and coaching staff that new general manager Martin Mayhew has alluded to several times.
If you're wondering, the only thing the Lions have to show for the Rogers trade is defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, who was selected with the third-round pick the Browns included in the trade. Fluellen played in eight games and started two as a rookie in 2008.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times and Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune provide a transcript of an interview that pending free agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh gave a Chicago radio station. The key quote from Houshmandzadeh: "I'm open to everything, I promise you that."
- Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzes the Packers' shift from Rock Gullickson to Dave Redding as strength and conditioning coordinator. Coach Mike McCarthy said he was looking for "a change in environment and attitude." Redding is known as an intense character.
- Here's what Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson said when Philadelphia coach Andy Reid asked him how many times he wanted to carry in the Pro Bowl this weekend: "You can give it to me every time." Here's an Associated Press story on the exchange from Hawaii.
It turns out that St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo has grabbed two assistant coaches off Minnesota's staff.
Last week, Spagnuolo hired Vikings special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro as linebackers coach. Monday, the Rams announced Vikings defensive assistant Brendan Daly as their defensive line coach.
Daly worked mostly with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar over the past three years and is well-liked by players. He has also been the assistant coach who sends in defensive playcalls from the defensive coordinator, whether it was Mike Tomlin or Leslie Frazier.
The Vikings haven't announced replacements for either coach. One possibility for Ferraro's job is assistant special teams coach Brian Murphy. Overall, there are four ex-Vikings assistant coaches on the Rams' staff. In addition to Ferraro and Daly, Spagnuolo has also hired Charlie Baggett as receivers coach and retained Steve Loney as offensive line coach.
Meanwhile, the Rams hired former Green Bay strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson. Former Packers and Lions assistant Sylvester Croom is the Rams' new running backs coach.
Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier made some oblique references Monday when asked about his experience interviewing for Detroit's head coaching job. You don't have to read too far between the lines to surmise that Frazier thought the Lions were much further away from competing than the Lions' front office does.
"I can tell you this, we had a difference of opinion in how we saw the current Lions and going forward. That was probably the biggest thing in my interview. We had a different perception. I'd rather not get into [the specifics]. But we had different perceptions of where to go and the length of time to get there. We were really far apart in that."
I suppose reasonable people can debate the state of the Lions' roster. But from the outside, this is one of the top fears of elevating team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew. By human nature, they are looking to salvage whatever they can from the work they have already put into the team rather than simply starting anew. Time will tell if that is the most prudent tack.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- A key quote from Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy on his decision to hire a new defensive staff: "I felt that a number of things that occurred in Year 1 showed up again in Year 3." Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal has the full story. I'll be posting an extended entry later Tuesday on McCarthy's defensive turnaround.
- Lost in McCarthy's decision to hire new defensive and special teams coordinators was the firing of Packers strength and conditioning coordinator Rock Gullickson. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, McCarthy didn't believe that players were making enough strides in their physical development.
- Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times spoke Monday with Bears defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Bob Babich, who will no longer call the team's defensive signals. Said Babich: "The Bears have great fans, and it was a disappointing season for us. I understand if there is criticism toward me. As the defensive coordinator, anything that goes on with the defense starts with me. I was held accountable by myself. There isn't any criticism outside of what we do within the staff that affects me because there is no one who can be harder on me than I am on myself.''
- Former Bears defensive backs coach Steve Wilks was formally hired in San Diego, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.