NFC North: Rod Wilson

NFC North at night

December, 6, 2010
Let's catch up on some news threads on a busy Monday in the NFC North:
  • Chicago Bears linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who has missed two of the past three games because of a knee injury, has had what coach Lovie Smith termed a "minor" procedure on the knee. It's not clear how many more games Tinoisamoa will miss, but it's probably safe to assume he won't play Sunday against the New England Patriots. Nick Roach will remain the starter if he recovers from a hip injury that sidelined him last Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Otherwise, backup middle linebacker Rod Wilson would be next in line.
  • The Detroit Lions could lose cornerback Alphonso Smith to a shoulder injury, coach Jim Schwartz told reporters Monday. More information will be available later this week.
  • The Minnesota Vikings agreed to terms with tailback Lorenzo Booker, who has played this season for the Hartford Colonials of the UFL. Interim head coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings hope to use Booker as a third-down back. The Vikings did not announce a corresponding roster move.

BBAO: Cutler, Shanahan and the pocket

October, 22, 2010
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune offers an obvious but seemingly ignored suggestion to relieve the Chicago Bears' pass protection issues: Take a page from the Mike Shanahan offense they will face this weekend and get quarterback Jay Cutler out of the pocket.

Shanahan was the Denver Broncos' general manager and coach when Cutler was drafted in 2006. In 2008, as Pompei points out, Cutler had the lowest sack-per-attempt ratio in the NFL. Shanhan's offense routinely calls for quarterbacks to roll away from the traditional pocket area, but this year Cutler has done so less than a half-dozen times.
Pompei: "The point is this: The Bears know they have pass protection issues. They need to help their offensive line, as well as their quarterback. Moving the pocket is a time-tested way of making the line's job easier. Changing the launch point creates indecision in the minds of pass rushers. They can't charge up field quite so aggressively if they aren't sure where their target is. And it also gives pause to blitz-crazed defensive coordinators. What's more, moving the pocket and calling for bootlegs plays into Cutler's strengths. It would help the Bears attack more efficiently, as well as prevent them from being attacked so relentlessly."

You can expect to see more of the same from Shanahan's Washington Redskins at Soldier Field. Would Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz consider a similar move?

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday, writes Jeff Dickerson of
  • Bears special teams coach Dave Toub isn't blaming linebacker Rod Wilson for a holding penalty that wiped out Danieal Manning's 89-yard kickoff return last weekend, writes Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Injured Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Barnett, via Jason Wilde of "You can bet your money next year that I will be a beast. I guarantee you that. Put it in the bank."
  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines the Packers' meager pass rush against the Minnesota Vikings last season.
  • Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on rookie Bryan Bulaga's stint at right tackle: "In the two games [starter Mark] Tauscher has missed, there have been good times and some not-so-good ones."
  • The Minnesota Vikings' offense has struggled early in games, notes Tom Pelissero of
  • Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on his total of one sack this season, via Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune: "I think people are kind of shocked. It's the first time in my career that it's been five games and I've only had one sack. But you look at last week, we should have had four or five sacks. Tony [Romo] elected to throw the ball and we got [two interceptions] instead."
  • Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "With due respect to Week 3 opponent Detroit, the Vikings' division race begins Sunday in Green Bay. Everything begins at Lambeau Field, which can catapult or cripple visitors looking for a spark."
  • The Detroit Lions practiced Wednesday and Thursday heading into their bye weekend but held out 19 players from Thursday's practice, notes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News.
  • The Lions will determine new linebacker Bobby Carpenter's position based on the health of middle linebacker DeAndre Levy, writes Tom Kowalski of

NFC North Week 6 decisive moment

October, 19, 2010
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL teams are always looking for momentum shifters, and Chicago Bears kick returner Danieal Manning appeared to give his team a big one early in the fourth quarter Sunday at Soldier Field.

The Seattle Seahawks had just jumped out to a 23-13 lead, and the Bears' offense was struggling to sustain drives. Enter Manning, the hard-charging safety/returner who is a threat every time he touches the ball. As if on cue, Manning fielded the ensuing kickoff, broke four tackles and sprinted 89 yards into the end zone.

The touchdown would have brought the Bears to within three points with 13 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. The minor deficit would have given them more play-calling flexibility for the duration of the fourth quarter, but a holding call on Rod Wilson brought the touchdown back. Replays showed Wilson's hand on the left side of a Seahawks cover man just as Manning ran past them, but the block otherwise appeared textbook.

Regardless, the Bears assumed possession at their 9-yard line and they shifted to a frenzied catch-up mode their offense couldn't sustain. Eighteen of their 20 fourth-quarter plays were passes, and they didn't close the deficit until Devin Hester returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown with 1:54 left. The score was too late, however. As it turned out, the reversal of Manning's return was a decisive moment in this game.

BBAO: Tom Lewand's suspension lifted

September, 15, 2010
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Although the NFL has made no formal announcement, Detroit-area media outlets are reporting that Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand has been reinstated from a 30-day suspension nine days early and will be back on the job Wednesday.

The NFL originally suspended Lewand and fined him $100,000 after he pleaded guilty this summer to driving while impaired. He was sentenced to six months' probation and paid $870 in court fees and costs. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also laid out an extensive set of requirements for seeking outpatient help, all of which Lewand reportedly complied with and apparently had a role in his early return.

If his fine was reduced, it hasn't been reported.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • The Lions placed rookie nickelback Aaron Berry on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury, according to Tom Kowalski of Veteran Nate Vasher has replaced him on the roster.
  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "An emotional outburst from Jim Schwartz would have appeased the insecure looking for somebody in the Lions organization to articulate their outrage about what has now been called the Decompletion. But Schwartz looked more like a good NFL head coach in the aftermath of Sunday's controversial finish than at any point since his arrival last year."
  • Chicago Bears receiver Devin Hester was a forgotten man last Sunday at Soldier Field, writes Jeff Dickerson of
  • Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Whether it's goal-line issues, a fumble, a tough time against Detroit's front or the controversial finish, [Matt] Forte's contribution was somehow overlooked or at least underappreciated."
  • The Bears could be eyeing free-agent linebacker Rod Wilson to take Hunter Hillenmeyer's spot on the roster, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "Ryan Grant wasn't one of the Green Bay Packers' six or seven best players, but he was one of their six or seven most important."
  • Grant discussed having surgery on his injured ankle and returning late in the season, reports Jason Wilde of, but the Packers decided against holding open his roster spot that long. He will still have surgery.
  • The Packers viewed most of the available veteran free-agent running backs as poor fits for their scheme, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Instead, they signed rookie Dimitri Nance off the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad.
  • The Minnesota Vikings had four receivers in for workouts Tuesday but have yet to sign any of them, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
  • New Vikings receiver Greg Camarillo is still learning the team's offense, writes Tom Pelissero of
  • The Vikings will prepare for the Miami Dolphins' Wildcat scheme this week, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.