NFC North: Tim Hasselbeck
Cincinnati quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, who interviewed earlier this month, is no longer a candidate. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told the Chicago Tribune he has closed the window on Zampese’s availability. The Bears have said they plan to cast a wide net in replacing the fired Ron Turner, but it’s relatively common for other teams to expect quick decisions so they can hire replacements in a timely fashion.
Jackson will become the third candidate to interview for the job. ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck said in an interview with ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson that Jackson “relates to players well and does an excellent job of keeping things fairly simple.” It continues to appear the Bears aren’t seriously considering former St. Louis coach Mike Martz, writes Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
I’m all for a thorough search, and it’s possible the Bears have Martz as a backup plan knowing he isn’t likely to be hired elsewhere. It’s hard for fans and media members to be patient at this point, but it appears the Bears are doing just that.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Bears receiver Johnny Knox was added to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, replacing Minnesota’s Percy Harvin, who bowed out Monday. Harvin had been added after Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson was elected as both a receiver and a kick returner. Knox is the Bears’ lone representative after linebacker Lance Briggs bowed out.
- Both Vikings cornerbacks will enter the offseason nursing significant injuries, according to the Star Tribune. Cedric Griffin is believed to have torn an anterior cruciate ligament and Antoine Winfield is still nursing a fractured foot.
- Vikings fullback Nauhfau Tahi didn’t have much to say Monday about his role in the Vikings’ penalty for having 12 players in the huddle at the end of regulation in the NFC Championship Game. John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has more.
- Detroit coach Jim Schwartz is working to erase the memory of last season’s 2-14 record, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
- The Lions’ special teams will look much different schematically under new coordinator Danny Crossman, writes Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.
- By coaching the North squad this week at the Senior Bowl, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News, the Lions are hoping they get a chance to know players better.
- Mike Nolan discussed his decision to turn down the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator job last year with Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Packers linebacker Clay Matthews is hoping to better translate his film study to the field next season, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
The government entity that owns the Metrodome testified Monday at the Minnesota state legislature on behalf of constructing a new Vikings stadium. But state leaders displayed with little support, according to Mike Kaszuba of the Star Tribune.
Nothing that happened Monday suggested the Vikings could get approval for public funding during the 2009 session, a result that would put further pressure on the looming 2011 expiration of their current lease.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission suggested that the project could generate $734 million in construction spending and create 13,400 jobs, acting as its own stimulus to the local economy. The Vikings' plan calls for them to contribute about $250 million and get about $700 million in public funding for the project.
Rep. Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, whose colleagues are dealing with a $4.8 billion state budget shortfall, reacted this way:
"To come in with a two-thirds publicly funded proposal for a brand new stadium here this session would appear to be a nonstarter."
This might be the one and only time state legislators hear testimony on this issue during the 2009 session. Assuming the Vikings don't get approval, they'll have 30 games -- including preseason -- left on their lease.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck thinks Sage Rosenfels would beat out Tarvaris Jackson in an open competition for the Vikings' starting job. Hasselbeck told Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune that he doesn't think Jackson "is a top-32 quarterback in the NFL" and added: "I'm not so sure he's a top-42 quarterback in the NFL."
- The Vikings are continuing to negotiate with center Matt Birk, who is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the week, according to Zulgad and Chip Scoggins.
- Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy believes the switch to a 3-4 will help his special teams as well, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune believes Bears general manager Jerry Angelo has turned up the heat on coach Lovie Smith by suggesting that the key to more success in 2009 is an improved coaching staff -- and not the prospects of a roster overhaul.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests New England safety Eugene Wilson as a possible replacement for departing starter Mike Brown.
- Detroit quarterback Dan Orlovsky says he will test free agency rather than immediately accept an offer from the Lions, according to John Niyo of the Detroit News.