NFC North: Trent Green

MINNEAPOLIS -- Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and offensive coordinator Norv Turner took their quarterback search to the West Coast on Thursday, being spotted at Fresno State for Derek Carr's pro day. They'll reportedly stay out west on Friday, to take a look at San Jose State quarterback David Fales.

The Sacramento Bee reported Fales has a private workout scheduled with the Vikings for Friday, after he hit 52 of 53 passes in his pro day workout on Wednesday. Spielman had said the Vikings planned to take a look at 10 different quarterbacks, so it shouldn't be a major surprise that the Vikings would spend some time with Fales while they're in the area.

Fales is projected by many to be a mid-round pick in this spring's draft, but he's won favorable reviews because of his accuracy. ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, who was at Fales' pro day on Wednesday, called him a "Trent Green clone," and if that comparison to the former Redskins, Rams, Chiefs and Dolphins QB sticks in your head for any reason, it should be because Green got his first chance to start in 1998, when Turner was coaching the Redskins. In fact, when I was talking to Turner for our Hot Read piece on quarterback evaluation, he named Green as the quarterback whose improvement most surprised him in his years as a coach. We obviously don't know at this point if Turner saw the same comparison as Dilfer, but if he did, it might help him project how Fales would fit in his offense.

It's likely the Vikings will get face time with most of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft as they try to figure out their future at the position, but Fales could be a name to keep in mind if the middle rounds of the draft roll around and the Vikings are still looking for a young QB to develop.
At long last, we have a temporary backup quarterback in Chicago. The Bears signed free agent Matt Gutierrez on Wednesday, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com, after at least three other veterans turned down their overtures.

We've already discussed the decisions of Trent Green and Todd Collins. A third candidate, veteran Josh McCown, told the New Britain Herald that he also rejected the Bears' interest and will instead play for the UFL's Hartford Colonials.

This isn't so much about the Bears as it is about the very limited opportunity they were offering. With no guaranteed money involved in the contract offers, the Bears were obviously looking for a player to help with training camp drills and simply hold the place for injured No. 2 Caleb Hanie.

If anything, we learned during this episode that the Bears are both committed to Hanie as Jay Cutler's backup and that his sprained right shoulder is not a long-term injury.
Any doubts about the Chicago Bears' long-term plans for their No. 2 quarterback position should be erased. Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reports the Bears are not offering guaranteed money to any of the potential backups they are pursuing, a strong indication that they intend for Caleb Hanie to remain the understudy to starter Jay Cutler once his sprained right shoulder heals.

As a result, free agent Todd Collins rejected the Bears' offer Tuesday morning. Veterans Trent Green and Damon Huard have also shunned the Bears' interest.

An offer with no guaranteed money suggests the Bears want a camp arm they can release with no financial obligation when Hanie returns. A player like Collins or Huard, even though they are without a team, want more of an assurance that they have a chance to make the final 53-man roster.

A veteran with experience in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's scheme would be preferable to the alternative, but at this point the Bears aren't willing to pay for that luxury. Stay tuned.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Although backup quarterback Caleb Hanie's right shoulder injury isn't deemed serious, it appears the Chicago Bears aren't taking any chances. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears are attempting to sign veteran free agent Todd Collins as insurance to starter Jay Cutler.

The Bears also reached out to retired veteran Trent Green but were rebuffed. Although Collins has never played for offensive coordinator Mike Martz, he learned a similar scheme while in Kansas City under former coach Dick Vermeil.

I know there was plenty of talk about the Bears signing a veteran backup this offseason, but I'm not sure I would read the Collins situation as a signal that Hanie won't regain his job when healthy. The Bears are in a tough predicament here. Rookie Dan LeFevour hasn't gotten much work with the offense in camp and wouldn't be ready to back up Cutler if needed. The same would be true of a so-called camp arm who had no familiarity with the Martz scheme.

Collins, on the other hand, could step in on a short-term basis with much less preparation. Let's just see how this goes.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Green is entrenched as a broadcaster and uninterested in returning to the field, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • The Bears are hoping for a quick recovery from rookie safety Major Wright, writes Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald.
  • It was surprising to see the Bears make three special teams mistakes Saturday night at San Diego, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice (hip) doesn't appear close to returning to practice, according to the Star Tribune, but he did work on change-of-direction drills for the first time Monday.
  • It's another "typically atypical August" for quarterback Brett Favre, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
  • The Green Bay Packers are waiting for running back Ryan Grant (concussion) to be cleared by a neurologist before he returns to practice, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "Brandon Jackson doesn't know how long this will last -- perhaps only until Tuesday night -- but as long as the Green Bay Packers' running back ranks are this thin, then he's going to enjoy every overworked minute of it."
  • Packers rookie Bryan Bulaga continues to split time at left guard with starter Daryn Colledge, writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • Detroit Lions cornerback Jonathan Wade is dealing with a fractured finger, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
  • Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh dealt with double-teams in the preseason opener at Pittsburgh. Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News has more.
  • Lions defensive end Cliff Avril has made substantial progress this summer, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Of all the reasons Brett Favre might cite for playing one more season, I think we've found the most interesting. Jason Vida of ESPN's Stats & Information points out that Favre certainly won't want to be known as the best quarterback in the history of the NFL to throw an interception on the final pass of his career.

Favre
Favre
As you might have heard, New Orleans Saints cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted Favre at the end of regulation in the NFC Championship Game, and the Vikings did not get a possession in overtime. If that turns out to be the last pass of Favre's career, he would immediately jump to the top of a well-researched list Vida recently sent my way.

So check it out as we continue to count down the minutes until the start of training camp:

10. Kordell Stewart (Dec. 28, 2003)

9. Jake Plummer (Dec. 31, 2006)

8. Scott Mitchell (Nov. 25, 2001)

7. Jim Harbaugh (Nov. 12, 2000)

6. Trent Green (Nov. 23, 2008)

5. Phil Simms (Jan. 15, 1994)

4. Drew Bledsoe (Oct. 23, 2006)

3. Ken Stabler (Oct. 21, 1984)

2. George Blanda (Dec. 21, 1975)

1. Sonny Jurgensen (Dec. 22, 1974)
There should no longer be any doubt about the Chicago Bears' desire for a veteran backup quarterback. Retired NFL quarterback Trent Green, who last played in 2008, confirmed a report Thursday that the Bears approached him to gauge his interest in the job.

Green, who turns 40 in July, told ESPN 1000 in Chicago that there is no possibility he will sign with the Bears. He admitted he "chewed on it for a couple weeks" but ultimately decided to keep his family rooted in Kansas City.

Green played for Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz when the two were with St. Louis. It's been widely assumed that Martz would prefer a backup who is familiar with his scheme. Currently, Caleb Hanie and rookie Dan LeFevour are the backups to starter Jay Cutler.

We've discussed Marc Bulger and Josh McCown as likely candidates if the Bears move in that direction. Both are free agents and played for Martz at some point during their careers. I guess stranger things have happened, but it's probably a safe bet to assume the Bears will bring in at least one more quarterback at some point this summer.
Hope everyone had a pleasant weekend. Those of us who stayed with LOST to The End are a bit bleary-eyed here Monday morning. But then again, what is a Monday without a few yawns?

In the offseason, Monday morning "Black and Blue all over" entries (BBAO!) are about catching up from the weekend, and so we'll start by noting this tweet from longtime NFC North friend and current New Orleans safety Darren Sharper. Here's what Sharper had to say late Friday night after learning of quarterback Brett Favre's left ankle surgery:

  1. Darren Sharper
    sharper42 Well y'all seen Brett had surgery on that ankle we got after in the championship game. Come Thursday night 1st game. X marks the spot.

Sharper, of course, is referring to the Minnesota-New Orleans season opener Sept. 9. It was also a nod to a third-quarter play in the NFC Championship Game, when Saints defensive end Bobby McCray grabbed the same ankle and yanked down Favre after a pass. The NFL later fined McCray $20,000 and said he should have been penalized for the play.

You don't hear players speaking publicly about it often, but this is a standard part of what the NFL game has come to -- and it's why some coaches are so hesitant to release injury information. When a player is reported to have a weakness, real or imagined, you can expect opponents to pounce.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • ESPNChicago.com has everything you want to know about the Chicago Bears' three-day minicamp on its Bears blog, including the news that veteran free-agent linebacker Brian Iwuh is set to sign a contract.
  • Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune refers to the Bears' defense as "radically different" from last year's group.
  • The Bears have discussed the possibility of signing currently-retired quarterback Trent Green as a backup, according to Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press on Lions linebacker Julian Peterson: "Now it seems Peterson could play an important role next season. The Lions' active offseason has left him as the only established starting linebacker and a big beneficiary of a revamped defensive line. The Lions are going to need him to make plays, and he should be in better position to make them."
  • The Lions are happy with the progress of linebacker Zack Follett, who is trying to win the starting job vacated by the traded Ernie Sims, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Free Press.
  • Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Daryn Colledge is hoping to remain at left guard because it's "my best position," he told Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Packers defensive lineman Justin Harrell: "It's hardly a stretch to say it's a make-or-break year for him."

Chatting about QB competitions

April, 13, 2009
4/13/09
3:56
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Thanks to everyone who joined us for Monday's chat over at SportsNation. We discussed the draft, touched on the excitement surrounding ESPN Chicago and broke down Facebook on both a micro and macro level. Deep.

Jake-Minneapolis: Has a team ever made the Super Bowl with an open QB competition in training camp?

SportsNation Kevin Seifert: I think that's an EXCELLENT question and one I plan to follow up on. Stay tuned.

Jake was referring to the Vikings' plan of pitting Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels in a traditional summer competition in which each player gets equal snaps and similar time with the No. 1 offense. Nothing immediately jumped to mind. But as time allows, I will comb through the training camp histories of each Super Bowl winner to see if it's happened before.

Feel free to chime in yourselves, either through the mailbag or in the comments section below.

One thing to keep in mind: There have been numerous instances when a backup quarterback has taken over in training camp or in midseason because of health or other reasons. New England's Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001. Kurt Warner replaced Trent Green during St. Louis' training camp in 1999. Washington's Doug Williams replaced Jay Schroeder in 1987.

But for the purpose of this exercise, let's focus on a replica of the Vikings' plan: Two players competing with equal opportunities for a good portion of training camp.

The connotation of Jake's question is two-fold:

  1. Quarterback competitions can be distracting and ultimately leave the winner with less preparation time than he would have enjoyed as the unquestioned starter.
  2. Having two quarterbacks deemed close to equal means you might not have the kind of dynamic starter needed to win the Super Bowl.

Let's reconvene at a time to be announced later.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8