NFL Nation: Chuck Darby

Aaron from Chicago wants to know why the Seattle Seahawks keep acquiring personnel from his favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield was the latest addition to the "Minnesota West" roster in Seattle.

"Ever since we controversially signed Steve Hutchinson from them," Aaron writes, "it has seemed as though the Seahawks go out of their way to snatch whatever Vikings they can to stick it to us. It started with them signing Nate Burleson, then Sidney Rice and Heath Farwell, Darell Bevell and Tarvaris Jackson (for whatever reason). They even outbid us for T.J. Houshmanzadeh a few years back. They signed Ryan Longwell at the end of this past season. Obviously, it has continued with Percy Harvin and now Winfield."

Sando: It's a remarkable pattern, but there's likely no revenge factor. The people running the Seahawks during the Hutchinson controversy are long gone from the organization. They were involved in adding Burleson and Houshmandzadeh, but they had nothing to do with the Seahawks' more recent deals for Rice, Farwell, Bevell, Jackson, Harvin or Winfield.

Bevell's hiring as the Seahawks' offensive coordinator stands out as a factor behind the team's decisions to sign Rice and trade for Harvin.

John Schneider's presence as the Seahawks' general manager since 2010 provides a strong link to the NFC North in general. Schneider, after spending much of his career with the Green Bay Packers, played a role in Seattle adding former NFC North players such as Breno Giacomini, Will Blackmon, Cliff Avril, Steven Hauschka, Brett Swain, Frank Omiyale and others. Also, Schneider and Bevell were together in Green Bay. However, Seattle has added many more players without ties to the Vikings or the NFC North.

For a while, the Detroit Lions signed or otherwise acquired a long list of players with Seahawks ties. There were some connections between the organizations -- former Lions coach Rod Marinelli and former Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell shared a history with Tampa Bay, for instance -- but some of the overlap defied explanation.

Tyler Polumbus, Burleson, Will Heller, Rob Sims, Lawrence Jackson, Maurice Morris, Julian Peterson, Trevor Canfield, Marquand Manuel, Kole Heckendorf, Kevin Hobbs, Logan Payne, Chuck Darby, Keary Colbert, Billy McMullen, Travis Fisher, Cory Redding, John Owens, Joel Filani, T.J. Duckett, Kevin Kasper, Etric Pruitt and Mike Williams were among the players to play for both organizations.

NFC North: Final Word

October, 2, 2009
10/02/09
4:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


Five nuggets of knowledge about this week’s games:

 
  Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI
 Forget Brett Favre, the Packers should really be worried about Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
With so much attention on the Brett Favre drama, it should be pointed out that Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson has punished Green Bay for most of his career. He could be primed for another big night against a Packers defense that has given up 300 rushing yards in its past two games. Peterson has run for at least 100 yards in three of his four career games against the Packers, including 192 last season at the Metrodome. The only exception came in 2007, when cornerback Al Harris’ low but legal tackle knocked him out of the game after 11 carries. Peterson returned the favor by drilling Harris with a forearm in the teams’ next meeting and seems fully engaged in the emotion of this rivalry.

Looking for a technical matchup to track Monday night at the Metrodome? ESPN Stats & Information suggests you follow how well Green Bay’s defense stands up to Minnesota’s two-tight end formation. The Vikings have used the alignment (which includes two receivers and one running back) more than all but four NFL teams this season. It has led to an average of 6.4 yards per play, be it a run or pass. That’s the third-best mark in the NFL. The Packers, on the other hand, have held teams to 4.3 yards per play against two-tight end sets. As much as anything, that’s a tribute to the transition of outside linebacker Aaron Kampman, along with the play of Brady Poppinga and rookie Clay Matthews.

Monday night will be a referendum on the Packers’ decision to stick with left tackle Chad Clifton for one more season. Clifton had surgery on both knees and shoulders this offseason, raising the question of how much he has left at age 33. The Packers didn’t craft much of a contingency plan should Clifton break down, and he’s already missed one game because of an ankle injury. He’s likely to miss this matchup as well, which would again force the Packers to move left guard Daryn Colledge to left tackle -- putting him in a difficult matchup against Vikings pass rush rusher Jared Allen. Clifton has had some success against Allen in the past, but I don’t like his chances on an injured ankle. And I definitely don’t like the Colledge matchup if there isn’t a lot of help involved. Colledge looked serviceable last week against St. Louis but you have to consider the quality of opponent.

Chicago would be smart to use Sunday’s game against Detroit to get its running game in order. The Lions have improved significantly against the run, ranking No. 16 among NFL teams, but it’s likely they will be short-handed on the defensive line. Tackle Sammie Lee Hill (ankle) and end Dewayne White (hamstring) both missed practice this week, while end Cliff Avril (hamstring) isn’t a certainty after missing the past two games. As a result, the Lions signed free agent Chuck Darby for emergency depth this week. We’ve discussed it before: Good running games are about quantity as much as quality. The Bears rank in the bottom third of the league in rushing attempts (76) this season. They need to elevate that number Sunday against the Lions.

Detroit has led at halftime in each of its past two games, but ESPN Stats & Information suggests the Lions will have a tough time holding any lead they might get at Soldier Field. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler already has generated two fourth-quarter comebacks this season, compiling a combined 114.3 passer rating in that span. Meanwhile, opposing quarterbacks have torched the Lions defense in the final stanza this season. The Lions have given up 249 passing yards and three touchdowns during their trio of fourth quarters, good for a 126.6 passer rating. Look at the bright side, though. This analysis alone is a sign of progress for the Lions. By the end of last season, no one was breaking down their chances for holding a fourth-quarter lead.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

A tip of the hat to NFC West colleague Mike Sando, who flagged the latest offering from a fellow known as AdamJT13 -- a blogger who has gained some cyber-fame for his ability to predict the NFL's awarding of compensatory draft picks.

The league has never publicized the formula it uses for this program, which gives extra selections to teams that lost more talent than it gained in free agency the previous year. The picks can be as high as the third round and as low as the seventh. I won't overwhelm you with too many details, but in general AdamJT13 -- whose true identity is unknown -- believes it is primarily based on the average annual value of the contracts in question.

Here is AdamJT13's personal blog, which lays out his methods.

Now, for the moment you've been waiting for: AdamJT13 predicts two NFC North teams will net extra picks when the NFL announces the results later this month.

Chicago Bears (3)

Detroit Lions (2)

Familiarity has its advantages

September, 9, 2008
9/09/08
12:04
PM ET
 
 Scott Boehm/Getty Images
 In his first game with his new team, Minnesota's Jared Allen said Monday's game was "one of the least productive games of my life."

 Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

The ball sailed past Minnesota receiver Bernard Berrian a few times. Once, it hit his feet. Another time, he couldn't adjust quickly enough as the ball was in the air.

On the other side of the ball, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen burst through the line a handful of times, tripped on a couple of plays and ultimately finished with what he called "one of the least productive games of my life."

In Atlanta, a defense stocked with newcomers was bumbling all over the field. The Detroit Lions gave up 21 points in the first quarter to the Falcons and never recovered.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears' veteran defense carried it to a surprising victory at Indianapolis. And the Green Bay Packers' homegrown roster proved to be the most decisive team on the field Monday night.

In retrospect, it shouldn't be a surprise that the NFC North teams who largely stood pat in the free-agent market were more prepared to play on the opening weekend of the season. High-profile acquisitions impress the media and whip up fan support, but it is a difficult task to bring a group of new veterans together in time to play your best football in September.

Perhaps that's why the Vikings were surprisingly calm and, in many cases, smiling after their 24-19 loss to the Packers on Monday night. Berrian entered the game with almost no game-speed work with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. They played one quarter of one preseason game together because of injuries. He ended up catching three of the seven passes Jackson threw his way.

Allen's unofficial stat line was filled with zeros, with the exception of one defensed pass. And yet when we ventured into the Vikings' locker room, you couldn't hear a bowling ball drop, let alone a pin. Players weren't exactly jubilant, but they seemed far from discouraged.

"We're going to be fine, man, really," nose tackle Pat Williams said. "We gave up a few big plays, and that's it. I'm not worried at all. If we can get a little more consistency and not give up big plays, we'll be alright. We've just got to work on a few small things."

(Read full post)

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