Hi everyone. I'm a minute late! Darn. Put it on my tab. Let's get to it.
Another chicago quarterback not performing well. This seems fimiliar and this one is a franchise QB. How can no blame be put on Ron Turner the offensive coordinator. He has been the only constant for the offense except maybe Olin Kreutz and the offense has never performed exceptionaly well throughout a season. Can you explain how that works?
Yeah, in the absence of firing Lovie Smith, I would have to think Ron Turner is the next on the firing line. He's had a tough job trying to transition the offense a power running game to one based around Cutler in one offseason. But I don't know who else Smith could blame.
Sorry, Kevin, I can only make it at 1 p.m., CDT.
Well, then. Welcome.
Is Brad Jones the real deal or was his play an anomoly and if he is then don't you think the Pack made a big mistake by not trading Kampman?
Hard to judge a rookie's first game, but it wasn't hard to judge the comments about him from both Dom Capers and Mike McCarthy. They like him a lot and it sounds like they're going to find a way to get him into the lineup ... much like the Packers have done with T.J. Lang on the other side of the ball.
Assuming the Bears miss the playoffs and finish 8-8 or worse, which I feel is a safe bet, what would you bet that Lovie gets canned? Your lunch, your car or your house?
Maybe my lunch -- and I'm on a diet. $11 million is a lot for the McCaskeys to pay Smith to leave.
Why wasn't the horse collar tackle called on Buchanan when he brought AD down? Also, the helmet to helmet hit on Matthew Stafford from Ray Edwards was bogus also. Your thoughts?
I've pretty much accepted that half of the roughing penalties involving quarterbacks are going to be sketchy, so I have a hard time getting too excited about those. The horsecollar was a flat-out miss. Should have been called.
If the saints and vikings have the same record going into the playoffs what is the first tiebreaker?
First one is head-to-head, which wouldn't apply because they don't play each other in the regular season. Next one is conference record. Then we go to common games and strength of victory.
Since the Packers finished 6-10 last year would 7-9 or 8-8 be viewed as a successful season?
I don't think so, no. Given the expectations surrounding this team, anything short of the playoffs would be disappointing.
Is it unrealistic to think that if the season ended now, Brett Favre should get MVP honors? I mean, he's leadind the league in QB ratings, top 5 in TD passes (even with AD), has fewer INT than any of the starting QB's, top 3 in Comp %, and is leading a team to an 8-1 record so far... your thoughs please
I'm guessing it will be Peyton Manning, if all things remain equal. But Favre should be in the top 3.
I know Cutler's decision making is not always the best, but couldnt you argue that with defenses not having to respect the Bears running game at all, that he just has to make those throws sometimes? After all he cant just throw the ball away three times in a row all the time.
Interesting. The reversal of the eight-man-in-the box theory when a team doesn't throw well. But in this case, there is always a checkdown route he can throw to rather than try to force it downfield. So I can't remove much of the blame for Cutler's INTs.
The Lions look better than last year, but still not good enough to win games. DTs, CBs, OTs, better receivers behind Clavin Johnson. Mayhew still has alot of work ahead of him, but I like the direction they are heading. Is it too soon to be optimistic that the Lions won't suck forever?
I'm actually addressing that a little later today on the blog. I think they still have a huge talent gap.
Hey Kevin, always good work by you covering ALL teams in the division. In your estimation - is the breakthrough of Sidney Rice directly related to Favre or is it more of a combination of factors? Personally, I'm not surprised to see what he is doing this year given the monster numbers he put up in the SEC with the marginal talent tossing him the football on a weekly basis.
Thanks Ryan. I think it's a perfect storm of factors, actually. Rice is in his third year, and he's had time to adjust to the speed and strength of this game. He made a huge commitment to get better in the offseason through better conditioning. And he has a quarterback that isn't afraid to take a chance.
So many of Stafford's passes were dropped on Sunday. Not that I'm making a direct comparison to Joey but he had those issues with the receivers as well. Kitna not as much. Do some QB's just throw a harder ball to catch or is this just mindset thing?
Could be an accuracy thing, I'm not sure. But drops are on the receivers, not the quarterback. An NFL receiver should be able to catch the ball if it's anywhere near him.
What do you think is the Lions most Glaring need, O-Line, D-Line or Corner?
In the post I'm putting up later today, those are the three top needs I identify. But cornerbacks are hard for any team to find. It would be a crime against humanity if they don't make both lines their highest priority this winter. I think they should start with their offensive line, but that's me.
If it came down to the NFC Championship Saints vs Vikings don't you think vikings would definitly have an advantage.. Better rusher, better defense(besides sharper), and around same QB play??
Home field could be the difference.
Ndamukong Suh.... Lions starting DT next season?
Could he double as a left tackle?
Why such the outcry over the Edwards Roughing penalty...Need I remind you of your own words....Dirty Laundry Nov 4 (http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_/id/5666/dirty-laundry-more-roughing-the-passer)
Agreed 100 percent. That's just the way it goes this year in the NFL.
Once again, the Lions are in real danger of the poison pill of the #1 overall pick. They can neither absorb nor need another high-priced rookie. Is there any prayer of them unloading that albatross on anybody else?
Don't agree. They can absorb that player from a talent level. They're pretty short on blue-chip players. The Fords might not want to pay that kind of cash, but they need elite players. It's still an opportunity, if not an expensive one.
Kevin,Did Aaron Rodgers make more of the play calls this last game or did McCarthy actually change his scheme?
Hey Blutos... I think McCarthy intentionally pulled things back, probably with Rodgers' blessing, in anticipation of the Cowboys' pass rush.
I wanna believe the Lions can win against Cleveland, but after the sad loss to the Rams I don't have anything to support that. Got anything to say that can give me a little hope?
You watch the Browns last night? Enough said....
Do you agree that Matt Forte is best suited as a 3rd down back? He doesn't have the speed or strength to be an everydown guy. He'd be perfect in the Chester Taylor role.
Perhaps, but you would have to have a pretty elite back for him to start ahead of Forte. Remember that Chester Taylor was Minnesota's starter until Adrian Peterson fell in the draft. I think Forte is the kind of runner who can get 1,200 yards behind a good offensive line but won't make too many yards of his own behind one that's struggling.
Is there a specific reason the Vikings chose to use a number of gadget plays in the redzone last week? Are they trying to give future opponents something to think about?
Favre said they were trying to take advantage of a "fast-flow" defense. I think that's a nice way of saying they thought the Lions would fall for the fakes. And I think the botched reverse to Harvin would have scored if he had gotten the ball cleanly.
Which should we be more concerned about, that Adrian was caught from behind (maybe let up on the run) or that he is still carrying the ball out away from his body?
Phillip Buchanon is a 4.31 guy. I don't think too many people will catch Peterson like that. So I'll take the latter.
What is the problem with Bernard B? He is dropping passes, not getting separation from the cbs
I don't know. I wonder if this is going to be one of those years that, when it's over, we come to find out that the hamstring he pulled in the preseason never was "right" during the season.
Maybe on your "Falling" list today you should've listed Peterson's break-away speed. I know that Buchanon is no slouch speed-wise, but c'mon....is AD hurt or has he already lost a step?
If it were someone besides Buchanon, I'd be worried. If it happens again, then we hit the panic button.
A horsecollar has to involve yanking of the player, not just pulling down of the jersy or pads. The replay of the Ray Edwards hit clearly shows Edwards above the shoulder pads of Stafford, his path directly at his head, and Staffords head snapping around to the side. Is it possible you are looking at these two plays from a biased positon?
Grr. No. First off, on the Stafford play, I didn't say it was a good or bad call. I'm just saying that people need to accept anything close will be called this season and proceed accordingly. As for the horsecollar, my understanding is that it involved tackling a player when you put your hand inside the shoulder pads... I don't think it requires a "yank."
And your thoughts on the Packers most glaring needs.
At this point, I'll say LT is their biggest long-term need. They also need to continue to address the linebacker position.
ok now that was what the packers D is suppose to look like! they showed that the first game of the season and throughout preseason (i know i know don't say it) but finally they came and dominated like they could, and woodson took the game over like he could. has the defense turned the corner?
Here is what's happened: They've put a standard on tape for how they're capable of playing against a pretty good offense. I don't know if it will go that way every week. But we know it's there.
All stats aside, what is your take on Rodgers up to this point?
Honestly, he's a 5-4 quarterback. That's the record of the team he's starting for. His stats are great. When you watch him in person, he looks good. That's how I would describe him.
do you think brian cushing get more credit than clay matthews?
Well, Matthews is just getting into the starting lineup here in the past few weeks. He doesn't have a full body of work to evaluate.
Though I have a somewhat sketchy history of blaming other people for my son's problems, I sort of have a point about the Bears' quarterback woes, don't I?
Yes, I saw your story in the Chicago Tribune. I think it's misguided. There's no ghoul inhabiting the Bears' complext that makes good quarterbacks bad. The facts are Cutler is forcing the ball. He doesn't have the best receiving corps and his line is shaky. But it's on him to adjust.
Not sure I've seen this mentioned anywhere, but do you think Cutler is pressing to get Olsen the ball too much down in the redzone. I mean, the play before the last pick, he threw it to Olsen who was tripled covered. I'm sure that fact wasnt lost on the SF defenders. I would have prefered Bennet get the pass, I'm sure he was tripled covered
Yeah, we talked about that a bit after the 49ers game. He is absolutely focused on Olsen, and to a greater extent, the tight end position, in the red zone. I think he was throwing to Kellen Davis on one of the other interceptions Thursday night. On the final play of the game, Bennett was wide open.
I noticed Leber was in on some nickel packages against the lions. Is this attributed to him playing better, EJ being hurt, or just a normal substitution? Its just been a while since I've seen Leber playing the nickel package. I've asked about Leber before and believe he is a better linebacker than given credit.
This happens every year. They start the season with Leber leaving the field in the nickel situation. Then their pass defense gets lit up and they realize it's because one of their better players is on the sideline. So then they make Leber one of their nickel linebackers and things calm down.
If the Bears did fire Ron Turner, who would be your bet to replace him? What about Mike Martz?
Interesting thought ... Martz and Lovie obviously have a history. But then we could throw Martz's comments on Cutler's press conferences into the mix!
...you do know that I was obligated to drop at least one pass from T-Jack for old times sake.
It's like Kryptonite.
Asher Allen has played well when he's been in. How come he hasn't been in more?
Typical rookie growing pains, from what I understand.
Why would any fan be concerned about AP being caught by a DB with 4.3 speed? I swear some of the questions you answer are mentally challenged.
Disagree with you on that one, at least. Peterson also has 4.3ish speed and, before Sunday, really had never been caught from behind. It was an exceptional, unusual play and merited further discussion.
When Tommie Harris catches Adrian Peterson from behind, then I might get a little worried.
Exactly. You never know what he might do if that happens.
What's with the Jekyll & Hyde with Buchanon? You have him listed as rising stock and no mention of his tackle/penalty and then claim a missed penalty on a play where the action did not meet the definition of immediately pulling him down.
I prefer "Two-Face" of Batman fame. I thought he made an excellent play to catch Peterson. Officials missed the tackle penalty. Two different issues.
so after 10 weeks, the packers have a top 5 defense... legit?
The numbers are the numbers. But when you look at how they did in the two Minnesota games, which essentially knocked them out of the division race, it's hard to consider them elite.
Looking at the rest of the schedule, what percentage chance would you give to the Vikes matching their 15-1 mark of 98? Also whats the handicap on the Saints matching, its never happened that two teams have went 15-1 in the same conference has it?
Not high. I've been thinking that late game at Soldier Field would be a loss for a long time.
Kevin, with the Packers sudden defensive emergence... I have been intrigued by a potential Packers / Vikings showdown in the playoffs. I have heard on numerous ESPN shows (First Take, Sportsnation, Mike & Mike) that it is extremely difficult for any team to defeat the same opponent three times in a single season and that it rarely happens. With that said, what do you think the Packers chances are of nabbing a wildcard and being hosted at Mall of America Field come playoff time?
I'm not sure if it will happen or not. But I do remember the 2004 season, when Green Bay beat the Vikings twice in the regular season and then lost at home in the playoffs.
Here is the quick wiki:The horse-collar tackle is an American football maneuver in which a defender tackles another player by grabbing the back-inside of an opponent's shoulder pads from behind and yanking the player down. The technique is most closely associated with Pro Bowl former Dallas Cowboys and current Cincinnati Bengals star safety Roy Williams. This kind of tackle was banned from the NFL during the 2005 offseason; the rule forbidding it is often referred to in the press as "The Roy Williams Rule."Look it up.
Here is the direct wording from the rule book: "grabbing the inside collar of the back of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling down the runner. This does not apply to a runner who is in the tackle box or to a quarterback who is in the pocket."
I don't know if he immediately pulled him down, but he tried.
Mathew Stafford is going to have a ridiculously good game against the Browns. Yay or Nay, good sir! With details.
Define "ridiculously." ... He should win. Put it that way.
Isn't Childress not getting enough credit for this season? He did put his reputation on the line by committing to Favre and all phases especially the special teams are very well balanced and improved.
I'll say what I've always said: A coach deserves to be judged purely by his record. The Vikings are 8-1 this season. Childress has done an exceptional job.
Kevin, let's back up here. How is Favre a top 3 MVP candidate? I know his numbers are spectacular, but I would put AP and Allen ahead of him. Specifically as to AP, if you put Favre on a team with a much worse RB situation (see, Peyton Manning), I don't think Favre puts up nearly the same numbers. Favre is playing with the benefit of (1) a top 3 RB, and (2) a top 5-10 OL. I think Peyon and Brees are by far more valuable to their teams, along with AP, Allen, Brady, among others.
The Vikings have basically the same team this year as they had last year, except for Favre (and Harvin). Favre's been the difference in at least 2-3 wins. He's made a good team great.
martz and marinelli have a history too
Several of us in the NFCN blog have noted that Pat Williams has not seemed himself the past couple of games and is more winded on the sidelines. Is there some physical ailment or injury going on that we are not aware of? It is concerning.
Nothing that's gotten out. I do think it's pretty obvious they're rationing his play a lot more this year. It's either old age or an injury they're hiding.
True or False: The NFC North will not provide a wild card. Between Atlanta, Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants, I would not be surprised to see the North 2nd place winner miss the playoffs.
I go back and forth depending on which way the wind is blowing, but I'm not losing hope for the Packers yet.
From US today when the Horse-collar penalty was instituted,"As it is written, the rule wouldn't prohibit a defender from grabbing the shoulder pad and using leverage to propel into the back of the ballcarrier. The immediate yanking down, committee members say, increases the injury risk." Does this change your "understanding"?
Yes, I understand what you're saying. :)
What do you think of Charles Woodsen's perfomance on Sunday? I think he is extremely under rated in the national media on just how good he is and do you think he deserves to be in the HOF?
It was awesome. No debate. That's what you expect from your top players in times of crisis. As for the Hall of Fame, I'm not sure. But if he plays a few more years, his interception totals are going to be up there. That will be a big measure.
Can Brian Robison reach his ultimate goal of messing up on a bonehead play in every game from here on out?
He's well on his way.
What's up with Jimmy Kennedy? Where did he come from? I thought he'd worked himself out of the NFL.
Good observation. He's made a lot more plays than I thought he was capable of. He was basically out of the league last year when the Vikings picked him up around the time of the original Williams Wall suspensions. The Vikings have a really good DL coach in Karl Dunbar, and they just let Kennedy try to get upfield.
Seems to me that T.J. Lang should be plugged in at LG if Tauscher is healthy. I think Tausch still gives them the best chance at RT and Colledge is having a very subpar season after playing well last year. Or is that too much line shuffling?
Tauscher isn't healthy, I don't think. And I do think that's too much shuffling. Wherever they put Lang, they need to keep him there. Let Colledge work his issues out.
Would you say Sidney Rice is the best WR in the NFC North at this point?
Production-wise, it's no contest. I'd still take Greg Jennings or Calvin Johnson first if I were building a team.
Dick Jauron just got fired from Buffalo...any chance he comes back after Lovie gets fired? HA HA, just kidding, although I wouldn't put it past Chicago Bears front office management!
Yes, that's breaking news and it's true. Jauron was fired. No, the Bears won't hire him.
Our next "Have at it" should involve quarterbacks and receivers with dropped balls. Is the receiver's mindset changes with who's throwing
Not a bad idea. I'll look into it.
Should I really consider benching Cutler? Can any good come of it?
I don't think so, no. You just gave Cutler a contract extension. He's not going anywhere. You've got to find a way to make it work with him.
Can I ask Mike of Eau Claire to define "too much line shuffling" please?
Here's mine: Anything more than what you've already done.
Seriously though, why in the world would Martz be considered in Chicago? It would be a horrible idea on several levels.
I don't think he would. It was just an interesting idea.
As far as Viking improvements from last year - you've got to include Sydney Rice in that too. Right OT has changed a bit also.
OK, everyone. Time to check out. Thanks so much for stopping by!