Archive for the ‘NFC North’ Category

Vikings release Randy Moss

November 1, 2010

Wow – that was fast. Read here. Here are some thoughts:

  • Did Moss go on some sort of private tirade in front of Childress last night – directed at Childress?
  • Had Moss been a thorn in Chilly’s side since day one (possible considering Moss came on as buddies with Favre…who can’t stand Childress)?
  • Were the Vikes just tired of all the drama, the lack of effort, the undermining comments after the game last night to the media?
  • Is Randy Moss not taking his meds…seriously?
  • Did Randy Moss just realize quickly that Brad Childress sucks – and so does playing for the Vikes?
  • What if he fell to the Packers through the waiver wire? Would he be worth the gamble? As much as I’m almost always a fan of exploring a potential player acquisition, and as much as he would help make our offense really tough to stop, he’s just not worth the gamble right now. Interestingly, if we were sitting at 3-5, I might feel differently, but not at 5-3 with some positive momentum.
  • Regardless of how it happened, it’s pretty funny that it happened.

UPDATE: Not sure how this escaped the final draft of this post, but my theory on what really happened was that Childress took his personal frustration out on Moss because Childress was trying to regain “control” of a team he’s lost control over (because of Favre). He wanted to assert himself as THE GUY. Just read this from PFT that supports this theory – seems more and more that Childress is that retail store manager with the store keys on a key chain around his arm trying to exert control over things he doesn’t really have control over.

Is Moss trade happening too late for Vikes?

October 6, 2010

Funny – I just wrote a lengthy post explaining in good detail why this trade was going to hurt the Packers. I talked about the psychological boost this trade will provide to a team with sagging confidence and a 1-2 record. I talked about how Moss would at the least offer up an extra distraction for defenses that are already super-worried about Adrian Peterson. I talked about how with Shiancoe and Harvin healthy (and possibly when Rice returns), defending the Vikes could be a real problem. I talked about how Favre is finally getting his wish and how this is such a mental boost for him (especially considering his mental game is way off this year – because he’s having trouble managing the expectations after success from last year…an issue that manifests itself when Favre forces the issue/turnovers). I talked about how smart the Vikings’ front office is and how I have quietly admired them now for several years – especially their willingness to take risks like picking up Jared Allen. I also rather immodestly gave myself props for predicting Favre/Vikes success last year and for predicting their failings this year.

Then I deleted the whole post when I looked at the Vikings schedule because I began to think this trade may be happening a couple games too late. The Vikes are 1-2 right now. They have the Jets in NY this week, then Dallas at home, then the Pack at Lambeau, and then a game at NE. Brutal 4 game schedule. It’s entirely possible they’re 1-6 by the end of it. But even if they’re 2-5 that may be enough failure for there to be dissension within the ranks. I’m not sure Favre, Moss or the Vikes would deal well with failure after such a big-time trade. On the other hand, if they do get by with 2 victories in those 4 games, then the trade may eventually pay off yet this year.  The next 4-5 weeks should be very interesting for our rivals – but at the least, I tip my hat to the Vikings’ front office for taking a chance when a chance needed to be taken.

Randy Moss to Vikings rumors growing

October 6, 2010

Jay Glazer first reported this and since the initial reports, of course, everyone potentially involved is denying it. Read here from Glazer’s initial report.

No doubt Favre is pestering Wilf and company re getting Randy Moss. While Moss appears to me to have lost a step, he’s still talented and could feel a sort of rebirth in Minnesota – united at last with a QB who has wanted to play with him for years now. This should be a concern for Packer fans because Moss on the Vikings, coupled with the eventual return of Sidney Rice (and the emergence of Shiancoe and Harvin), suddenly would make the Vikes receiving group quite scary.

Check this out from an angry Bears’ fan

September 28, 2010

Thomas Paine Says:
September 28, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Reply edit

Silly, silly Packer fans. So much stupidity posted here…where to begin.

Yes, Forte did fumble. But it was recovered by the Bears. Moot point other than maybe a couple of yards one way or the other.

The Burnett play was absolutely pass interference. Bennett was trying to make a play on the ball – Burnett was not. Watch the replay – Bennett stopped at about the 12 to position himself to try to catch the ball. Burnett made contact with him and drove him back to the 8. Moving the receiver 4 yards is not having “position”. It is illegal contact, which if the ball is in the air, is called pass interference. There is no debating that. Not to mention Burnett grabbed Bennett’s arms (note the plural, as in BOTH arms). There is no question it was pass interference, and to argue otherwise either proves your complete lack of objectivity, or your ignorance about the game. Or both.

And the idiot who is suggesting the game was fixed because of the disparity in penalties is just foolish. The Packers played horribly. The majority of the penalties came from the offensive line which was clearly out-matched by the faster Bear defenders. Not a conspiracy, just proof that the might Pack isn’t what you thought they were. Sure there were some bad calls. But there are in every game. Bad calls against the Bears too – that roughing the passer call on Melton was very weak and changed the entire drive. And that non-tackle of Kuhns – while corrected by replay — that was about the worst call I’ve ever seen.

But the real point I want to make is this. The Packers are grossly over-rated, and to think that the Bears robbed them is missing what really happened. The Packers have a great passing offense, which looks nice on SportsCenter, but that alone doesn’t make them a great team. Their offensive line is terrible. Secondary, terrible (but with potential). Running game, terrible. Special teams, terrible. Team discipline, terrible. Head coaching, terrible. Even the ‘great’ defense isn’t physically dominant and relies heavily on confusion to succeed, and that can be contained by a well coached team. The majority of the penalties from last night were because the Packers couldn’t match up on a talent basis, and the only chance they had was to ‘cheat’. Yes, the Bears did get a bit lucky but that is the case in every close game — the bounce of a ball, call of an official, slip of a defender, etc. Very good chance the Packers win in Lambeau in January, but that doesn’t mean they were the better team last night. They played foolishly and exposed several weaknesses, and got beat. Not by the refs, but by the Bears. So stop the whining.

MY RESPONSE:

Paine – such arrogance.

1)  I’m not sure the Bears recovered the Forte fumble. But even if this is the one thing you’re right about, whether or not they recovered it is a “moot” point” itself  because the whistle blew the play dead while the play was still going on. It’s possible the Packers could have recovered it if the play hadn’t been blown dead – that’s why they don’t allow challenges of such plays. Of course, on the first Nick Collins pick on the last drive, the whistle wasn’t blown until the officials saw that the Packers recovered Collins’ fumble.
2)  I’ve watched the Burnett replay several times. Burnett went up with Bennett, Burnett was facing the QB more than Bennett, they bumped into each other both going for the ball (incidental contact) and then Collins picked off the pass that Bennett couldn’t have caught anyway. I’m willing to listen to other opinions on the play certainly and can admit it was at least close, but your assertion that we all must not know anything about football if we don’t see it your totally biased way is absurd. Charles Woodson, a credible elder statesman in the NFL made it a specific point in an interview last night to criticize that particular call. And he knows football…

3)  The Packers are a good team – not ‘terrible’ in every facet except pass offense as you indicate. That’s just plain inaccurate. We didn’t play well last night, committed some dumb penalties, made boneheaded errors – yes. And we barely lost to a team that was overjoyed to beat a team they knew was better.

4)  That Melton play was no different than the play our Frank Zombo made a few series later – that also helped sustain a drive for the Bears. I happen to think both were poor calls – either way, you try to point out how the officiating was just bad all around, but then give an example of a play that was immediately offset by the same bad call against the Packers.

5)  Your assertion that the Packers had to “cheat” because they couldn’t match-up on a talent-basis is ridiculous. The Bears are not a more talented team. Period. They were lucky to win the game last night and lucky to beat Detroit in Week 1.

READERS – YOUR RESPONSE?

Main concern for Packers/Bears game

September 27, 2010

I have listened to some radio shows in recent days talking about the Packers/Bears game. And one thing few people seem to be talking about is the defense of the Bears. Most of the attention (around here anyway) is on how awesome Rodgers is, how great our WRs are and how easily Cutler will be rattled by Matthews. All of those things are/may be true. But nobody seems to be giving the Bears’ D any credit here.

I am really concerned about the Bears’ defense. Lance Briggs is a very good player. Urlacher isn’t as good as he used to be but he is essentially the soul of the defense so he maintains a significant on-field presence (and he’s still savvy enough to make big-time plays). Peppers is the guy people refer to now when talking about the Bears’ D – and he’s back and as good as advertised – but to me, the one thing over time that is often overlooked is the Bears’ D-Line. Mark Anderson and Tommie Harris are also disruptive players. The line seems to be able to get pressure often rushing just 4-5 (and sometimes even 3). I realize their overall defensive personnel has been better in the past, but they still have some quality players. (I should throw Charles Tillman in there with the good ones, not because he’s technically that good of a CB anymore, but more because he can be standing still picking dandelions and somehow cause a turnover.)

Last Sunday, the Bears’ D held the Dallas running game (Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice – 3 very good backs), to 36 yards. And after two games, the Bears are leading the NFL in rushing defense giving up an average of just 28 yards per game. I know it’s only been 2 games but that’s ridiculous. So, assuming we struggle with our running game, that puts extra pressure on Rodgers and frankly our O-Line to keep Rodgers standing if he has to throw all day. And of course, without much of a running game, our clock management, offensive balance and ability to give our defense a rest all suffer.

So to me, these are the key questions for tonight’s game: will McCarthy still try and force the run, and if so, can Brandon Jackson deliver? Will the Bears play the run as aggressively as they did last week or will they disrespect it like Buffalo started to do last week?

I think this will be a better game than most people seem to think.

Fumbling remedy?

September 7, 2010

It’s interesting how often I seem to read about a guy having fumbling issues being put through a bunch of drills to help him hold onto the ball better. On one level, it seems to make sense: if there is a problem, raise awareness of the issue, seek some help, do some drills,  and try to overcome it.

But I’m just not sure I like this approach for fumbling. I just read the following from a Clark Judge article at cbssports.com about Adrian Peterson’s fumbling problem:

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: He has the strongest handshake on earth, yet he hasn’t figured out to hold on to the football. Not yet, at least, and I don’t get it. Neither do the Vikings, who put Peterson through all sorts of ball-security drills this summer, hoping to reduce or eliminate the yips that plagued him and the Vikings in last year’s conference championship game. “Really,” said Peterson, who fumbled seven times during the regular season, “my thing is all mental. On the majority of my fumbles, I’m going down and I find myself putting the ball out and bracing myself. So I just have to be more cautious about that, and keep it high and tight.” Peterson is a marvelous back, one of the two best in the game, but he must clean up the fumbling for Minnesota to go forward.

Again, putting a guy through “all sorts of ball security drills” may seem to most like a perfectly valid thing to do when a guy has a fumbling problem. But I’d take a different approach – an approach that may seem to run in the face of what I do professionally (counseling/workplace consulting). I would stop talking about it completely. I wouldn’t put the RB through special drills, make him carry a ball around with him everywhere (like some coaches have done) or any of the other contrived methods. I would simply say at the beginning of spring camp “hey, don’t fumble so much this year”. Thereafter, not a word.

Sometimes I think it can be a bad thing for some folks, if they become overly aware of a weakness. It can be mentally debilitating. Adrian Peterson and other fumblers know they have a fumbling problem. They know that their fumbling hurts their respective teams. So why pound it home? If they have a fumbling problem in the first place, they are probably a bit mentally rattled already – as Peterson essentially notes above. Further rattling won’t help. To be clear, I’m not saying this because I think ball-security drills are harsh for players etc – not at all. I just think that in order to curb the fumbling problem, it would be smarter to not say much of anything.

(For the Packers’ sake, I hope Peterson becomes so overly conscious of fumbling he just runs around as fast as Lynn Dickey with 2 arms around the ball the whole time, or that he just falls down before tacklers come to get him – like Favre did for Strahan.)


Why will the Bears be good this year?

August 9, 2010
  • Brian Urlacher is back. Urlacher hasn’t been THAT great the last few years (and of course, he was injured all of last year). And there will still be times when I’ll think he’s overrated. But he brings a soul to the Chicago defense. He knows what he’s doing out there and in tandem with Lance Briggs, the Chicago LB group can play at a high level. His return is big.
  • Chris Harris is back at safety. The Bears lost Harris to Carolina a few years ago but have decided to bring him back – mostly because the guy is a quality safety. The secondary is a bit suspect overall, but bringing Harris back was smart and he will help this team.
  • Unfortunately for the rest of the NFC North, I think Mike Martz will settle in well. For the last few years, there has been some controversy in Chicago over who calls the defensive plays. Most recently, Lovie Smith himself has done this. But whenever a head coach is so involved in one aspect of the game like Lovie is with the defense, it necessarily has to detract from his overall ability to contribute to the other aspect of the game (in this case, the offense). To get around this, some teams just have their head coaches be head coaches and leave offensive/defensive playcalling to the respective coordinators. Other teams (like the Packers and Mike McCarthy) decide to hire a strong personality (often a former head coach) who can just handle that whole other aspect of the game (like Capers does with the Pack’s defense). Mike Martz will handle the offense and now Lovie can just focus on the defense. This will work well in Chicago. Also, remember, these two have coached together (with success) earlier in the decade for the Rams.
  • The Martz offensive system will also work well because Martz has some quality personnel to carry out his elaborate offensive game plans. I know many who will disagree with this, but I think what Jay Cutler actually needs is a coach with a huge ego who can run interference with Cutler getting carried away with himself. Think Holmgren/Favre. I hate to say this, but with two very good RBs, some fast and quick WRs and a couple quality TEs, and a creative offensive system, this offense could take off this year.
  • Matt Forte will be back. Last year, Forte dealt with some nagging injuries and a porous O-Line. While the line does remain a big question mark for this team, Forte was so dangerous his rookie year it’s hard to imagine that he’d repeat his performance from last year and not the performance from his rookie year now that he’s healthy again. He’s a really good player.
  • Chester Taylor will be there in case Forte isn’t that good – or, as a nice complement to Forte if he is good. Taylor is a very good RB – MN was unwise to let him slip away this past offseason and especially unwise to let him go to a division rival. Taylor seems to me to be a scary fit for a Mike Martz style offense.
  • WR Devin Aromashodu is good. This guy came out of nowhere last year and dominated in his last 4 games. (4 TDs, 280 or so yards receiving). Cutler likes throwing to him. He will be a big key to this offense because if he can stretch the field and make big plays, it will open things up for quick passes underneath to Hester and Johnny Knox. If these WRs get things rolling, Chicago could be really difficult to stop.
  • Chicago has to be good or everyone gets fired. There is a lot of pressure right now on this Bears team. If they suck this year, everyone (including the GM) will get canned. There won’t be give-up at least from the coaching staff. Couple this with the fact that the Bears are not expected to be that good and it makes for a team that will have plenty of incentive to play well (I believe Lovie is well-liked by the players) and a team that doesn’t have the weight of expectations outside the locker room.

Will Favre retirement help the Vikings?

August 3, 2010

Now, hear me out. Last year, after Favre signed with the Vikings, I took the unpopular position in this post that Favre would make the team really good. Just the way he was able to ride in at the last moment to essentially “rescue” a team many thought had stalled made for a very good set up – from a psychological perspective. He and the team were in a great frame of mind heading into the season – on an emotional honeymoon if you will, even if you won’t, they were on an emotional honeymoon. I was immediately convinced he would make the team very good (or at least as good as a Viking team could be…falling just short of championship caliber). In fact, in the above post from last August I wrote: “The Vikes will be very good (with Favre)…now that Favre has signed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see MN make it to the playoffs, maybe even win a game at home, and then get blown out when Favre folds under pressure.” That’s sort of what happened anyway (though the Saints did not blow them out).

But fast forward to this year and I think things have been set up very differently heading into the season. Before this apparent retirement announcement came, I had the Vikings going 7-9 this year. Seriously. The Packers will be good and the Bears will be very good too – surprising a lot of folks. The Lions won’t be bad. (Official predictions coming out in the coming weeks.) But I was sure the Vikings would struggle – just like I was sure they’d be good last year. Here’s why. First of all, lots of people have been expecting Favre to come back. They were expecting him to lead the team to another really good season. There hasn’t been quite the feeling compared to years past that he would opt for retirement – many have felt all along he’d be back in Minnesota at the end of August. Had Favre opted to come back, he would have been facing far more pressure this year than last year because the team played so well last year – and he played as well as he’s played in years. There would have been higher expectations for his performance and for the team in general and Favre has struggled with the weight of expectations in recent years. Throw in there a balky ankle and I can see why the prospect of heading up to Minnesota for another grueling season may not look as good right now as it did last year. Of course, some might argue that he’s making noise about possibly retiring now in an effort to diminish expectations for the team/him so that he can sail back in at the last minute and lead the team in 2010. Who knows?

(I have to admit, there is one other rather big reason I had the Vikes at 7-9 this year, even with Favre – the loss of Chester Taylor. While Toby Gerhart may not be bad, the loss of Taylor will quietly eat at this team all year. Whenever you can hand off or throw to a savvy veteran back-up and not lose much in terms of yards-per-carry and even gain something w/re to receiving skills, you’ve got a high quality back-up. Taylor also managed to pick-up blitzes fairly effectively for Favre last year (except against New Orleans). Taylor is a guy who probably could have been a starter on many teams over the last few years. I’m telling you, we’ll feel the Chester Taylor effect this year when playing against the Bears and the Vikes will feel his absence.)

Again, while nobody is positive re how this will eventually play out, one thing I do know is that if Favre does not play for the Vikings this year, the team will very suddenly feel far less pressure because expectations will drop. I’ve already heard talk show people adjusting their season predictions for the Vikes negatively. I disagree because I already had them playing somewhat poorly with Favre. Less pressure will help this team this year and if Favre truly does not play, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikes end up .500 or a game better.

But they won’t win the NFC North with or without Favre.

Detroit’s 2 TE sets could be quality

July 2, 2010

This may be a minor thing but it’s something that could end up being a small factor in a few Detroit Lions games this year: Detroit could have a fairly mean 2 TE set with Brandon Pettigrew (almost recovered from injury) and offseason acquisition TE Tony Scheffler. Scheffler is a good player. A few years ago, he was a great option for Jay Cutler in Denver when Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal were covered. Similarly in Detroit, Scheffler may find some good space to get open in the middle and sit in zones especially, using his size to block out some space. Calvin Johnson will be the primary focus of most pass defenses and that automatically opens up at least a bit of space for Scheffler/Pettigrew. Also, Pettigrew himself was starting to look pretty good last year before his injury.

Now, I still think the Detroit D will struggle. Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams and Suh may all add some teeth to the D-Line, and Louis Delmas is a very good safety, but it won’t be enough and the D will likely continue to struggle.

If the Vikes get Otogwe…

June 2, 2010

…the Pack could be in trouble. There are rumors that the Vikings are one of the teams pursuing Rams’ safety OJ Otogwe (who just became an unrestricted free agent). For the last few years (sort of last year excepted), I have been a big fan of Otogwe. The guy can flat out play. I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Packers pursued him here a bit, though my guess is that the salary he’ll command would cause the Pack to discontinue their pursuit quickly. But I would be somewhat concerned if the Vikings (or Bears) picked him up. The Vikes’ pass defense is mediocre with only Antoine Winfield really scaring opposing QBs. Adding a presence like Otogwe would make the Vikes D significantly better (assuming Otogwe has fully recovered from the injuries he suffered last year).


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