A quick look around the NFC North while thinking the 49ers lost a game, but found a quarterback in last night's game in San Francisco ...
IN GREEN BAY:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes a look at the state of the Packers' running game in this article. It appears that if you're looking for new chants inside Lambeau, "Crawl, Brandon, Crawl!" might be a good one.
In Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and Dimitri Nance, the Packers have three similar players who will get you 2 1/2 to 3 yards when you need 3 yards. In other words, there's no game-breaker like Ryan Grant, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn ankle ligament. Of course, it's entirely possible the Packers' passing game will start clicking at a level that won't need much of a complementary running game this season anyway.
The Packers are one of 11 NFL teams without a run of 20 yards or more this season. Their longest is 18.
And for those who are waiting for GM Ted Thompson to swing a trade for Marshawn Lynch, one question: Have you been paying attention the past five years? Thompson probably is the most conservative, patient GM in the league.
This article in the Detroit News illustrates how quickly coaches need to scrap a game plan they've been working on all week and go with something else.
Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's original plan against the Eagles on Sunday was to use a three-receiver set and feed former Viking Nate Burleson with so many passes that the Eagles would loosen their bracket coverage on superstar receiver Calvin Johnson. But then Burleson rolled his ankle on the first play and was done.
"That was extremely tough," Burleson said Monday. "I caught a ton of balls during the week and Scott had a great game plan ... So me sitting on the sidelines was not only tough on me individually, because I knew I was going to get a lot of balls thrown my way, but it was also tough seeing the guys trying to pick up the pieces."
The Lions still ended up with 444 yards passing, but 361 of them had to go to backs and tight ends. Johnson ended up with just four catches, three coming on the final drive. Johnson has just eight catches in two games.
Rookie back Jahvid Best was targeted a team-high 14 times and caught nine passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew caught seven passes for 108 yards. And, of course, the Lions lost. But they did put a scare into the 0-2 Vikings by putting up 32 points in a 35-32 loss.
The Tribune's Dan Pompei comes up with a great stat for Bears' QB Jay Cutler in this story. Going back to last season, Cutler has had four consecutive games with a passer rating above 100. He's the first Bears quarterback to do that since a dude named Rudy Bukich did it in 1964. That says all you need to know about Bears' QBs the past 46 years.
For all the making fun of Cutler that we do, it's time to acknowledge the pouty little boy is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league. In his last four games, he has 13 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 118.1 passer rating. I haven't watched the Bears-Cowboys game yet, but Cutler has been universally praised for his poise under pressure, pinpoint passing and flawless decision-making in the upset in Dallas. His passer rating was 136.7.
AND IN MINNESOTA:
Bernard Berrian gave one of those interviews yesterday in which it's impossible not to read between the lines. Asked if too much blame is being placed on him from outside the organization, he said "definitely." Asked if the same held true inside the team, he said, "No. From position coaches? No."
He didn't elaborate, but it sounds like maybe (and this is just a guess) Brad Childress said something to him that he didn't like. If that's the case, I'd have to back Childress for expecting more from a talented player like Berrian.
(P.S.: Eight NFL teams are 2-0. Only two of them -- Green Bay and New Orleans -- made the playoffs last year. In today's kill-a-tree edition, copy editors updated the Saints as a 2-0 team, but didn't add them to the teams that made the playoffs last year. The Saints not only made the playoffs, I think they went pretty far, too).
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