Let's go Around the NFC North, where only the Bears have to travel (to Dallas) this weekend ...
The Detroit News points out that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and theLions' offense had better pick it up in the running game. The Lions had only 20 yards rushing on 21 carries against the Bears on Sunday. Rookie Jahvid Best had only 20 yards on 14 carries, but did become the first Lions player to score two touchdowns in his debut. Billy Sims was the other. Said Linehan: "We didn't have a successful running game, but there were a couple of things I liked in the first half. We were starting to hit our stride, but there were things we got in the first half that we were never able to get going again in the second half."
The Lions play the Eagles at Ford Field on Sunday. Detroit reporters asked Eagles coach Andy Reid on a conference call about the NFL's decision to put microphones on centers so that TV can hear the quarterback's signals. The centers in 10 games were mic'd on Sunday, including the Eagles.
Some believe it's an advantage for future opponents because they'll be able to match up the center's line calls off game film. Reid said it wouldn't be a problem because the Eagles would just change their calls. But that doesn't mean Andy is a fan of the idea.
"I'm not a big microphone guy, but that's just me being me," he said. "I understand why it's done, so I go with it."
DT Tommie Harris, finally healthy (for now), took one right between the eyes from the NFL Network's Warren Sapp. Speaking on WSCR-AM 670, Sapp unloaded on Harris, calling him a "blind dog in a meat house" because he lacks awareness and a willingness to work in concert with new defensive end Julius Peppers.
Sapp is the authority on how to play the under tackle position in the Tampa 2 scheme that the Bears use. In 13 seasons, he had 96 1/2 sacks. Harris has often been compared to Sapp. But not by Sapp.
"There has only been one of me," Sapp said. "[Harris] plays the game with no awareness."
Harris defended himself, saying the attack was premature since Harris and Peppers have played only one regular season game together. That's a great point, Warren.
"I just got with Peppers," Harris told the Tribune. "He had Simeon Rice for like seven years (actually three). Me and Peppers are just learning how to dance with one another."
Harris said the two are friends.
"I was surprised," Harris said. "Thanks for saying that on air. But you can call me any time, Warren."
IN GREEN BAY:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reminds us that Brandon Jackson was the Packers' No. 1 running back until suffering a shin injury during the third game in 2007. Jackson was a second round draft pick. He started three games, got hurt and then spent the next 38 games behind Ryan Grant. Now that Grant is out for the season with a torn ankle ligament, Jackson is the man once again.
Packer Nation doesn't seem impressed. Viking Nation scoffs.
Jackson just seems too undersized to be a difference-maker at running back. But he could surprise us. Fullback John Kuhn, a 250-pounder with pretty quick feet, will be the backup and see considerable playing time. Dimitri Nance, the rookie plucked from the Falcons' practice squad, won't play much as he learns the offense and proves he can protect the franchise (Aaron Rodgers).
It will be interesting to see how this affects the Packers. At times, this offense looks as though it doesn't even need a running back. But Grant quietly put together back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons. That's tough to overlook.
I know the Vikings' offense is rusty, confused, undermanned and still in a state of flux. It's probably not ready to jump into no-huddle mode for Sunday's game against the Dolphins.
However, Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell should at least be thinking of kicking it into a faster pace after watching the Bills-Dolphins game.
The Bills went to a no-huddle attack with great success in the fourth quarter Sunday. Before they went no-huddle, the Bills had 77 total yards. On the drive in which they went no-huddle, they went 80 yards and scored a touchdown.
I asked Dolphins coach Tony Sparano about it yesterday. He said:
"Buffalo was in the two-minute mode at the time. I think from Buffalo's end, they did a good job making a couple of plays in that mode. Obviously, when they're in a fast offense like that, it's harder to get your calls in when you're on the road like that. We obviously have to do a better job considering the environment we're going into is very much like Buffalo in that the fans are loud. In Buffalo, they're on top of you, and of course in Minnesota, the stadium is loud and the fans are loud."
Ask yourself when was the only time the Vikings' passing game looked good against New Orleans? Answer: Right before the half when Favre was running the two-minute drill. He capped it with the TD pass to Shiancoe.