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With the Bears on the bye week, we discuss some of the other news and happenings around the league and the division.
With this being the Bears' bye week, and since I don't think Lester has the monopoly on having NFL related thoughts, I thought it'd be a good time to give some of my own thoughts and musings that are too short to really make a full article about.
1) The Bears officially offered their condolences to the family of Chris Pettry, the Bears fan who was killed in Jacksonville last weekend. Kudos to the Bears for mentioning it, as well as for some of the players for helping her out. Kellen Davis is helping to put together a fund-raiser for them, auctioning off signed memorabilia from the team.
2) I stand by what I said about Mike Tice's continued improvement being a major key in the Bears' post bye season, but that doesn't take away from the continued improvement in execution that also has to happen. But unlike Rick Telander, I'm not going to ask Cutler if he intentionally throws an interception to settle down. I'm sure Telander just misworded what he wanted to ask, but damn, I think that might be the single stupidest question ever asked of a professional athlete aside from Matt Spiegal asking Marian Hossa "Do you work out?".
3) Watching Chris Johnson continue to be ineffective on Thursday has me thinking that the "next best thing" in NFL rushing is hitting his end. A player can only be the lone method of offense on his team for so long before he falls flat - and apart from his 2009 All-Pro, 2006-yard season, Johnson hasn't been this spectacular running back that everyone expects him to be. Good running back, yes, certainly good enough for three All-Pro nominations with his last in 2010 with 1364 rushing yards, but a 4.3 yards-per-attempt - and this year, a miserable 3.3. Johnson's good, but I think his 358-carry 2009 and 316-carry 2010 are catching up with him, not to mention a worse offensive line. Kind of hard to believe Matt Forte and Chris Johnson are the same age.
4) I don't think Packers fans expected another 15-1 season. I don't think they'd have predicted losses to the Seahawks and Colts, though.
5) That being said, did anybody see the Colts taking games from both the Vikings and Packers? I doubt the Colts are a wild-card team, though it's not out of the realm of possibility, but they aren't dislikable to watch. And looking at the schedule, I can see the Browns, Titans twice, Jaguars, and maybe Buffalo as wins - that's a 7-9 Colts team. Sneak another pair in there - Dolphins and either the Chiefs or Lions - and that's a 9-7 team.
6) Thursday Night Football is one of two things - an abomination of football, or a gimmick to placate the masses with more nights of football with horribly-prepared teams, a high likelihood of sloppy offensive football, and things like a garbage Tennessee Titans team beating a Steelers team in what should have been a Steelers' rout. Hint, that's not mutually exclusive. I really like the bye-week TNF idea - play it coming off your bye week, ten days to prepare and another ten to recover. That's if they continue to insist on this 14 weeks of TNF. Also, the sooner Cee-Lo Green is excised from my football-watching life, the better. Save Blitzkrieg Bop!
7) Spongie forwarded this to me for later, but I had to share it with you guys sooner or later - apparently the Packers aren't immune from scrutiny. And yes, that includes League Golden Boy Mk II, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers blamed part of the team's struggles on, yes, the rookies on the scout team for not providing the correct tempo and looks for the offense. That was shouted down by three coaches and two rookies. Rodgers said there needs to be a level of professionalism from both the veterans and rookies.
Quick note, Rodgers - I don't think the "blame myself, but throw everybody else on the team under the bus too" strategy is good professionalism. But what do I know, I root for the team with Jay Cutler at quarterback, what does he know about leadership, being a pouty arrogant doitchebank jerkface who ignores offensive coordinators and shoves linemen. And also sticks up for teammates! What a jerk anti-leader.
8) So I've heard both that the Vikings aren't for real and that they are. Personally, 4-1 right now makes them a dangerous team, especially over a win over the Niners - though they've also beaten the Jaguars and Titans, one team the Bears destroyed in the second half and another the Bears will pick up after the Lions but that probably isn't much of a worry, with the second half the Bears have lined up. Like the Bears, the Vikings have questions about just how good of a team they really are. Beating the Niners tells me they have the capability to play well against many teams. They have a tough second half, but .500 isn't out of the question, and if they can pick up a win or two against Green Bay or even Houston, they could be in the wild card fight. It depends on if this Green Bay fall is legit or just a rough patch.