Top of the morning to you! The playoffs are almost here, and we couldn’t be more excited, especially since two Black and Blue Division teams will be duking it out in the first round. This is your NFC North News for Friday, January 4th, 2013, although it will be an abridged edition, because I am busy drawing up the bracket for our first annual Water Cooler Sports Postseason Pick’em Contest.
Erin Cahill, who played the Pink Power Ranger in Power Rangers Time Force, turns 33 today.
Still, there’s a beautiful little news story I just have to share with you this morning. If you’re feeling the need to renew your wonder in life, check out this piece from KFVS Channel 12 out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, about an unborn baby who grabbed the doctor’s finger as he was preparing to deliver her. The pictures that captured the moment are simply lovely. I am sure it was a moment that will stick in the memories of everyone concerned for as long as they live.
Some other individuals who experienced the wonder of birth on this date include country singer Patty Loveless (56), Detroit Lions wide receiver Mike Williams (29), country singer Deanna Carter (47), and the Pink Power Ranger herself, Erin Cahill (33).
NFC North News
Did I shave my links for this?
One of the tasks every front office and head coach must complete after the season draws to a close is to evaluate that year’s roster: what went right, what went wrong, and what can be done to improve it in the coming year. Part of this task is evaluating the rookie draft class, which can sometimes be a painful exercise.
The other day, Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew sat down with beat reporter Tim Twentyman to do just that. To put it briefly, he was a little rueful, expressing the wish that Detroit could have harnessed a little more from their 2012 draft class, which was decimated by injury and didn’t contribute much this season. Even left tackle Riley Reiff, who played in all 16 games, never was able to unseat veteran starters Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus.
Mayhew has already come out and stated that there will be significant changes to the Lions roster come 2013, so it will be interesting to see how many of the 2012 draftees he chooses to retain.
Rookie offensive tackle Riley Reiff played in 16 games for the Detroit Lions but was never able to unseat the incumbents for a starting role.
We speculated a couple of days ago that the Chicago Bears might want to bring in an offensive-minded head coach to harness the most out of quarterback Jay Cutler, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and running back Matt Forte. It appears that they are intent on doing just that.
The Bears have received permission to interview Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, the latest in a string of offensive coaches they have brought in. Other candidates who have visited or are slated to interview soon include Tom Clements (Green Bay Packers), Mike McCoy (Denver Broncos), Mike Sullivan (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and Pete Carmichael (New Orleans Saints).
Chairman George McCluskey stated recently that money would be no object for general manager Phil Emery, so it seems a little peculiar that the organization has not looked at any available candidates with head coaching experience. The Bears have a solid nucleus of talent on both sides of the ball and could be set up to win now if that core of players is properly utilized and a few key acquisitions are added. Apparently, Chicago wants to avoid has-beens and explore a fresh outlook.
Against the Packers in Week 17, Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier could have played for the record. He could have called a couple extra runs to ensure that running back Adrian Peterson got those nine precious yards to break Eric Dickerson’s all-time single-season rushing yardage mark.
Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder is one of the key players who must step up if the Minnesota Vikings are to defeat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
But he didn’t. He played to put the Vikings in the playoffs, and it paid off. Minnesota kicked a 29-yard field goal by rookie phenom Blair Walsh to defeat the Packers and ensure a postseason berth.
Now that they’re in, Greg Price of the International Business Times says that there are four players who must be on top of their game if the Vikings hope to advance. Not surprisingly, they are Peterson himself; veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, who is struggling with a hand injury but is determined to play; defensive end Jared Allen; and young quarterback Christian Ponder.
If the Packers can control those four players, they have an excellent chance of winning the game. If any one of them has a big game, Green Bay could be staring at yet another home playoff loss.
Green Bay Packers
If you’re attending the playoff game at Lambeau Field this Saturday, you’d better be on your best behavior. The Green Bay Packers are ramping up security for the game and stringently enforcing the rules. Alcohol sales will be cut off at halftime to reduce the number of intoxicated fans in the stands. Obscene language and “inappropriate behaviors” will not be tolerated, according to Doug Collins, Director of Corporate Security. “We’re just going to escort [the offenders] out.”
In one sense I think it’s incredibly silly. Since by Collins’ own admission, 99 percent of fans obey the rules, what is the point of cutting off alcohol? Simply focus security’s efforts on the people who are obviously misbehaving. On the other hand, since the prices they charge for beer amount to legalized highway robbery anyway, should anyone really grieve that the stadium isn’t tearing another hole in their wallet?
There’s nothing stopping fans from getting well soused in the parking lot prior to the game and recharging their buzz at halftime if necessary.
Honestly, though, if you need to alter your brain with an intoxicating substance to enjoy a game of this magnitude, I question how passionate you are about the sport to begin with.
Surely sights like this are more offensive than a few careless obscenities spoken by fans in moments of excitement.