We're Black and Blue All Over:
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune offers an obvious but seemingly ignored suggestion to relieve the Chicago Bears' pass protection issues: Take a page from the Mike Shanahan offense they will face this weekend and get quarterback Jay Cutler out of the pocket.
Shanahan was the Denver Broncos' general manager and coach when Cutler was drafted in 2006. In 2008, as Pompei points out, Cutler had the lowest sack-per-attempt ratio in the NFL. Shanhan's offense routinely calls for quarterbacks to roll away from the traditional pocket area, but this year Cutler has done so less than a half-dozen times.
Pompei: "The point is this: The Bears know they have pass protection issues. They need to help their offensive line, as well as their quarterback. Moving the pocket is a time-tested way of making the line's job easier. Changing the launch point creates indecision in the minds of pass rushers. They can't charge up field quite so aggressively if they aren't sure where their target is. And it also gives pause to blitz-crazed defensive coordinators. What's more, moving the pocket and calling for bootlegs plays into Cutler's strengths. It would help the Bears attack more efficiently, as well as prevent them from being attacked so relentlessly."
You can expect to see more of the same from Shanahan's Washington Redskins at Soldier Field. Would Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz consider a similar move?
Continuing around the NFC North:
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
Bears special teams coach Dave Toub isn't blaming linebacker Rod Wilson for a holding penalty that wiped out Danieal Manning's 89-yard kickoff return last weekend, writes Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Injured Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Barnett, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "You can bet your money next year that I will be a beast. I guarantee you that. Put it in the bank."
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines the Packers' meager pass rush against the Minnesota Vikings last season.
Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on rookie Bryan Bulaga's stint at right tackle: "In the two games [starter Mark] Tauscher has missed, there have been good times and some not-so-good ones."
The Minnesota Vikings' offense has struggled early in games, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on his total of one sack this season, via Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune: "I think people are kind of shocked. It's the first time in my career that it's been five games and I've only had one sack. But you look at last week, we should have had four or five sacks. Tony [Romo] elected to throw the ball and we got [two interceptions] instead."
Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "With due respect to Week 3 opponent Detroit, the Vikings' division race begins Sunday in Green Bay. Everything begins at Lambeau Field, which can catapult or cripple visitors looking for a spark."
The Detroit Lions practiced Wednesday and Thursday heading into their bye weekend but held out 19 players from Thursday's practice, notes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News.
The Lions will determine new linebacker Bobby Carpenter's position based on the health of middle linebacker DeAndre Levy, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.