We're Black and Blue All Over:
We spent Sunday evening discussing the NFC North's new world order and the craziest trick play no one saw. That leaves plenty of fodder for the coming days, and we'll start with what the Minnesota Vikings insist is the absence of a quarterback controversy.
After Sunday's 26-23 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions, coach Leslie Frazier said: "I don't think the quarterback position is our problem right now. No. We're not thinking about anything at the quarterback position." (Via Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.)
It's true that Donovan McNabb isn't really at the top of the list of underperforming Vikings. But does it make sense for an 0-3 team to play a 34-year-old quarterback in what will be an exceedingly difficult push for a playoff spot, all while your quarterback of the future (Christian Ponder) stands on the sideline? The quarterback might not be an acute Vikings problem at the moment, but the looming transition from McNabb to Ponder -- whenever it happens -- might be the most important event remaining for this franchise in 2011.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune is advocating change: "McNabb is not solely responsible for the Vikings' woes, but he is the only member of the organization whose demotion could prove beneficial. You can't fire a head coach or coordinator three games into their tenures, and changing left tackles has never inspired a team or changed the direction of a franchise."
Frazier just isn't ready to throw in the towel on the 2011 season, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Frazier on the decision to give the ball to backup running back Toby Gerhart on a key fourth down in the fourth quarter: "We were confident that we had a good play that would get us the first down." Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune has more.
The Chicago Bears "don't appear to know who they are or, worse, what they want to be," writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears' offensive performance Sunday was "pathetic," according to Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Michael Wilbon of ESPNChicago.com: "Last week GM Jerry Angelo said no team did more to improve its offensive line play than the Bears, which is very funny ... except Angelo appeared to be dead serious. Angelo backed that argument by pointing to the fact he brought in someone with NFL experience, but former Seahawks center Chris Spencer -- who was brought in to replace Olin Kreutz -- is starting at right guard because of Lance Louis' injury. The left tackle, J'Marcus Webb, played much of last year at right tackle. The center, Roberto Garza, is really a right guard. The right tackle, Gabe Carimi, is a rookie. This is not an upgrade from last season, which is what the Bears needed to stay in the hunt with the likes of the Patriots and Packers."
The Bears' running game has taken "a major step back," tailback Matt Forte said, via Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Quarterback Jay Cutler on Forte's lack of touches, via Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: "We've just got to find ways to get him the ball, get him rushes, get him touches, get him going because he's an explosive, explosive player. I feel bad for him right now. He wants the ball. He wants to help out, and we're not giving him a lot of opportunities."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz's postgame fist pump will go down "like the iconic fist pump the late Payne Stewart made after winning the U.S. Open golf tournament in 1999," writes Mike O'Hara for the Detroit News.
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: Sometimes you stamp a mark that lasts for a while, and this was one of those biggies."
Lions left tackle Jeff Backus, via Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "Big-picture-wise, it feels great. But we've gotta play better. I've gotta play better. Offensive line's gotta play better. It's great to be 3-0, but we have a lot of stuff to clean up."
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew stepped up nicely Sunday for the Lions, according to Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on the three-touchdown game of Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley: "Many around the NFL knew the Green Bay Packers had a budding star in their fourth-year tight end. Everyone knows now."
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The Packers finally played defense worthy of a champion."
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the victory over the Bears, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "I think there's a feeling of, 'We could have played a little bit better.' It's fun to be 3-0, it's exciting coming to work with these guys. And we've got, I think, our best football is still in front of us."