We're Black and Blue All Over:
Monday, I joined the chorus of those who say the Minnesota Vikings must find a way to utilize the unique skill set of backup quarterback Joe Webb. The tricky question, of course, is how.
As Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune writes, there are no easy answers. The Vikings have a "Blazer" package for Webb that is similar to the Wildcat, but it's difficult to use that more than a few times a game. Spot use as a receiver, or even a kick returner, isn't effective unless Webb has time to practice and refine those skills. Writes Scoggins: "Webb is an enigma because his skill set doesn't fit into one box."
For this to work, the Vikings are probably going to have to design a package that has never been run before in the NFL. Brad Smith has made a career out of similar circumstances over the past six years with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. It can be done.
I know it's easy to throw out a mandate without offering specific suggestions, but that's why Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave make the big bucks. It's on them to figure it out.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Vikings running back Toby Gerhart gained 51 of his 90 yards after first contact Sunday, according to film study from Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
The Vikings need to sell 3,500 tickets this week to avoid a local television blackout of their game against the New Orleans Saints, according to Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The Green Bay Packers could get guard Josh Sitton (knee) back to practice this week and have not lost hope for left tackle Chad Clifton, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Packers are preparing for a few weeks without receiver Greg Jennings, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Eric Baranczyk and Cliff Christl for the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "Jennings' value can't be measured simply with statistics. More than any other receiver, he makes it easier for the Packers to run the ball and throw short over the middle. He's why defenses don't spy [Aaron] Rodgers. He's why Jordy Nelson draws one-on-one coverage down the sidelines."
The Detroit Lions didn't force the ball to receiver Calvin Johnson against the Vikings, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
The Lions' makeshift secondary got the job done against the Vikings, writes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "It's pretty simple for the Lions. Beat Oakland this weekend. Beat San Diego at home on Christmas Eve. That should guarantee the Lions a playoff spot. ..."
The Chicago Bears tried Monday to take the heat off tailback Marion Barber, according to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Barber's mistakes overshadowed a strong day running the ball, notes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
The Bears moved to a Cover 2 defense at the end of their loss to the Broncos, but that made sense, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.