We're Black and Blue All Over:
Remember how some of our preseason discussion centered around whether the Chicago Bears would finish above or below the Detroit Lions in the NFC North this season? It sounds like Bears general manager Jerry Angelo heard more than a few of the summer catcalls. But on Wednesday, he refused to gloat during a conference call with Chicago-area reporters.
Angelo, via Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com: "There's a perception coming out of the last few years, and we weren't getting it done. I know we lost some credibility, and I'm sure people looked at us going into the year that we were going to be a hopeless team and it was only a matter of time when the ship would sink. We never felt that way. We knew what we had to do. We were very confident that we could get it done. We had to have some things come together for us ... but we felt very strongly about our plan, about our football team."
Isaacson writes that "good things resulted this season largely out of desperation," but regardless, the Bears proverbially proved the skeptics wrong. Thankfully for some of us, Angelo isn't piling on.
Continuing around the NFC North:
The door to the Bears giving coach Lovie Smith a contract extension is open "a crack," writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "If the Green Bay Packers need a road map as they embark on their NFL playoff journey as a No. 6 seeded-team, they would be wise to follow the path of the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers."
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "Aaron Rodgers started channeling his inner Jackie Moon on Monday and has kept it up all week. All he's been missing is the '70s Afro." You'll have to follow the link to find out what that means.
Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune on the possibility of the Vikings hiring Josh McDaniels as their offensive coordinator: "A switch to McDaniels would be a signal that [coach Leslie] Frazier is moving away from the West Coast offense employed by former coach Brad Childress and [offensive coordinator Darrell] Bevell. It also could indicate the Vikings intend to bring in a young quarterback whom McDaniels could help groom."
Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press: "Lions general manager Martin Mayhew gave his assurance this week that not only is he on good terms with Calvin Johnson, but he actually empathized with the frustration his star receiver voiced last month."