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Tag:Minnesota Vikings
Posted on: October 25, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Vikings release WR Bernard Berrian

Berrian is looking for work after catching just nine passes this season. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's been a tough month for Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian. He got into a Twitter spat with Minnesota state legislator and wounded war vet John Kreisel (and that led to this), he was inactive for two of the team's next three games, and Tuesday, he was released.

Berrian met with head coach Leslie Frazier Monday to discuss his future, and said that he wanted to remain with the organization, pointing to the pay cut he took this offseason as proof. That said, he admitted to having "no idea" about the team's plans for him.  Also on Monday, Frazier was noncommittal when asked about Berrian's role in Minnesota going forward.

“We’ll make a decision about how we want to handle things going forward,” Frazier said, according to the Associated Press, while declining to specify the reasons Berrian was benched against Green Bay Sunday. He added: “We’re going to have a little meeting of the minds, and see where we are.”

Where we are, it turns out, is without Berrian on the roster.

The Star-Tribune's Dan Wiederer writes that "The move brings to a close Berrian’s wildly inconsistent tenure with the Vikings and allows Frazier to move forward without a player that had caused him too many headaches this season."

Berrian should've known his days were numbered when on Monday backup quarterback Donovan McNabb called Frazier's decision to bench the wideout "kind of a shock," before calling him a "great" player and adding, “[Berrian's] been through it. He’ll bounce back for this week and be ready to go.”

We guess McNabb meant "ready to go pack up his locker and get on with the rest of his life."

For the season, Berrian has seven catches for 91 yards and no touchdowns.  The AP reports that, as a vested veteran, the Vikings must pay him all of his $1.9 million salary unless another team claims him.

Rookie wide receiver Stephen Burton was elevated from the practice squad to take Berrian's place on the active roster. Also, defensive end Cedric McKinley was released from the practice squad, leaving two open spots there.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 4:29 pm
 

Vikings CB Chris Cook still in jail

CookPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Vikings defensive back Chris Cook has been in jail since early Saturday morning after his arrest on a domestic assault charges. He missed the Vikings game Sunday vs. the Packers, and after a hearing scheduled for Monday was canceled, he’s still sitting behind bars.

A spokeswoman for the city of Eden Prairie told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that police needed more time to investigate the alleged incident and have not forwarded the case to the county attorney. Unless an extension is given, police will have to charge Cook or they must release him by Tuesday.

You’ll recall that Cook was arrested in March and charged with brandishing a firearm, and though the charge was later dropped, he said at the time, “It definitely will make me smarter about how I react to other people and what they say to me or what they try and do to me."

More from the Star-Tribune:
Cook, 24, has been in jail in downtown Minneapolis since about 4 a.m. Saturday. He was arrested at 2:10 a.m. at his home in the 6400 block of Regency Lane in Eden Prairie after a neighbor reported yelling and screaming from across the street, according to police.

County records show he was booked on probable cause for domestic assault/strangulation, a felony-level offense, and fifth-degree domestic assault, a misdemeanor.

The victim's identity and condition have yet to be released.

Obviously, his absence doesn’t help the cause of the Vikings, who are forced to sit and wait.

"As we get more clarity as to what's going on with Chris, we'll act accordingly," head coach Leslie Frazier said Monday. "But we'll try to get clarity hopefully in the next few days and go from there. I don't think any of us in this organization are pleased when one of our players is arrested for anything. And the fact that one of our players is in jail is a disappointment."

H/T to the Star-Tribune for Cook’s mug shot.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 10:50 am
 

Robison apologizes to Lang for kick to groin

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Since I’ve assumed all of you have finished your lunch today -- apologies to those in the Pacific Time Zone -- let’s go back to the videotape (thanks to the magic of Sorting the Sunday Pile) to see what transpired Sunday between Vikings defensive end Brian Robison and Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang.

In effect, let’s watch Robison kick Lang in the nuts again.


OK, now that we’ve done that, here’s the aftermath of that kick to the groin, which weirdly did not draw a penalty (though likely will draw a fine).

Lang awesomely tweeted Sunday night, “Glad to report my genitalia are in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery!” And on Monday, Robison apologized on Twitter: “My apologies to @tjlang70 , my team, my fans and the @nfl . I am not a dirty player and did not maliciously aim for the groin, just happened to be where it landed.”

Responded Lang: “All joking aside, I think @Brian_Robison is a heck of a player.. Just caught up in the emotion of the game.. apology accepted.”

Wonderful. But now I have a question: which is worse: Robison’s foot to the groin or LeSean McCoy’s punch to the stomach?

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Is Berrian close to being released?

BerrianPosted by Josh Katzowitz

When Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian was surprisingly deactivated in Week 5 two weeks ago, you still could make some sense of it.

After all, he had been involved in a Twitter war with a Minnesota state legislator/war veteran who had no legs, and when the unknowing Berrian called on his opponent to sit down and shut up – not to mention Berrian missing a couple team meetings – a seat on the bench probably was the right move.

But what do we make of coach Leslie Frazier’s decision to deactivate Berrian once again Sunday vs. the Packers? It probably means Berrian isn’t long for Minnesota’s roster, especially since Frazier didn’t have a great explanation when asked why Berrian didn’t play.

“Just a decision that I made about whether or not he was going to be active or not active,” Frazier said via VikingUpdate.com. “Just a decision that I made that we’ll probably get into later on in the week, but just a decision that I made.”

What makes the decision even stranger is that Berrian was coming off a four-catch, 54-yard performance vs. the Bears, his best stat line since Week 9 of the 2010 season.

When asked about Berrian’s future, Frazier continued to speak in vague generalities.

“It’s something we’ll talk about this week and we’ll talk about it more this week,” he said.

As the website pointed out, Berrian took a paycut of $2 million before this season, but with his base salary slated to rise to $6.9 million next year (he makes $1.9 million this season), there’s little chance he’d be back next year without restructuring his contract again. But with his production and disciplinary problems, I wouldn’t count on it.

And considering Frazier won’t get specific, it seems likely Berrian is very close to having to turn in his playbook.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 2:31 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 7

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 7 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. He's Just a Winner
For the second time in three weeks, we lead the Pile with a story about Tim Tebow, thanks to Denver's 18-15 win in Miami on Sunday. And for the second time in three weeks, we lead the Pile with a story that was going to involve the phrase "Tim Tebow is a bad quarterback." And for the second time in three weeks I fully expect to be thrashed in the comments for not giving Tebow enough credit because he's a "winner."

This is fair, because Tebow did win. But it's unfair because Tebow looked unlike anything resembling an NFL quarterback for the majority of the game. Ask anyone who watched the game and they'll agree with you. My colleagues Pete Prisco ("looked lost," "isn't close to being a good quarterback") and Josh Katzowitz ("a mirage," "terrible," "horrendous," "no idea what he was doing") threw down lines on Tebow that belong on the back of the straight-to-DVD cover for the latest Adam Sandler movie.

To sum up everything about this game, let's watch the two-point conversion when Denver tied the game at 15. Before you click play, though, I want you to imagine you're a Dolphins defender and you know the Broncos only need two yards.


OK, presuming you played along, that video got McFly'd, because it never happened. Since, you know, anyone with a modicum of football sense saw the quarterback draw from Tebow coming on the play and snuffed it out. Somehow, the Dolphins failed to do this.

There's plenty of blame to go around, of course. Everyone on Miami's defensive coaching staff should be embarrassed for not knowing that was coming. And everyone on the Dolphins defense should be embarrassed for not recognizing what was happening, regardless of the playcall. Tony Sparano should be embarrassed after he went for a two-point conversion at the beginning of the fourth quarter with the Dolphins up 12-0; an extra point would have rendered this entire discussion moot.

In case you don't believe me, just look at the rollercoaster that is the win probability for the Broncos over the course of Sunday's game, courtesy of AdvancedNFLStats.com:



I realize that knocking on Tebow after he led a comeback on the road (well, kind of) in the face of adversity makes me a jerk, especially when that adversity includes a) a coach who might not want him to succeed, b) no real help at the other offensive skill positions and c) lacking the appropriate skills to play quarterback in the NFL.

But you know what he does have? The best attitude in the NFL.

"It's a good stadium," a smiling Tebow said after the game. "I enjoy playing here. Sometimes you have to find a way and keep believing and keep fighting."

That's classic Tebow, even if he had no business winning the game. I like what I heard on Twitter Sunday -- that Tebow is everything his critics say he is and yet, at the same time, everything his fans say he is -- because it's true. Tebow's a mechanically flawed, imperfect quarterback for the NFL, but he's fantastic young man who works his ass off and has such an improbably high level of faith in a higher power that he's automatically a lightning rod for discussion and/or controversy.

Look, I like Tebow and I don't necessarily enjoy taking the side of the argument where I have to dog the guy. I don't, I swear. But so very much about the Broncos victory in Miami was about the Dolphins inability to operate as a successful football team, and so very much of the Broncos victory was not about Denver's ability to dominate offensively.

But pick a side -- you have to, of course! -- and call me a jerk in the comments either way. Just remember that if you're the one screaming about how he's a winner you're on the same side as Skip Bayless and and LeBron James.

2. A Hue, Tiny Mistake
On the bright side, Tebow only cost the Broncos one first-round draft pick. Carson Palmer might, depending on how Oakland finishes the season, cost the Raiders two of them. Although if Palmer plays like he did on Sunday afternoon, it's pretty unlikely, since throwing three picks in one half isn't a great formula for making it to the AFC Championship.

Palmer did just that on Sunday, helping Kansas City blowout the Raiders 28-0 in Oakland. Oh yeah, it's awkward, and we'll get to that. But real quick, let me say I'm sorry, personally, to my colleague Matt Moore (not the guy who stinks for the Dolphins; and no, that never gets old) for consistently ripping the Chiefs over the past few weeks. They've now won three-straight games and next week they're playing the Chargers to determine who'll be in first place in the AFC West. Yes, the NFL is as insane as you think.

Back to the Raiders: for the most part, Hue Jackson's done a nice job with this team so far in 2011 but he's shown an ability to botch a decision or two. And he botched a big one on Sunday, waiting until 10 minutes left in the third quarter to bring in Palmer for Kyle Boller, who was the first quarterback in Raiders history to throw three picks in the first half of a single outing.

It's not that Hue should have yanked Boller more quickly, or that Hue should have left Boller in. It's just that he went into the game with no idea of how to handle the Palmer situation and by bringing in Palmer -- who obviously wasn't ready, because otherwise he would have started, right? -- for part of the second half, he not only offered up a pile of doubt for Raiders fans to judge Palmer on, but he put his would-be franchise quarterback out there for injury.

"Uncertainty at quarterback is not what led to interceptions or anything like that," Jackson said on Sunday, instead chalking up the lack of a clear-cut decision and the uncertainty at quarterback to "some gamesmanship."

Jackson was in a bad situation, because Darren McFadden was injured and Boller looked miserable, but if you're coaching this team and you're the guy who pulled the trigger on the Palmer trade, you need to have a plan locked in and stick with it regardless of how poorly things are going.

3. Elsewhere in the AFC West ...
For such a seemingly shoddy division, the AFC West is slinging some Week 7 storylines -- we've got Tebow, the Raiders controversy and the Chiefs getting back into the race. Oh yes, and the Chargers losing a "shoulda won" game against the Jets on Sunday, falling 27-21 in New York on a day that, instead of establishing the Chargers as one of the elite teams in the AFC, exposed them as having the same flaws they've always had.

"We can sit here and think of a bunch of reasons why," Philip Rivers said after the game. "The bottom line is that we came out playing really well. We just didn't finish off the game."

The Bolts came out white-hot -- on the fourth play from scrimmage, Donald Butler stripped Dustin Keller and took a "fumble" to the house to give San Diego an early lead. The Chargers caught a break on a Nick Mangold holding call that led to a Mark Sanchez interception and turned it into an Antonio Gates touchdown.

Gates return was the early key for San Diego, who appeared to solve their red-zone woes with the future Hall of Famer in the starting lineup.

But Brian Schottenheimer and Sanchez figured out that the Chargers had a bigger problem -- they don't have anyone that can matchup man-to-man with Plaxico Burress who, just a few months removed from being in prison, caught three touchdowns in the Jets win.

There's another problem for Norv's team, too, and it's Rivers playing poorly. I'm not sure whether or not the two-minute drill they ran at the end of the game was Turner's doing or Rivers' work, but it was one of the most mangled series of plays I've seen in a long, long time.

After holding the Jets to a field goal and a six-point lead, the Chargers started their final drive with 1:29 on the clock. They then proceeded to run five plays, move the ball a whopping 25 yards and burn 1:18 off the clock, meaning that in the most dire of circumstances, one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL moved the ball a quarter of the field at a snail-like pace of 3.12 seconds per yard.

Can you imagine how hot Turner's seat would be if the Chargers had coughed up a couple of their September squeak-by victories?



4. Quite Unprobable
It's a shame that Emmitt Smith's no longer dropping knowledge bombs on television, because I'd love to hear what the Hall of Famer would say about rookie third-rounder DeMarco Murray breaking his single-game Cowboys record for rushing yards in a game after piling up 253 yards on 25 carries.

As I wrote in this space after Week 2, "the former Sooner is a highly-talented receiver out of the backfield, and has the potential to be a serious threat." That was based on what I'd seen from Murray in very limited action through the first two weeks and, clearly, it was an understatement.

The Cowboys still didn't fire on all cylinders, but it doesn't take a maximum effort to beat up on the Rams, even to the point of a 34-7 whipping. Murray won't run like that every week but, man, even if you take away his first-quarter, 91-yard touchdown run, Murray still averaged 6.75 yards per carry against St. Louis.

Having talent, though, is typical of the Cowboys. Using it to maximize their success on gameday's the bigger issue. But with Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, Miami and Arizona on the schedule over the next six weeks, it's hard not to want to double down on their chances of winning the NFC East.

5. Six Or One-Half Dozen
One of the reasons to love the Cowboys? The Redskins are in the middle of a freefall. And it's all on the Jekyll and Jekyll combo that Mike Shanahan is rolling out under center this year.

Honestly, what would it take for Shanahan to admit that he made a mistake coming into 2011 with Rex Grossman and John Beck as his starting quarterbacks? Because before the season started, it was an indefensibly ridiculous gamble, the kind that seemed just bat-poop crazy enough to work but obviously wouldn't anyway.

Yet after four weeks, the Redskins were 3-1, held sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Sure, the end of the world was nigh, but at least Shanny seemed smarter.

Now, after John Beck's performance -- 22/37 for 279 yards, a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown and a pick -- on Sunday in a 33-20 loss in Charlotte, it's really impossible to imagine that they'll be a mathematical contender for much longer.

"I think overall John played very well first time out," Shanahan said Sunday.

Beck's numbers weren't that terrible, but he didn't look particularly adept at running Washington's offense and whether or not he's the answer for the Redskins shouldn't even be a question any more: he's not.

Adding to the problems for Washington is a report that running back Tim Hightower has a torn ACL (which would obviously put his season in jeopardy) and that receiver Santana Moss will miss 3-4 weeks with a broken hand. Oh yes, and Rex Grossman has pneumonia, so he's unlikely to be available any time soon.

Like I said on the podcast before Week 7, I'll pull a reverse Rex right now and guarantee that the Redskins finish in the basement of the NFC East. That's a better bet than them winning the division at this point.

6. Everyone Off This Bandwagon!
Those first five weeks were sweet for Lions fans, and as Mike Freeman wrote from Detroit on Sunday, it's not panic time yet, but it's getting close.

That's mainly because in Detroit's 23-16 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, their flaws as a team were really on display. With Jerome Harrison out for the season and Jahvid Best potentially sidelined for the year, this team has zero running game -- Maurice Morris led the way with nine carries for 50 yards.

They can't stop the run either; Detroit ranks 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed (129.4 yards per game) and Michael Turner carved them up on Sunday, ensuring that Matthew Stafford didn't get another shot at a comeback.

Getting a look Sunday might not be the biggest concern for Stafford either, because a bad result from the MRI he's reportedly undergoing Monday could spell for doom for what appeared to be a magical season. Stafford might be fine and then the passing game isn't a concern.

But if the Lions can't run the ball and they can't stop the run, they're going to struggle to win games against teams later in the year.

And all that swagger we've been talking about? Somehow it's backfiring. Last week it was Jim Schwartz' fiery tirade towards Jim Harbaugh; this week Lions defensive players were supposedly taunting Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan after he suffered an injury.

The Lions have enough talent to keep winning, and the future is bright in Detroit. And none of the things happening to them are, in an individual sense, devastating. But them all together and it's a quick recipe for the wheels coming off.

7. And Back on This One!
I was pretty sure the Texans would cover on Sunday. Win? Maybe. But it would be close. After all, Houston's been pretty putrid on offense since Andre Johnson injured his hamstring two weeks ago, managing just 39 points in losses to the Ravens and Raiders.

Needless to say, then, I wasn't prepared for the 41-7 smackdown that Arian Foster and company laid on the Titans. Foster piled up 234 total yards and three touchdowns, Matt Schaub missed on only five passes and the Texans defense stifled the Titans, holding them to 148 total yards on Sunday.

Chris Johnson, who said afterwards that his play is "not an issue," was, um, the biggest issue, rushing for just 18 yards on 10 carries.

"It's just a situation I got to continue to say I can't do nothing but keep working hard, running hard and doing what I can do for this team," Johnson said.

The problem is that Johnson's not running hard. Ask anyone who's watched him play this year and it's pretty apparent that he's not the same guy who deserved the big contract he held out for prior to this year. He's not showing any burst through the hole, he's got happy feet at the line and he looks like a running back who might be really fast but doesn't know how to run.

That's unfortunate for the Titans, obviously, but I'm not sure it would really matter in an AFC South race that's already wrapped up for all intents and purposes. The Texans showed on Sunday that despite their flaws, their still head and shoulders above the Jaguars, Titans and Colts. They might be second only to the 49ers when it comes to odds for making the playoffs, and with two matchups against the Jaguars, one against the Browns, one more against the Titans and a trip to Indy still on the docket, nine wins seems like a shoo-in.

Which means so is the division title; everyone else in the South is just that terrible this year.

8. Recent Super Bowl Rematches
I thought it was kind of interesting that we had a pair of matchups from the last three Super Bowls this year in Week 7, as the Colts and Saints squared off on Sunday night and the Steelers and Cardinals played during the day.

I also thought it was interesting that the teams who lost those Super Bowls are terrible -- the Colts remain winless and got absolutely whooped 62-7 by New Orleans Sunday night. I'm as guilty as anyone of discussing how important Peyton Manning is to Indy's chances, and I think they'd be a .500 team with him this year.

But they'd still be bad, because the dude doesn't play defense, and he certainly isn't responsible for Drew Brees throwing five touchdowns and only four incompletions in a single game.

As for Arizona/Pittsburgh, man does that Kevin Kolb trade look awesome or what? Kolb had a 73-yard touchdown, but it's poppycock to give him too much credit, since it was basically a five-yard drag route that LaRod Stephens-Howling turned into a long score.

I used this analogy in the podcast, but it's like the Cardinals are Netflix and Kolb is Qwikster, only the parent company doesn't have the option of hitting the reset button.


9. No Offense But ...
No offense. Like scoring and points and stuff -- there wasn't much of it during the early portion of the day games. Dolphins-Broncos, Redskins-Panthers, Browns-Seahawks; all were field-goal contests for at least the first half and, in some cases, longer.

There were plenty of scores (49, according to NFL Network's Red Zone, during the "day" games) but clearly offensive output was down from previous weeks. Brees blew up and Aaron Rodgers blew up and Ben Roethlisberger blew up, but those guys were the only quarterbacks to go over 300 yards on Sunday.

By contrast, four guys went over 400 yards in Week 1 (and 14 went over 300). Nine went over 300 yards in Week 2. 11 over 300 in Week 3. 10 in Week 4. Six quarterbacks crossed 300 yards in Week 5, and just six again in Week 6.

To me, this represents the point in the year where the defense finally caught up with the high-octane offenses in the NFL.

That doesn't mean the NFL's not a passing league any more, because it certainly is. Instead, a combination of the lockout, the reduced offseason workouts, the reduced in-season contact and rules designed to protect wide receivers and quarterbacks really set defenses back for the first few weeks of the 2011 season.

Lots of dudes could still break Dan Marino's record -- Aaron Rodgers is on pace 5,421 yards, Tom Brady's on pace for 5,768 yards -- but we've said that before only to see cold weather, injuries and improved defenses slow down incredible passing numbers.

It might just be happening again right now.

10. On Another Planet
When we see great athletes succeed, sometimes it's difficult to see just how dominant they are, because the game moves so slowly and looks so easy for them. This is often called "the zone."

Aaron Rodgers isn't just hanging out in this space -- at the beginning of the 2010 playoffs, he paid cash for about 30 acres of land in the zone and he's been living there ever since.

His level of play in his first three years running the Packers offense was incredibly impressive, but what he's doing in 2011 is absolutely phenomenal and, without being crass, watching him carve up defenses with precision is like football porn.

Rodgers has a combination of skills -- a lightning quick release, rapid movement through his reads, the ability to look off defenders, quick feet, to name a few -- that make him as deadly and precise a quarterback as we've seen in the NFL in a long time.

That's not a knock on Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, because Rodgers is different. And right now he's better -- it seems like every single drive he makes a throw that knocks your socks off and seems virtually impossible.

If Rodgers keeps up his current pace, he'll become the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards, complete more than 70 percent of his passes and throw less than 10 interceptions. (Drew Brees accomplished the first two in 2009 but threw 11 picks.)

There are things that could go wrong, of course, but if you look back at 2010, Rodgers didn't even really get hot until November and holy hell did he get hot.

Just remember that when you're deciding what to watch over these next few weeks.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Olindo Mare made three-straight field goals, each five yards longer than the last (35, 40, 45) because of two-straight Panthers offensive
... Brian Robison apologized for kicking T.J Lang in the groin and said it was an accident. The GIF below disagrees. Thankfully, Lang says his groin is fine. In case you care.
... Will Indy remember Sean Payton eating a hot dog the next time they play the Saints?
... The Broncos first third-down conversion on Sunday came with 4:22 remaining. In the third quarter.
... Calvin Johnson became the first wide receiver in Lions history with 10 or more touchdowns in three seasons on Sunday. That still doesn't mean Matt Millen should have drafted all those guys.
... Big ups to Tony Gonzalez for becoming the NFL's second all-time leader in receptions.
... Mike Wallace now has six-straight games with a reception of 40 yards or longer.
... The Packers are just the fourth team in NFL history to start the season 7-0 after winning a Super Bowl.
... Cam Newton extended his own streak -- only player in NFL history with seven or more rushing and passing touchdowns through seven games.
... Newton also tied Vince Young's record for rookie rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, with seven. Something tells me he breaks it.

Worth 1,000 Words



Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"There's a lot of things,that can kill a man..a lot of ways 2 die...and some already dead,that walk besides me"

Ray LaMontagne probably couldn't have imagined the grizzly death that went down on Sunday night.

GIF O' THE WEEK
That the referee -- who quite clearly saw Brian Robison kick T.J. Lang in the man-region -- didn't throw Robison out for this is absolutely impressive. Even Roman Harper thinks this is cheap.



Hot Seat Tracker
It's totally worth noting that Todd Haley isn't on this list. Impressive move by him.
  • Jack Del Rio -- Some kid asked Rashean Mathis when JDR was getting fired. I texted my aunt in Jacksonville asking if it was one of her sons. She said it wasn't but that she was wondering the same thing.
  • Jim Caldwell -- Just because Indy's going to ride him out doesn't mean his job is safe.
  • Tony Sparano -- Adios, amigo.
  • Steve Spagnuolo -- The Rams are crushed by injuries but the bad losses are piling up. They need a good close to the season.
  • Ken Wisenhunt -- He's got the Cards practicing on their off day during their bye week. Might be feeling some pressure.
  • Norv Turner -- That two-minute drill against the Jets was a borderline fireable offense on its own.
  • Mike Shanahan -- What happens if the Redskins finish 4-12?
Chasing Andrew Luck
This is a heated race, folks. Certainly more interesting than the AFC South.

Colts (-500): Is point differential a tiebreaker? Because that would be good -- er, bad for the Colts.
Dolphins (-450): Their schedule is also quite bleak. At least their fans are happy?
Rams (-350): The NFC West schedule should keep them from landing the top pick, but it's not a guarantee.
Cardinals (-225): Wouldn't this be something after they traded for Kevin Kolb?
Jaguars/Vikings (-200): There sure are a lot of teams on this list who already invested heavily in quarterbacks.

MVP Watch
As I noted above, Rodgers is doing unholy things right now. There might be some sort of interesting, half-hearted argument at the end of the year, but if Rodgers keeps doing what he's done through seven weeks, he'll win in a landslide.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 11:40 am
 

Report: McNabb showed up late, didn't know O

Did McNabb struggle with the offense in Minnesota, too? (AP)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder makes his first start today, replacing the eminently replaceable Donovan McNabb who, in just over a year, has been benched for a retread (Rex Grossman) and now a rookie. At some point, it isn't the situation, or the offense or the other players -- it's McNabb.

Whatever the reason for the falloff, the results have been the same the last two seasons: McNabb on the sidelines wearing a baseball hat and looking like he can't believe his luck. Well, if the report from NFL Network's Michael Lombardi is any indication, this has nothing to do with good fortune and almost everything to do with preparation.

"McNabb is at a point in his career that he does not seem to want to put in the time, willing to show up late for meetings and practice, and expects to just play well," Lombardi Friday. "He failed to really grasp the offense in Minnesota (as he did in Washington), having trouble spitting the plays out quickly -- which meant the play sheet on his arm got bigger and bigger. It did not take long before McNabb's lack of commitment was seen by the older players, causing them to understand that a move had to be made."

Lombardi reiterated this again Sunday morning on NFL GameDay Morning.

"Really, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Donovan hasn't really been putting the time in to be the great player. What happened in Washington -- the lack of work habits -- has now gone into Minnesota.

"And what I was told by people in the Vikings organization was that he's the last one in the building, he's the first one gone, he's not willing to put the time in, late for meetings, late for practice. So they have basically thrown up their hands and said we need to move on because ultimately that's not what we want in a quarterback. … If you go back and talk to people in Philadelphia they'll say there were questionable work habits."

And that leads to this: why would the Redskins give up a second-round pick -- in the division -- for a guy they knew wasn't willing to work? And worse: why would the Vikings do the same thing an offseason later?

"The reality of the situation," Lombardi said Sunday, "is that Minnesota knew this (about McNabb). Bill Musgrave, the offensive coordinator, and (Redskins head coach) Mike Shanahan have a relationship. Before Musgrave took (McNabb) on, they knew exactly what they were getting. They were hoping they could change him. They were hoping that he was going to rekindle his career. But essentially what happened in Minnesota is what happened in Washington."

For what it's worth, Kurt Warner, now working for NFL Network, talked to McNabb who told him that Lombardi's report was 'crazy.' Either way, he's now Ponder's backup.


CBS Sports' James Brown, Dan Marino, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe, and Boomer Esiason break down the Monday night matchup in Jacksonville between the Ravens and the Jaguars.

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Posted on: October 22, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: October 22, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Vikings Chris Cook arrested for domestic assault

Posted by Will Brinson

Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was arrested on domestic assault charges early Saturday morning and is being held without bail at Hennepin County Jail.

According to jail records, via Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500, Cook was booked at 4:06 a.m. CT Saturday morning and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday at 8:15 a.m. CT.

Which means it's possible that Cook is could sit in prison when Minnesota takes on Green Bay Sunday.

"The Minnesota Vikings are aware of the incident involving Chris Cook," the Vikings said in a statement released by the team. "We take this matter very seriously and are still gathering all the details of the incident. We will not have any further comment at this time."

This isn't Cook's first run-in with the law in recent months either -- the cornerback was charged with brandishing a firearm back in March. At the time, Cook denied that he was involved in any sort of fight, and eventually the charges were dismissed.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier had a talk with Cook in the offseason to reiterate the importance of staying out of trouble off the field, and the second-year player emerged as perhaps the most reliable cornerback on the field during the team's 1-5 start. At 6-foot-2, he has the size to match up with taller receivers and the speed to keep up with smaller ones.

Cook, a defensive back out of Virginia, was a 2010 second-round pick. He struggled with injuries his rookie season, but started the last three games for Minnesota thanks to a neck injury to Antoine Winfield.

The Vikings currently rank 24th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 269.5 yards per game. 

Without Cook, Asher Allen will likely step into the starting role with Marcus Sherels moving into the nickelback spot, giving the Vikings two of their top three cornerbacks under 5-foot-10. Rookie Brandon Burton also could be activated to provide some depth against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who run a wide-open passing attack that floods the secondary with receivers.

Even before the incident with Cook, Frazier said his short-handed secondary would be challenged against their undefeated division rivals.

"They do a lot of four- and five-wideout sets; more so than most teams that you play," Frazier said on Friday. "You would like to have all hands on deck, but the guys that are going to play are going to be ready to go and we are going to need them to step up and play big for us."



The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:43 am
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Previewing the NFL, Week 7

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

We never imaged there'd be a storyline that would overtake Tim Tebow's first start of the season, but the Raiders traded for Carson Palmer this week, going all-in on the 2011 season.

So we lead with Palmer and his new team facing the Chiefs, then talk about Tebow facing the Dolphins in Miami where he will be honored at halftime (seriously), before turning our attention to other first-time starters this season: John Beck replaces Rex Grossman in Washington, and rookie Christian Ponder takes over for Donovan McNabb in Minnesota.

We also preview the rest of the Week 7 action before having weekly guest Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com stop by to offer up some expert advice on -- you guessed it -- accurately predicting this week's winners. 

Talking starts ... now.

Just hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com