NFL News, Rumors and All That

Rumors, Notes, and All That is a new column across the NFL network here at which will touch on the talk around the league. Also, we'll dive into rumor and speculation that we find along our travels in dealing with personnel and others attached to the game.

FAVRE FADE-OUT? FORGET IT: Has the time come for Brett Favre to take a step back and let the Green Bay Packers groom (hopefully) the quarterback of the future, Aaron Rodgers?

Not so quick, say those close to the team. Favre has not lost the desire to play, even in light to the team's 0-4 start to the season.

The Packers are optimistic the season can be salvaged, especially after witnessing the Packers' second-half run at the Carolina Panthers on Monday night. Additionally, all indications are Favre is not in the mode of playing mentor to the young Rodgers at this time. As for Rodgers, he has shown some gradual improvement in practices since his slow start in training camp, but he is not ready for prime time, according to those close to the team.

NO CONFIDENCE IN VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: Though Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice has been given a vote of confidence by ownership, he shouldn't get too cozy.

Tice is in the last year of his contract and he isn't the communicator new team owner Zygi Wilf desires, according to team sources.

Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, a long-time assistant coach in the league, could easily become the next coach of the Vikings, as early as this season if the team does not show dramatic improvement. Also, do not discount former Vikings' offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's name from consideration when the Vikings make their move.

PAT ANSWERS: Despite a slow start and injury issues to the New England Patriots defense, there is reason to believe Bill Belichick's team will rebound.

The loss of Rodney Harrison is devastating, but getting healthy cornerbacks back on the field to mask inefficiency could be what the doctor ordered in New England.

The one area which has displayed a noticeable fall-off in production and coverage is at linebacker, where the loss of Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson is damaging. Chad Brown and Monte Beisel are serviceable, but do not make the plays consistently and have yet to show the leadership qualities Bruschi provided.

As for the rumors Bruschi will return to the field in the 2005 season (out after suffering a stroke), don't bet the house on it. While Bruschi wants to play, we hear Belichick is not warm to the idea.

BOLTS STRIKE TWICE: Many wondered if the San Diego Chargers were a one-hit wonder in 2004. Coming out of nowhere to win the AFC West division, the Chargers were a couple botched plays from playing the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots in the AFC title game. After an 0-2 start, the Chargers found the lost element of their game, relying on super-stud running back LaDainian Tomlinson to foot the load. Tomlinson may be the best offensive player in the game today, but the play of quarterback Drew Brees and an improved offensive line often goes unnoticed.

Also, give head coach Marty Schottenheimer credit - he has handed the reigns of the offense to Cam Cameron and the team has progressed well.

But, the best move made by this organization could be the hiring of Wade Phillips to run the defense. In his second season in San Diego, the Chargers defense is showing marked improvement and should be a force as the season progresses.

BLACK HOLE FOR O: Despite the acquisition of wide receiver Randy Moss, things are not all rosy in Oakland. The Raiders are off to a 1-3 start and the slow start is not due to an overmatched defense, as was the norm in the 2004 season.

Quarterback Kerry Collins has put up some decent stats, but the offense has not been the high-powered machine many envisioned.

The Raiders are 13th in the league in total offense and those around the organization are not sure Collins is the man to lead this team in the future, as he consistently is late on his reads, leaving big plays on the field ... all of which has helped secure head coach Norv Turner's spot on the hot seat.

While there hasn't been a revolt in Oakland, grumblings are beginning to surface that Moss wants the ball more and running back LaMont Jordan feels under-used in the running game.

STILL LOVE FOR LOVIE: Normally, the head coach is first in line to feel the heat when losses mount. In Chicago, head coach Lovie Smith appears safe, despite the struggles the Bears have faced.

Issues at quarterback (Rex Grossman knee surgery and broken leg) have left this promising team hampered over the past few seasons, none of which can be attributed directly to Smith.

We hear Chicago ownership is being patient, but general manager Jerry Angelo could face the music if this team does not play to a respectable level, as he is responsible for securing talent for the organization.

BALTIMORE, BOLLER, AND BILLICK: The Baltimore Ravens offense has left team owner Steve Biscotti in an increasingly impatient mode regarding their continuous struggles. Quarterback Kyle Boller has not shown the progress anticipated after he was drafted in the first round a few short years ago. Running back Jamal Lewis is struggling, all after the Ravens focused on improving their offense this offseason.

Head coach Brian Billick is not on the hot seat, but he is being pressured to right the ship in Baltimore. Expect the team to stick with Anthony Wright at quarterback if it shows some life, even after Boller returns from injury.

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