NFC North News, Notes and Quotes

Detroit coaches and players were both taking the blame for a 34-7 loss to the Chicago Bears, one in which they weren't as physical as they had hoped. Green Bay is pinning its loss to the New Orleans Saints on dropped passes. Get those stories and in-depth notes on "the other two teams" in the NFC North as the Bears and Vikings prepare for their own matchup.


Coach Rod Marinelli was willing to take the responsibility; in fact, Marinelli insisted on taking responsibility for the Lions' second loss of the season.

"It's on me," Marinelli said. "I believed we had really explained it to them well. Obviously, I've got to do better. I have to do better, our staff has to do better.

"It's me. I just believe myself that I have the ability to get these guys to really go and really believe in it and be physical. I believe I know how to do that. And I failed this week, I failed in the preparation so I'll take the bullet right in the head."

The players understood exactly what Marinelli was doing by taking the blame for the 34-7 loss to the Chicago Bears, dropping them to 0-2 for their game Sunday against the equally winless Green Bay Packers at Ford Field.

"That's his job to take the loss," said wide receiver Roy Williams. "That's what he gets paid for but it's not his fault, nowhere close to his fault. He's not putting the pads on, he's not catching the ball, he's not blocking nobody. He's wishing he could but he's not doing it."

Cornerback Dre' Bly agreed with Williams, saying the Lions' players know exactly who is responsible for the subpar performance that has to be corrected.

"Coaches can't take the blame," Bly said. "The coaches have done everything they can do to prepare us ... and we have to be held accountable also. We didn't come out ready. We were flat in all phases and they basically did whatever they wanted to do."

Since the day last winter Marinelli has preached the necessity of being accountable and he insists that it starts with himself. He felt after a hard-fought 9-6 loss to Seattle in the season opener that the Lions could correct their mistakes and play better against the Bears.

"I'm disappointed in myself for not getting it corrected," he said. "I think it's coaching. That's why they fire coaches, not players. If I try to put it off on the players, that's inexcusable."


  • Two games into the season, wide receiver Mike Williams, a first-round pick in 2005, still hasn't been on the field for the Lions.

    Williams has been inactive for both games and he is obviously angry and frustrated with the situation. He says neither coach Rod Marinelli nor offensive coordinator Mike Martz has explained why he isn't suiting up for games.

    "I've given up on trying to figure out what it is, or what it has been or what it's gonna be," Williams told the Detroit Free Press. "The only thing I look at is coming to practice and putting the maximum effort I can put into it. Y'all go ask the powers that be. I don't know what to say."

    Martz told reporters last week that Williams was having a good week of practice but on game day, he had Az-Zahir Hakim in uniform with just three days practice and Williams was a healthy scratch from the lineup.

    "They're big on what you earn," Williams said. "I guess my time here hasn't earned me (a chance) to play and his two days of practice earned him (a chance) to play."

    Williams said he feels he and Charles Rogers, who was cut before the start of the season, became the "poster boys" for everything that was wrong with the Lions' organization before the arrival of Marinelli and Martz.

    "Every new beginning needs a poster boy for why the other way didn't work," Williams said. "I know that as well as Charles did. I know how hard he worked coming off his injury. I know how hard they were on him before he got hurt again. And then he kind of got thrown under the bus."

  • Rookie linebacker Ernie Sims has led the Lions in tackles in both of his first two NFL games but he is also paying a $7,500-league imposed fine.

    Sims was fined for lowering his helmet to hit Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who slid at the end of a scramble in the season opener.

    "That's the last thing I want to do is get a fine," Sims said. "I've got to be a smart ball player. But at the same time, I can't let nothing take away from my game."

    Coach Rod Marinelli did not defend Sims' hit. "Sims was sprinting," he said. "It was full, dead speed. But he has to learn when it's a quarterback, you have to go over the top."

    The NFL used the Sims incident as an illustration of the wrong way to hit a sliding quarterback. NFL senior vice president of football operations Ray Anderson included it in a memo sent to all 32 teams, noting that defensive end Cory Redding leaped over Hasselbeck but Sims "had the opportunity to avoid contact, but instead drove his helmet into the quarterback."

  • LB Alex Lewis suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee early in the first quarter of the 34-7 loss to Chicago. Coach Rod Marinelli said his return will be listed as day-to-day. Lewis was probably the Lions' best linebacker in the opening game, combining speed and athletic ability with good tackling.

  • SS Kenoy Kennedy suffered a foot injury in the Lions' 34-7 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday but coach Rod Marinelli says his return will be listed as day-to-day, rather than week-to-week. It is expected second-round draft pick Daniel Bullocks will fill in for him if he is unable to start Sunday against Green Bay.

  • S Jon McGraw suffered a concussion but it is not believed to be especially serious. Coach Rod Marinelli indicated McGraw's return will be listed as day-to-day.

  • WR Mike Furrey got his first starting assignment for the Lions in the 34-7 loss to Chicago on Sunday. Furrey, who had five receptions for 55 yards in the season opener a week ago, replaced Corey Bradford in the starting lineup and responded with another six receptions for 67 yards. Furrey and RB Kevin Jones are tied for the team lead in receptions after two games with 11 each and Furrey leads the team in receiving yards with 122.

  • TE Casey FitzSimmons, who suffered a broken wrist in the opening preseason game and is expecting to play in his first regular season game either Sunday against Green Bay or the following week at St. Louis, has signed a four-year contract extension with the Lions. FitzSimmons originally made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2003, primarily as a special teams player but he was the starting TE before the injury this summer.


    The Packers literally dropped the ball on notching their first victory of the season.

    Six dropped passes turned up on the film review of the 34-27 loss to New Orleans on Sunday. Halfback Ahman Green and tight end Bubba Franks were the biggest culprits with three and two, respectively.

    Although many of the drops were on check-downs underneath or in the flat and wouldn't have amounted to much yardage, the blunders bogged down an offense that was clicking most of the game.

    "I don't think I'm ever critical to those guys, and I think I've said this, but when a guy drops the ball, I don't think he does it on purpose," quarterback Brett Favre said.

    Nevertheless, Favre was left to wonder what could have been on a busy day when he threw the ball 55 times and completed 31 of them for 340 yards and three touchdowns.

    "When a guy works hard and then makes a mistake like that, it happens and it's part of the game. But, you have to go in as mentally prepared as possible," Favre said. "Physically, sometimes you get beat; sometimes you miss a read or a catch. And, we're not good enough to overcome (the drops).

    "As close as we were and as many plays as we made, we're not good enough to overcome that. That's what's disappointing. We needed one or two more plays, and we needed to eliminate some of the bad plays, as always. But, in our case, it's more profound than maybe years before because we can't close the deal."

    Head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday there's no excuse for players, especially veterans such as Green and Franks, to not catch the football. Green also had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter that set up a decisive touchdown run by Deuce McAllister.

    "(It's) really lack of focus, lack of concentration — trying to run with the ball before you have it, taking your eye off it, however you want to describe it," McCarthy said.

    The abundance of drops was more glaring in this game because the Packers were reduced to a one-dimensional offense since the rushing attack was nonexistent. Consequently, they squandered a 13-0 lead after the first quarter.

    "We can't dominate the run game yet, and we're still kind of finding our way," Favre said. "So, our defense makes some plays for us early, we do score. But, then we've got to find a way to put it away. And, you do that by running the football and controlling the passing game.

    "If you're dropping passes and you're not getting but 1 or 2 yards per run, it is difficult. You start pressing. I know I do."


  • Two big plays are what made second-year safety Nick Collins a goat instead of a possible hero in the Packers' 34-27 loss to New Orleans on Sunday.

    Collins handled the challenge of keeping ultra-back Reggie Bush under wraps for most of the game, but his shoddy one-on-one downfield pass coverage against receivers was costly.

    Collins stumbled on a 33-yard throw from Drew Brees to tight end Mark Campbell in the second quarter. The completion led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Deuce McAllister that started the Saints' scoring after they spotted the Packers a 13-0 lead.

    Then, with the score tied 20-20 in the fourth quarter, Collins was beat on a 35-yard touchdown pass to rookie Marques Colston.

    "He's fully capable of making those plays and was in position to make them," head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.

    McCarthy, though, believes better days are ahead for last year's second-round draft pick.

    "I think Nick is definitely on the up-climb to have a very, very Pro Bowl-type career. He has that type of ability," McCarthy said. "He makes those two plays, and I'm sitting there thinking he had a good game."

  • A change at strong-side linebacker hasn't been ruled out. Brady Poppinga has started the first two games after supplanting veteran Ben Taylor late in the preseason.

    However, Poppinga, who made a hasty recovery from a torn anterior-cruciate ligament sustained last December, has been a liability in pass coverage. He was caught in a one-on-one mismatch with receiver Joe Horn on Sunday and allowed a 57-yard completion in the third quarter.

    "Ben's done a real nice job when he's been in there; he's done a real good job on special teams," McCarthy said. "But, we'll look at that more (Tuesday) when we get into our game-planning" for Sunday's game at Detroit.

  • CB Al Harris suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury Sunday. McCarthy said Harris would be questionable when practice resumes Wednesday. Harris left the game in the closing minutes of the first half because of leg cramping and required intravenous fluids, but he returned for the start of the second half.

  • LG Jason Spitz is questionable for the upcoming game against the Lions. Spitz was deactivated Sunday because of a deep thigh bruise.

  • LG Daryn Colledge made his first pro start in place of fellow rookie Spitz. McCarthy judged Colledge's performance to be "just OK" and wouldn't say who would be the starter if Spitz is cleared to return this week.

  • TE David Martin suffered an undisclosed knee injury in the game and will be questionable on the injury report come Wednesday.

  • WR Koren Robinson was limited to just kickoff returns in his Packers debut, averaging 18.3 yards in four attempts. Robinson's availability as a receiver against Detroit will be determined later in the week. He said Friday he's not completely comfortable in the offensive scheme after he signed a two-year contract Tuesday.

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