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Can't Miss Slants

An Interesting Thing for Everyone

Good morning, and welcome to your first (and possibly last) installment of An Interesting Thing for Everyone.  In this maybe series, I will note just one thing of interest for each team in the NFCN after their respective weeks of football have come to an end.  The reason is simple: its easier to do so than it is to do other things.  Without further ado:

Chicago Bears

Through two games, Khalil Mack has two sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception for a touchdown.  He has now forced 11 fumbles in four seasons and two games.  While impressive, Mack has a lot of work to do to reach the top ten in NFL history.  The current all-time leader, Robert Mathis, forced 54 fumbles in his career.  The lowest member of the top ten, Ricky Jackson, forced 40.  Interestingly, two other members of the top ten all time (Julius Peppers (50, 2nd all time, and Charles Tillman (44, 7th all time)) spent a large portion of their careers in Chicago.  Tillman is the only member of the top ten who did not play outside linebacker or defensive end.  The next highest total for a defensive back belongs to Brian Dawkins at 36.

Detroit Lions

Like their fellow NFCN team from across the mini-pond, the Lions had an interception called back in the fourth quarter after a controversial penalty call.  Because they are a less famous, less loved, and less consequential team, less media attention has been placed on the decision.  In the Lion’s case, the call was defensive holding on Quandre Diggs.   Diggs was on coverage on San Fransisco Tight End George Kittle away from the ball, and stated after the game that he believed he was appropriately jamming the tight end at the time of the decision.  The penalty nullified an interception, as noted, and one that would have put the Lions, then trailing by 3, on the 49er 7 yard line.

Like the Packers, the league office commented on the play, stating it was the correct call.  Whether or not that is true, it is certainly frustrating for such a call to be made away from a very consequential play.  Here’s a bad video of the evidence:

Green Bay Packers

The Packers will feel disappointed after giving up a decent lead in the second half against the false regent Minnesota Vikings.  In bad news, some old weaknesses appeared to haunt the team, including a weak outside pass rush and defensive backs looking slow and foolish against Minnesota’s pair of excellent receivers (yes, both of them you sports racists).

On a positive note, however, Jaire Alexander, who many were assured was a bust waiting to happen by those knowledgeable of college football in the south, is ranked as the 16th best cornerback through two weeks by Pro Football Focus (PFF).  While PFF often has questionable grades, that ranking matches with the eye test as Alexander has been a bright spot on the Packer defense.  On Sunday Alexander recorded 6 tackles, was credited with half a sack, and had a game-sealing interception nullified by an indubitably soft call on Clay Matthews.  Although the percentage of plays Alexander spent on Adam Thielen and Diggs appeared to be low, helping him come along with some easier assignments, it was an undeniably good day for the first round pick.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings fired kicker Daniel Carlson after three missed field goals, including a gimme to win the game in overtime.  The team spent a fifth-round pick on the rookie kicker, who bested Kai Forbath for the position in the preseason.  Many speculate that the decision to draft a kicker was made with the team’s cap in mind, as Forbath is a seventh year pro who would have been up for a contract at year end.  As Forbath was never considered an elite kicker, the Vikings’ decision had other justifications as well, including finding a replacement who would (hopefully) be an improvement at the position.

However, the best laid plans at times go awry.  The Vikings have not had good production at kicker since cutting ties with Ryan Longwell ahead of the 2012 season.  They may have lucked into a resolution for their woes, however, as they signed Dan Bailey, a surprise offseason cut by the Dallas Cowboys.  Mr. Baily is among the most accurate kickers in league history.