Idiot moves make Green a genius [9:34 AM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Dennis Green is an idiot. Last winter he let Randall Cunningham leave Minnesota as a free agent. And all he did was quarterback the Vikings to a 15-1 record in 1998 and a berth in the National Football Conference Championship Game. Shortly thereafter he did the same thing with Jeff George, whose contribution was taking the Vikes to 10 victories and a playoff berth last season. THEN Green handed the QB job to a second-year pro who had never thrown an NFL pass. What a fool. It's a good thing the Vikings are 6-0, or Dennis Green might have been fired by now. Instead, of course, he's being hailed as a genius ... on merit.'
The tall and short of it: Flutie leads underdog Bills [9:27 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Doug Flutie finds himself in an oh-so-familiar role today. Underdog. Flutie, one day shy of his 38th birthday, takes over a struggling Buffalo Bills' offense in one of the toughest venues in the NFL against one of only two undefeated teams in the league. If ever there was a game in which the Bills could use some Flutie magic, this is it.'
Mr. Clutch [9:26 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Giancola was supposed to push Christie and possibly compete for kickoff duties. But Giancola got more mileage out of his autograph marker than he did from his leg during training camp and was released before the first preseason game. Wednesday marked the second time Christie has earned AFC honors this year. He kicked three field goals, including the 33-yard game-winner with 31 seconds remaining, in the Bills' 16-13 season-opening victory over the Titans. "I like the pressure," Christie said. "I like it when there's something on the line. Sometimes early on in the game - not that it doesn't mean anything, but it's not the same - maybe you're not as locked on as you should be."'
Cornering the market on pass defense is key for Bills and Vikings [9:25 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Vikings' offense has yet to be truly contained this year. The Bills will need 27 points to win. It doesn't look like they're quite up to it. . . . Vikings 26-20.'
Flutie's back, and the Flakes are flying [9:23 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"We've seen sales of Flutie Flakes double since Sunday's game," said Stefanie Zakowicz, corporate spokeswoman for Tops Markets. "It's too early to say it indicates a strong trend, but sales are way up this week." And the sales spike isn't just a Bills-country phenomenon. Pittsburgh-based PLB Sports, the company that created the private-label cereal and sells it to retailers and on its Web site, has charted a 40 percent uptick in orders from around the United States for Flutie Flakes and other Flutie products.'
Bills, SPCA collaborate on 2001 calendar [9:22 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'In a not-so-instant replay of last year's calendar, the Buffalo Bills and the SPCA recently unveiled a "Bills and Their Pets" calendar for 2001. Included on the roster were guard Ruben Brown and his dog, Inca; nose tackle Ted Washington and his dogs, Thunder and Lightning; tight end Sheldon Jackson with his dog, Jesus; head coach Wade Phillips and his dog, Coach; General Manager John Butler and his dog, Josie Belle; and running back Jonathan Linton with his dog, Ozzy. Others appearing with SPCA animals include wide receiver Eric Moulds, tight end Jay Riemersma, wide receiver Peerless Price, linebackers Sam Rogers and Sam Cowart, and team Vice President Linda Bogdan.'
The beat goes on for Green and his Minnesota Vikings [9:21 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Recently the Sporting News, in a feature article, called him "the best coach in the NFL." Green not only has an eye for talent, he isn't afraid to take a chance on players other teams are reluctant to touch. Most teams, including Miami, which was coached by Jimmy Johnson at the time, thought Randy Moss was too hot to handle when he came out of Marshall. Green plucked him with the 21st overall pick and came out with the most dangerous receiver in football. Culpepper was the other extreme. When he came out of Central Florida with immense physical talents, there was a reluctance by some teams who thought he was too shy, too nice a kid to lead an NFL team, at least not without two or three years experience. "Denny knew he would be all right because he was playing with the best pair of receivers in the league and Bobby Smith, who is a great running back," Tasker points out. Culpepper has been more than all right. currently he's fourth in the NFL in passing, the Vikings are averaging 381 yards in offense and, most important, there is that 6-0 record. Denny Green knows what he's doing.'
Griffth, Thomas form a safety net for each other [7:54 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Robert Griffith remembers sitting in the Vikings' locker room, watching rookie safety Orlando Thomas act like he owned Winter Park. It was 1995, and Griffith, then in his second season with the Vikings, wasn't quite sure what to make of the second-round draft pick from Southwestern Louisiana. "When O.T. first joined the team during his rookie year, I thought he was a loudmouth," Griffith said. "He came in with (cornerback) Corey Fuller, and there was a lot of trash talking by the two of them. "I was like, wait a minute, look at these rookies. I know I'm in my second year, but look at this loudmouth country dude (Thomas). I said, 'He'd better be good.'" Five years and 914 combined tackles later, Thomas and Griffith have overcome vastly different beginnings to become two of the closest friends on the team. More important for the Vikings, the two safeties held together the defense when it struggled in past years. This season, they are peaking together, leading a resurgence in the unit that has helped the team to an undefeated start.'
Success, the small-market way [7:52 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'So how, in this age of free agency, have the Vikings and Bills remained among the top teams in their conferences? There are two primary reasons. First, neither team was built in a day with players purchased from other clubs. And, second, each team has maintained continuity inside the organization.'
Vikings-Bills matchup [7:50 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Doug Flutie will have the attention of his teammates. Many of them believe he should be the starter anyway. Expect to see a spirited Buffalo effort with Flutie playing a full game. While he'll have the support of his teammates, it's unknown how well Flutie will perform over the duration of an entire game. He looked good in overtime against San Diego. But he'll have shake some rust as a runner and a passer today. Watch for him to try to get the Vikings' defense nervous by running early. Flutie, 38 on Monday, can be a dangerous weapon, but he must prove can still be an effective starter.'
Flutie may give Bills lift [7:14 AM]
D and C reports: '"It's a lot more fun being on the field throwing the ball than standing on the sideline cheerleading," said Flutie, who turns 38 tomorrow. "I enjoy Sundays. I enjoy competing. But the bottom line is that we have to win a game. It's important we get to 4-3 rather than fall to 3-4."'
'Flutieball' gives Bills hope [7:13 AM]
D and C reports: '"We've had a similar offense the last two years and six games. That won't change, it's how they play us," Phillips said. "Doug has different strengths than Rob. How they try to play us and stop his strengths (is the key). It's the same plays but they're run differently at times because of the quarterback." And sometimes, things just happen.'
Q&A: Steve Christie [7:11 AM]
D and C reports: 'If you were the NFL commissioner, what would be the primary thing you would try to change about the game? "I would say the fields. There's a lot of complaining about Astro-turf, but I think there should be a lot more attention paid to the grass fields because a lot of them are in poor shape. I would think that your venue for such a game, the surface, for the benefit of the players, should be much better. The Jets' field was terrible. Last year, Baltimore and Washington were terrible. If you can't do grass, then don't do it. Jay Riemersma went down in New York, and that's a sandbox. And that's in New York where the commissioner is. That's not acceptable. Our field is pretty good, it's layered, it's very good."'
Scouting report [7:09 AM]
D and C reports: 'This is the 12th time since the 1970 merger that Buffalo has played an undefeated team through at least four games. The Bills are 8-3 in such games, including wins in five in a row. All three losses have been to unbeaten Miami teams.'
6-0 Vikes fear Flutie [7:07 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'Many in Buffalo, coach Phillips included, seem to be toning down the return of Flutie. It's part of the lingering hangover of Phillips' controversial decision to hand the job to Johnson prior to the Bills playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans this past January. Flutie fumed and sulked at the time and later said the Bills would have defeated the Titans had he started. He has been relegated to Johnson's backup since. When meeting with Buffalo media this week, Flutie, who is 17-8 as a starter with the Bills, bit his lip and stuck to the company line. But in a conference call with Minnesota reporters, he said the demotion still eats at him.'
New gunslinger in town [7:05 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'The soon-to-be-outdated NFL textbook suggests that a quarterback should only carry the ball on draws, sneaks and broken plays. It also says 6-foot-5, 255-pound players are supposed to fill positions such as linebacker and perhaps fullback. Oldtime students of the game, meet Daunte Culpepper.'
The last word [7:02 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'Doug Flutie doesn't look like Rob Johnson, act like Rob Johnson or throw like Rob Johnson. He can't step back and pass. He can't be the prototypical NFL quarterback. He isn't tall enough or strong enough. He probably can't even start on a full-time basis anymore. But there is something inside Flutie that Johnson may never have or even comprehend. And that is an inherent understanding of what it takes to win a football game and how to go about accomplishing it. In this, Flutie is commanding. In this, Johnson remains a neophyte with skill but not guile.'
Vikings Anderson an unlikely scoring king [6:59 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Soon, perhaps as early as the Vikings' game this afternoon against Buffalo, the kicker who grew up playing soccer and rugby in South Africa will lay claim to one of the most-sacred records in American sports. Anderson is 10 points away from eclipsing Blanda's NFL record of 2,002 career points, a milestone compiled over 26 seasons by a player who doubled as a quarterback during a more rugged era of professional football.'
Thomas likes Griffith even better up close [6:58 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'When Emmitt Thomas coached in Philadelphia and Green Bay, he always had great respect for Vikings safety Robert Griffith. Now that Thomas is the Vikings' defensive coordinator, he has an even greater appreciation for Griffith's talents. "The thing I admire about him is that from looking at people from afar, you never get the full impact," Thomas said. "When I was at Philadelphia and at Green Bay, we really loved this young man. And then coming here, he's not a disappointment. He's a heavy hitter, good cover guy and a good team player. "He is smart, but he also likes to compete. He's intense and very competitive, even in practice. He's got a great work ethic, and is the leader of our defense."'
Kent Youngblood's predictions: Vikings vs. Bills [6:57 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Vikings 21, Buffalo 17.'
Flutie no stand-in: he deserves top billing [6:55 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'It's the belief here that Flutie still may be the most magical player in the NFL. He knows that. What drives you crazy is to hear all the whispers from newspaper columnists that teammates don't like him and how they hope he fails so Robbie can flourish. There's only one problem with that theory: When does he fail? And when does Robbie flourish?'
Once again, Flutie steps to the fore [6:54 AM]
Metro West Daily News reports: 'Here we go again, Flutie at 38 has to prove himself worthy one more time. The pressure's on. Let's say Johnson is ready in three weeks. That gives Flutie two games to produce wins and look good doing it. He was winning last year (10-5) but the the coaches didn't think he looked so good doing it. So they pulled the plug on the guy. Flutie went on record as saying he thinks the Bills would have beaten the Titans had he played. He took a lot of grief for saying so. That'll teach him to be honest.'
Culpepper adds spice to already hot Vikings offense [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Culpepper enters Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills as the first first-round draft choice to win his first six starts since 1950, when they started keeping track of such a thing.'
ESPN program lets everyone feel Bills fans' pain [8:54 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Bills fans, set your VCRs. ESPN is premiering a love letter to you, "NFL Films Presents - A Town, a Team and a Dream: The Story of the Buffalo Bills," at 3 a.m. Monday. The way things are going with the length of postseason baseball, that may be the time that Game Two of the World Series ends. The special includes a variety of NFL Films footage of the past, as well as new interviews with Bills cheerleader Tim Russert of "Meet the Press," former Buffalo News writer Vic Carucci, filmmaker Vincent Gallo ("Buffalo '66"), radio voice Van Miller and ex-Bills Jack Kemp, Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly and Paul Maguire. It also airs at 4 p.m. Monday on ESPN, and at noon and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and at 3:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2. Russert, Carucci and Gallo get most of the air time in the half-hour program, which discusses the pain one experiences as a Bills fan and the fantasy of what it actually would be like if they ever won the Super Bowl.'
Behind 6-0 are healthy bodies [8:09 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Remarkably, left guard Corbin Lacina is the only starter to miss a game. He suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in the third preseason game and missed three weeks, including the season opener against Chicago.'
Ex-Bills will help Vikings with strategy [8:07 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Northern, who will play this week at defensive tackle in a nickel-defense situation, has been working with some of the Vikings' coaches, gladly surrendering all the information he has on the Bills' scheme and their personnel. "In practice, I might see something and point how the Bills do it," Northern said. "I practiced against that offense and I know it pretty well, so there are some things I can help with . . . I'd love to help us expose something that directly helps us win the game." Lacina and Paup (who is out for the next six games with a fracture in his knee) have talked to their teammates about the habits of some of the Bills' players. "I was talking to Johnny (Randle) about some of the Bills' offensive linemen," Lacina said. "I was around those guys and know a lot of their little secrets. Knowing the personnel is big part of playing a team."'
Vikings gear up to pound away at Bills defense [8:02 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: '"They've done it extremely well, and so they are really good at it," said Vikings coach Dennis Green. "The biggest thing is that you have two uncovered linemen right in there with the nose tackle, and so the nose tackle can move a lot of different ways. It gives you an extra athlete on the field. If you don't get a lot of looks at it, you have to make a lot of decisions, and learn a lot of things in a short period of time. You don't have the continuity of what you played last week and the week before, and now you play that this week. The big thing is, it's a great run defense. That makes a big difference."'
Shorter Buffalo defensive backs face test with Moss [6:28 AM]
D and C reports: 'Moss will present enormous problems for the Bills because at 6-foot-4, he has an eight-inch height advantage on cornerback Antoine Winfield, and a six-inch gap on the other corner, Ken Irvin. In Buffalo's dime defense, the tallest of the six defensive backs is strong safety Henry Jones who stands an even 6-feet.'
Flutie in familiar role as underdog [6:26 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Asked about losing the job to Johnson last season, Flutie said, "Well, in my mind, I don't feel I ever lost it. I felt like it was taken from me. But none of that means anything. "My role with this team right now is as the No. 2 quarterback. And my job is to fill in when he's banged up or come in at the end of ballgames, whatever it may be. ... "My job basically is as a Band-Aid right now."'
Notes [6:25 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Perhaps the biggest reason the Buffalo Bills have the fourth-best run defense and the best defense on first down stands about 6-4 and weighs 330. His name: Ted Washington.'
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