Roster Reset: Packers stand apart in NFCN

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by little bear, Apr 16, 2014.

  1. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000341651/article/roster-reset-nfc-north

    The Green Bay Packers have high-class problems. The rest of the NFC North just has problems.

    After five straight playoff appearances and three straight division titles, Green Bay still stands apart in talent from their rivals. The Packers will never be more ripe to be dethroned than they were in 2013 when Aaron Rodgers missed seven games. Green Bay wasn't a particularly good team when they won the division; they were just fortunate to play in a division caught in a down cycle.

    Minnesota and Detroit are starting over with new coaching staffs, the telltale sign of franchises in transition. The Lions have the talent base and the quarterback to bounce back quickly, but they've only produced one winning season in the Calvin Johnson era. Chicago has a quality coach and quarterback in place, but their defense ranks among the league's worst groups.

    This free agency period hasn't changed the division dynamic dramatically. The Packers brought in Julius Peppers, but mostly focused on re-signing their own players. The Bears made big changes in an effort to re-make the roster, but it's still a team in transition. They lost almost as much talent as they signed. Minnesota and Detroit mostly made cosmetic changes.

    To truly make up ground in the division, someone other than Packers general manager Ted Thompson needs to hit a home run in the upcoming draft. The Lions, Vikings and Bears likely won't have the benefit of Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn starting games for the Packers this time around.

    In our Roster Reset series, Around the League will rank teams in each division based on how much they improved this offseason. The NFC North is up last.

    1. Green Bay Packers

    Why the rest of the division should worry: Rodgers isn't the only Packers starter returning to the field. Green Bay missed scores of games from Clay Matthews, Bryan Bulaga, Randall Cobb, Casey Hayward, Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy and more. Our roster reset exercise is about what teams have improved. The Packers got better by getting healthier, and re-signing more key players than expected.


    Cornerback Sam Shields cost a lot to bring back, but he was the team's best player at his position. Mike Neal is the type of young, promising player we expected to get more money elsewhere in free agency. B.J. Raji returned at a discount price, while James Starks and John Kuhn add depth to a suddenly dangerous backfield. Signing Julius Peppers was the type of high-risk, high-reward gambit Thompson rarely tries. And he made sure it wasn't too risky since it's essentially a one-year contract.



    Recapping Packers' offseason moves
    Key re-signings

    Key arrivals

    Key departures

    Sam Shields

    Julius Peppers

    James Jones
    B.J. Raji

    Letroy Guion

    Jermichael Finley
    Mike Neal

    Evan Dietrich-Smith
    James Starks

    Marshall Newhouse

    What's next:

    » More OL help: The Packers could be looking for a starter at center and it wouldn't be crazy to add another option at tackle. It's hard to count on David Bakhtiari as an indefinite solution on the blind side.

    » Safety: Micah Hyde could move to safety, but the Packers still need help here after giving up way too many big plays last year.

    » Sign a wide receiver long term: The Packers probably can't sign both Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson this offseason, but they should get one big contract done. The team's depth at wide receiver makes the current hole at tight end not look quite as bad.

    2. Chicago Bears

    Why they improved: The Bears knew what wasn't working on their defense. Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and Willie Young are an upgrade on Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Corey Wootton. Melton didn't play last year. The Bears' defense lacked an identity last season, unless that identity was "give up a lot of points." Now they have identified players to fix a broken defensive line, even if there are big problems elsewhere on the defense.


    Coach Marc Trestman's ability to teach quarterbacks will help whoever they bring in to replace Josh McCown as their backup quarterback. At safety, the Bears went with quantity over quality by bringing in Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray. Devin Hester was an emotional departure, not an impactful one.


    Recapping Bears' offseason moves
    Key re-signings

    Key arrivals

    Key departures

    Charles Tillman

    Lamarr Houston

    Julius Peppers
    Jeremiah Ratliff

    Jared Allen

    Henry Melton
    D.J. Williams

    Willie Young

    Josh McCown
    Eben Britton

    Brian De La Puente

    Devin Hester

    What's next:

    » Everything defense: We could pick a position or five (defensive tackle, safety to start), but it's not about the position. It's about finding young talent. The Bears need players to build around at every defensive position because their best players are veterans like Lance Briggs.


    » Backup skill positions: Chicago's offensive line looks good and their starting lineup is formidable. But they have practically no one behind Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. (Josh Freeman would fit well here.) The team could also use another option at No. 3 receiver.


    3. Minnesota Vikings

    Why they are treading water: Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder and a rookie to be named later remain the quarterbacks. Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner were strong coaching hires, but they are taking over a mostly vanilla roster.
    The team put huge faith in Everson Griffen, giving him $20 million guaranteed. That contract looked worse as the pass rusher market played out in free agency. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn were both smart signings, solid veterans that can capably start. Guard Vlad Ducasse, cornerback Derek Cox and defensive tackle Corey Wootton were reasonable, low-cost gambits. The team will miss Jared Allen, and needs to replace Toby Gerhart at running back.

    This was a solid offseason thus far for Minnesota. They know they can't solve their roster in one month.


    Recapping Vikings' offseason moves
    Key re-signings

    Key arrivals

    Key departures

    Everson Griffen

    Linval Joseph

    Jared Allen
    Matt Cassel

    Captain Munnerlyn

    Chris Cook
    Jerome Simpson

    Derek Cox

    Toby Gerhart
    Fred Evans

    Corey Wootton

    John Carlson

    What's next:

    » Draft a quarterback: They were burned by Christian Ponder, but can't let that scare them from drafting a quarterback every season until they find one that sticks. Teddy Bridgewater could fit in Turner's system well.

    » Find secondary help: Zimmer has a great track record coaching up defensive backs. He still might need two starters, one at cornerback and safety.

    » See if Kyle Rudolph will sign team-friendly deal: He's only going to get more expensive after a year under tight end-friendly Turner.

    4. Detroit Lions

    Why they took a small step back: They have inexperienced coordinators on both sides of the ball. Golden Tate was a solid addition to the offense, but it's not like he's an above-average NFL starter out wide. The next biggest addition was ... James Ihedigbo?

    Detroit didn't lose a ton to the market, but safety Louis Delmas, quarterback Shaun Hill and defensive end Willie Young had their moments. The Lions are betting on their new staff to develop their significant talent because the starting lineup won't be too different.


    Recapping Lions' offseason moves
    Key re-signings

    Key arrivals

    Key departures

    Brandon Pettigrew

    Golden Tate

    Louis Delmas
    Rashean Mathis

    James Ihedigbo

    Shaun Hill
    Jeremy Ross

    Dan Orlovsky

    Willie Young
    Andre Fluellen

    Cassius Vaughn

    Nate Burleson

    What's next:

    » Sign Ndamukong Suh: Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh are an incredible trio, but they take up a huge portion of the Lions' salary cap. A long-term deal for Suh should happen, and should help position the team for 2015.

    » Find cornerbacks: They have thrown a lot of different options against the wall, and little has stuck.

    » More outside pass rushers: Detroit has a lot of potential here with Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Jason Jones, but not much to rely on. Consider it a good thing that the Lions don't have a more pressing concern than this. This is the second-best roster in the division. Getting them to play up to their talent is the tricky part.
     
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  2. abegibronlives

    abegibronlives Veteran

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    It's a quarterback's league. The teams with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and, yes, Aaron Rodgers routinely win their division. If you don't have one of those guys, you're starting at a disadvantage. Jay Cutler is in the second-tier of quarterbacks, but what are you going to do? He's the best we have, the best we've had in awhile. He's just not one of the elite guys, and he's never going to be. His main problems are a) He gets hurt every year, b) he turns the ball over at the moment you can least afford it, and c) he always seems to find a reason to not be great at the definitive moment. In short, he's Tony Romo: He'll give you a lot to be excited about, just before he breaks your heart.
     
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  3. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Assistant Head Coach
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    If we want to become relevant in the NFL again we need to have success building a defense in Chicago again. We're delusional if we think we're riding Jay's arm (alone) to dethrone Aaron Rodgers and the Pack. We have to have enough defense to beat the best teams in the NFL, and it begins with dethroning GB.
     
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  4. abegibronlives

    abegibronlives Veteran

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    Someone once said if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. In the NFC North, the Packers are the best.
     
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  5. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    They're not the best team overall, they're just lucky to have the best QB.
     
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  6. Bearsinhouston

    Bearsinhouston Coordinator

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    It is a proven fact that a top tier QB provides a team an enourmous advantage. However, it has also been proven that a top tier (and we aren't there yet) neutralizes even the very best QBs. Rogers, Manning, Brady ---- all of them have a tough time with people hitting them all game long. They obviously do a better job then most st still getting the ball off and it's usually harder to get to them. but when you hit them and hit them often and keep them under constant pressure, they are not on their A game and can be beat.

    This is why I think our top proirity
     
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  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler
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    The legacy of Bears championships in the modern era has always been built on defense and 99 is 100% correct. (no pun intended.......well maybe just a little one).

    Jay Cutler is not the kind of QB who will systematically kills you all game long with a precision passing attack. He's a big play guy and he has big play tools to work with for a change. Forte has proven that he has the speed and moves to score from far out and Jeffery and Marshall, while not speedy, can take the ball away from most defensive backs even when covered so I expect us to continue to attack that way.

    If that's the case we won't always see 10-12 play 80 yard drives that allow the defense time to recoup. We need depth but we also need a smart combination of vets and younger players playing these rotations. It wouldn't break my heart to see both Bostic and McClellin getting snaps and giving guys like Briggs and DWill some breaks. It's not something we've done before but we didn't have two 32 year old plus LBs before until recently either.

    To compete we need to restock as we go and so far Emery has been fairly adept at that. The draft should provide more answers than questions and then let's see how we stack up. Our advantage over the Packers has always been a superior defense and we need to regain that edge because we've drawn much closer to them offensively if not equal to them. Our offense is good enough to compete at any level but the rest of the holes on that defense have to be filled with starters from wherever we can get them and the backups need to get younger and be ready to step in over the next year or two.

    For now the focus still needs to be on restocking that defense and getting schemes built to defeat the teams we play most often and the Packers certainly fit there. Seattle proved again this past February that a great defense can undo even the best offense run by the best QBs. The way to beat the Packers is to beat Aaron Rodgers and beat him badly. That's gonna take constant pressure up the middle and from ends that won't let him escape to buy time. Those are the elements we need to keep him and the Packers in check. Do that and their offense can't get untracked. Lacy is a tough runner but even he's gonna have a much tougher go of it this year against the line we've been building.

    Just keep strengthening the defense and let Trestman figure out how to cut down on mistakes and put points on the board. He seems to be good at that.
     
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  8. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler
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    Can this please thread be moved to the rival team forum, so I don't have to see that nasty dirty foul-mouthed despised team name in the list of Bears topics?

    Thanks!

    :packsuck:
     
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  9. abegibronlives

    abegibronlives Veteran

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    Yeah, they've been lucky like that for over twenty years now. It's starting to get old.
     
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  10. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    Yeah, I could not wait for B. Favre to retire he killed us over time. Never dreamed they would follow it up with Rodgers. We have literally had like 20 different QBs while the Pack have had 2.
     
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