You know that an NFL division is hardcore when its teams have more turnover than my grandma’s baking binges. By turnover I mean roster-wise, not interceptions and fumbles. There was a lot of that, too, but that’s besides the point.
The real point is that the NFC North is cold. The only team they’re missing is the Buffalo Bills, and the NFC North would be considered the division most likely to be cancelled from November to January on account of weather.
Let’s see how these teams weathered the offseason.
Asinine Analysis continues its critical summary of the good moves, bad moves, and hopeful moves for each and every team this offseason, leading into the 2015 NFL Draft.
Our next targets: the teams of the NFC North.
The Good: The second coming of the ’85 Bears defense could be in sight. John Fox is now your head coach. The Marc Trestman experiment was nice and showed off how this team can win a few games without leaning on their defense or special teams. But, with John Fox, it’s back to business. Time to start building the Windy City Wall again.
To help keep rival offenses honest, the Bears still have the services of Matt Forte, Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.
The Bad: Referring to the above about the Bears offense, that’s it. Brandon Marshall was traded, leaving Jeffery to fend for himself. Sure, Cutler can dunp it off to his running back all day, but that’s not the gunslinging “Smoking Jay” Cutler that we’ve all come to know and love.
As far as that ’85 Bears Defense revival, Chicago will have to wait for that, too. Rome wasn’t built in a single football season.
The Hopeful: The good news is that Alshon Jeffery was looking like a younger Brandon Marshall last year, so you have your veteran wide receiver replacement right there. Now the Bears need a speedy wideout. They could pick up Wes Welker out of the free agency market for now, but should look to drafting a receiver like Chris Conley from Georgia in the later rounds, if he’s available by then.
Why so late? Because the first three picks are all about that defense.
The Good: It takes a special offense to lose a good player and end up better than they were. The Detroit Lions have that offense.
With Calvin Johnson going to get Matthew Stafford bombs, Golden Tate keeping safeties honest, Joique Bell banging into the line and Eric Ebron developing into the tight end we all thought he was, it’s hard to believe there can be improvement by subtraction, but there is. Reggie Bush is gone. No more will the offense have to practice all week with a running back that probably won’t play for half the game. Theo Riddick is your pass-catching back, and that can be a beautiful thing.
The Bad: Remember last season’s Lions defense that had quarterbacks sweating before they got on the field and had Aaron Rodgers crying about getting run over? It’s not there this season. Not even close.
Ndamukong Suh has Will Smith’s “Miami” on repeat. Nick Fairley is shoring up Jeff Fisher’s mustache and defensive line in St. Louis.
To replace that space and show their fans that they’re trying, the Lions traded some later draft picks to the Baltimore Ravens for Haloti Ngata. Hopefully he fills huge roster holes as well as he does running lanes.
The Hopeful: MORE DEFENSE!
23rd pick in the 1st round? MORE DEFENSE!
24th pick in the 7th round? MORE DEFENSE!
27th pick in the 3rd round of the supplemental draft? MORE DEFENSE!
If John Abraham can put on pads, you might as well throw him a contract while you’re at it.
Green Bay Packers
The Good: It took a lot of finagling, but the Green Bay Packers completed the deal that was pretty much “make or break” for the team’s coming season. There was a lot of skepticism that the Packers could keep him since he’s such an integral part of their offense, but Wisconsin ponied up and inked a contract that benefited everyone.
The player I’m talking about, of course, is fullback John Kuhn.
I also heard that the Packers are keeping around Randall What’s-His-Name and B.J. Who’s-It-What, and that some guy named Will Rogers who can throw a football. But, at the end of the day, all the Cheese-Heads will be screaming one name in unison: “KHUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNN!”
The Bad: As far as I know, Aaron Rodgers is still dating Olivia Munn. This isn’t exactly bad for the Green Bay Packers, but I really wanted to vent about this like I do whenever I have to bring up the Packers.
As far as on the field, this defense still has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. There’s always one great player at each level, surround by a bunch of fill-ins. At the first level is B.J. Raji. Second level, Clay Matthews. Third level, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Three players don’t make a solid defense, especially with the quarterbacks on every team in this division except the Vikings.
The Hopeful: Once again, defense is the focus for a team. With the Packers holding the 30th pick, they should probably key in to a cornerback like Marcus Peters or P.J. Williams to slow down those big-play quarterbacks on the other teams… except the Vikings.
The Good: Well, the Vikings weren’t the worst team in the division last season. That’s pretty good considering no one expected them to show up, never mind win, when Adrian Peterson couldn’t play.
In more good news, Teddy Bridgewater developed splendidly as a quarterback right before our eyes. And he did it without, again, Adrian Peterson.
Speaking of Adrian Peterson, did you see how well Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata provided a one-two punch from the backfield?
The Bad: With the running back situation taken care of and an aspiring quarterback under center, the Minnesota Vikings are… exactly where they were in 2012. Bridgewater takes the place of that season’s second-year awe-inspiring hopeful, Christian Ponder.
The good news is that the Vikings of 2012 had a winning season. The bad news is that no one wants to be compared to Christian Ponder.
The Hopeful: Like I said, the Vikings weren’t the worst team in the division last year while throwing out a practice squad with Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. All of that on and off the field nonsense, playing outside at the TCF Bank Stadium while their new stadium is built, and the Vikings still managed a 7-9 season.
Hopefully the Vikings don’t take a step back to 5-10-1 like they did in 2013. Drafting a wide receiver like DeVante Parker or Kevin White, if he’s still on the board, can help with that.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.