Disappointment has plagued NFC North teams. Injuries, and poor performance by highly rated players have caused fans to jeer instead of cheer, especially for the 4th place team.
The Minnesota Vikings have the best running back in football in Adrian Peterson. That is the best thing I can say about their offense.
In their endless search for a quarterback, they drafted Teddy Bridgewater in the first round in 2014. The 6 feet 2 inch, 214 pound, Junior was a true star at Louisville. In his 2013 season he passed for nearly 4,000 yards, with 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He is slightly undersized, but fits the mold of the ‘run-option’ QB. My question is; will Head Coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner be willing to change and institute a new style of offense built around Bridgewater?
Those close to the organization claim that Bridgewater may start on opening day. Neither Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder produced for Minnesota in the last two seasons. This will most likely be a ‘rebuilding’ season for the Vikings.
I had to agree with both Detroit Lions’ fans and the ‘experts;’ Detroit’s problems were related to poor coaching. Hopefully head coach Jim Caldwell will get control over an undisciplined roster. Teryl Austin will be the new defensive coordinator, and Gunther Cunningham will be a senior coaching assistant for Austin. They also hired a new quarterback’s coach, Jim Bob Cooter. Hopefully he will revive Matthew Stafford.
Their 2014 Draft was rated as a ‘B’ overall. Their first pick will most likely start for the Lions. He is Eric Ebron, a 6 feet 4 inch 250 pound TE out of North Carolina. He set a single season record last year for tight ends in the ACC with 62 catches for 973 yard, and 3 touchdowns. Their other picks included four on defense, a center and a WR, and lastly a kicker.
Matthew Stafford will now have two big targets in Calvin Johnson and Ebron. Will it be enough to challenge Green Bay and Chicago?
Chicago has one big problem, at least according to yours truly. Bears’ QB Jay Cutler is the model of inconsistency. His most serious problem reveals itself occasionally, when he ignores what he sees and believes his arm is strong enough to make any throw, despite the defense.
The Bears are loaded with talent on offense and defense, but can’t ‘turn the corner’ and be one of the elite teams in the NFL. They added a few players from the 2014 Draft who will most likely fill a few weaknesses immediately.
Head Coach Marc Trestman is an offensive wizard. In 2013 the once feared Bear defense was less than great. That has to change. Additions from the draft, and the signing of free agents such as Jared Allen will make them a better unit.
Aaron Rodgers is among the elite QB’s in NFL history. However, he cannot win a championship by himself. The Green Bay Packers have a talented receiving corps, but can they stay healthy? If Clay Matthews returns to form from his injuries, and Julius Peppers can regain his pass rushing abilities, the defense should show improvement.
The 2014 Draft may have strengthened several positions.
Ha Ha Sean Clinton-Dix, S from Alabama will be a starter on day one. Davante Adams, WR from Fresno State, is being compared to the 49er’s Michael Crabtree. He does not have breakaway speed, but has good size, good hands, and is an excellent route runner. Khyri Thornton is a 304 pound DT out of Southern Mississippi. He fits the Packers 3-4 defense. There is thought that if he bulks up, he could spell B. J. Raji at nose tackle.
A huge advantage for the Pack is Head Coach Mike McCarthy, considered an offensive genius.
For me it’s a slam dunk to predict the Green Bay Packers winning the division. Only a serious injury to key players could change the outcome. Off season acquisitions have only increased the strength of both offense and defense. I will even predict that they will win all six games against their division opponents.
I had a difficult time predicting who would finish in second place. I finally decided to make a prediction based on hope and faith that a coaching change will make the Detroit Lions a far better adversary for their opponents. They have the talent, now they have to learn to play unselfishly as a team.
Chicago will limp into third place. I see them finishing with a 9-7 record at best. Remember, I am not a Jay Cutler fan.
Once again Minnesota will be in the cellar. Problems at the QB position, and the fact that they are rebuilding much of the team, will keep them there for at least one more season.
Next: The AFC North