Category Archives: NFC North Division

29

July

What Packers Rivals Really Think – Vikings Edition

Packers Vikings RivalryHere’s our second installment of this series that takes a look at the NFC North from the eyes of a rival.  Jesse Cook (aka Bearmeat), one of our regular readers/commenters here, contacted a few friends who are (somewhat) sane fans of our Division rivals and peppered them (pun intended) with questions about our team and theirs.

CCNorseman: Hey, first off thanks for asking me to do this. We’ve had “Ask the Enemy” features on the Daily Norseman before, and they are always a good time. Let me start off by saying, “I come in peace!” And I’ll do the best I can to answer your questions and give an accurate representation of the Vikings fan experience.

1. Let’s start big picture here: What is the fan perception of the Vikings organization in the next 5 years? Where is the arrow pointing? Do you approve of the job that Spielman has done so far?

The arrow is definitely pointing up, and it all starts with the hiring of a new coaching staff. We are all pretty high on head coach Mike Zimmer, and can’t believe how many times he’s been passed over for head coaching jobs. If you’ve seen any part of his coaching style from HBO’s Hard Knocks, then you understand how much energy and enthusiasm he brings to coaching. He is pretty much the antithesis of mild-mannered Leslie Frazier, which is exactly the kind of change of direction this team needs. We’ve also had three pretty strong drafts in a row with 7 first round picks in the last 3 years. Obviously, the jury is still on out all of those drafts for at least a few more years, but preliminarily, things look pretty good. I’ve been a critic of Rick Spielman in the past, but if these most recent drafts turn out to be as strong as we all hope, then that combined with the new coaching staff definitely has this Viking longboat pointed in the right direction.

2. The most important position in pro sports is undoubtedly the QB: aside from 2009 (and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named), that position has also been a pig’s ear for the Vikings in the past decade. Give me reasons why Teddy B can change the Vikings fortunes in that run of bad luck/mismanagement in the near future. Do you think he will succeed where other Vikings QB draft picks have recently failed (cough..Ponder, TJack…cough)?

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23

July

What Packers Rivals Really Think – Bears Edition

Packers, Bears, fans, interview, NFC North, rivalryAs Packers fans, we know how we view our team and their NFC North Rivals. But I’d guess most of us are curious as to how opposing fans view the same subjects. So to find out, one of our regular readers/commenters here, Jesse Cook (aka Bearmeat) contacted a few friends who are (somewhat) sane fans of our Division rivals and peppered them (pun intended) with questions about our team and theirs.

First up, Chicago Bears:

1.     Let’s start big picture here: What is the fan perception of the Bears organization in the next 5 years? Where is the arrow pointing? Do you approve of the job Emery and Trestman have done so far?

  • “In Emery we Trest”.  That seems to be the motto amongst most Bears fans in town these days.  I would say that the fan perception of the Bears is that this organization has finally joined the modern era of football, both from a General Manager and Coaching standpoint.  As every failed player from the Lovie/Angelo Era is shed, more positivitiy takes its  There is much optimism for the near future of this organization as Emery and Trestman continue their growth together.

2.     What do Bears fans think about the Cutler contract? Seems like a t for (so far) middling production?

  • Cutler has and will always be a polarizing topic in Chicago.  There is some reason for optimism for his 2014-15 season.  Another year under the high-powered Trestman offense, an improved offensive line, most of his top offensive weapons back.
  • In regards to Cutler’s contract, I think it’s beneficial for both sides.  For the Bears, it gives them options on how to handle their future at QB.  It’s basically a 3 year deal (average $18 mil a year *cough*), giving the Bears the option to turn it into a 4-7 year deal as they choose.  If they like what Cutler is doing, they can stick with him, or if they don’t they can cut him. Or maybe they bring him back for an extra year as they groom a potential new QB.  So yes, there’s a lot of money to be handed out the next three years, but they have plenty of wiggle room after that.

3.     A lot of Packer fans wanted Shea McClellin at ROLB 2 years ago. Yo got him and he hasn’t worked out at RDE, so he’s now moving to SLB. How does he look?

19

May

Which NFC North Team Added the Most Value in the 2014 Draft?

Ted Thompson build the 2010 winner through the draft. How will the 2014 draft grade out?

The Green Bay Packers have been the team to beat in the NFC North. Have their rivals closed the gap?

The NFC North has largely been the Packers’ division as of late, and the remaining three teams have been playing catch up. Many draft experts have claimed that the 2014 drafts by the Bears, Lions, and Vikings have closed the gap between them and the Packers.

Even our own Cory Jennerjohn wrote a nice piece saying our rivals are ganging up to stop the Packers.

Let’s take a quasi-objective look at how well the NFC North rivals did during the 2014 draft.

Who acquired the best draft value? Did they in fact close the gap below the reigning Packers?

Once again, I’ll use the Draft Trade Value Chart and CBS Sports draft prospect rankings to compare each team. I’ll assign a value of each prospect by taking their CBS Sports ranking and giving them corresponding points from the Draft Trade Value Chart. For example, the #1 ranked prospect will always be 3000 points and the #10 ranked prospect will always be 1300 points regardless of when they were picked. If Jadeveon Clowney (#1 prospect) fell to the Packers at 21, he’d still be worth 3000 points.

Draft Trade Value Chart. Image from SBNation.com.

Draft Trade Value Chart. Image from SBNation.com. Click to enlarge.

Green Bay Packers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

16

May

Cory’s Corner: NFC North is ganging up to stop Packers

Kyle Fuller (17) was one of the best cornerbacks in the draft and the Bears took him 14th overall.

Kyle Fuller (17) was the second cornerback off the board, taken 14th overall by the Bears.

Taking a peek at the rest of the draft picks in the NFC North, it’s apparent where the priorities lie.

Of the Packers nine picks, four of them were offensive skill players. Green Bay went with defense to open up the draft but then quickly reloaded Aaron Rodgers with capable weapons.

While Green Bay’s defense wasn’t exactly dynamite last year, the addition of Julius Peppers is going to change the pass rush and pass coverage.

The Bears knew exactly which way they had to go after suffering through the humiliating 48-yard Rodgers bomb to Randall Cobb — defense. And that’s exactly what Chicago did. The Bears only picked two offensive skill positions and they waited until the fourth round to pick their first one.

While everyone was dogging Detroit for making the questionable first round selection of tight Eric Ebron, the Lions responded after that. They addressed their defensive and offensive lines, secondary and linebacking corps. Just like Chicago, Detroit only picked two offensive skill positions.

That brings me to the worst team in the NFC North last year. The Vikings have a lot of holes — namely at quarterback. But after taking Teddy Bridgewater at the end of the first round, Minnesota only took one more offensive skill position but really stressed its pass rush after losing Jared Allen to Chicago.

So what does this all mean? Everyone, as they should, respects the heck out of the Packers’ offense. They are sick and tired of watching Eddie Lacy run through them and Rodgers pass over them.

Which is why it’s pretty comical that when the other teams in the division collectively loaded up to stop the formidable Green Bay offense, the Packers simply shrug and add even more offense.

And that is why Ted Thompson will always keep you guessing. You may think you have an idea of what direction he is going to go, but he was throwing curveballs for two days — after the obvious Ha Ha Clinton-Dix pick to kick things off.

Obviously the X-factor is Peppers. Without acquiring Peppers prior to the draft, Thompson would have likely beefed up the defensive line or probably traded up to make sure that Ryan Shazier or C.J. Mosley secured the defensive front seven.

30

April

Breaking Down Matt Flynn’s Contract

Matt Flynn led a fiery comeback for the Packers. And in some ways, the tie is a win.Coming into the 2014 season, many fans placed backup quarterback as the top priority of the offseason.  It’s easy to see why, the Packers were a drastically different (i.e. drastically bad) team after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken clavicle and it was only some late season heroics from “Plan F” Matt Flynn that the Packers even had a chance at a playoff run at the end of the season.  The Packers cannot expect to get so lucky that the Bears, Vikings and notably Lions happened to be even worse in 2014 and one of the quickest, most efficient fixes that can be made is having a viable backup quarterback on deck in case something happens to Rodgers again.  Keep in mind, Rodgers is now at higher risk of breaking his clavicle again (which is part of the nature of the injury) and is already at risk of concussions (which he has had a history of in the NFL), so it’s not a wasted effort to have someone ready right now.

In a previous article I have argued that after the initial rush of free agency, it didn’t make any sense to not resign Matt Flynn as quickly as possible.  As a 6 year veteran, his minimum contract was around $730,000, which is fully un-guaranteed and with offseason rosters being expanded to 90, theres no reason to not “waste” a spot on another quarterback in the offseason.  Furthermore I argued that should the Packers feel Scott Tolzein or any rookie quarterback was a better option, they could cut Flynn with basically zero penalty.  Commenters argued that it was possible that it was actually Flynn who was holding up negotiations as he was waiting until after the draft or hoping for a camp injury in order to get a better deal.

Well the financial details of Flynn’s deal were finally made public and I will say that I was a little surprised by the specifics, especially considering the scenario that occurred (more on that below). Below is some 1-year contracts signed by established, veteran backup quarterbacks in 2014:

  • Mark Sanchez (PHI) – $2.5 million total, $750,000 guaranteed, additional $2 million incentive clause
  • Shaun Hill (STL) – $1.75 million total, $500,000 guaranteed, additional $500,000 incentive clause
  • Tavaris Jackson (SEA) – $1.25 million total, $1.25 million guaranteed, additional $750,000 incentive clause
  • Matt Flynn (GB) – $970,000 total, $75,000 guaranteed, additional $100,000 incentive clause
25

April

Packers Face Familiar Start

Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson

The Packers face the defending Super Bowl champions and two divisional opponents on the road in three of their first four games this season

The Green Bay Packers now know not only who they will be facing in 2014, but when.  The NFL announced its full schedule on Wednesday, amidst much anticipation from media and fans.

My first thought in looking at the official and non-leaked schedule was “here we go again”.  For the third straight season, the Packers face a tough opening quarter to their season.  As each team plays 16 games, I’m referring to the first four games.

In 2012, the Packers opened the season with the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears at home, the Seattle Seahawks on the road and the New Orleans Saints at home.

Green Bay fared well over that stretch, considering that the loss to Seattle should have been a victory, and a hard-fought one at that.  They emerged 2-2 after the smoke cleared.

In 2013, the Packers again drew the San Francisco 49ers in game one, on the road.  They then faced the Washington Redskins at home, Cincinnati Bengals on the road and the Detroit Lions at home.

On paper and right now, that doesn’t seem like a tough bunch of games at all.  But before the 2013 season started, the matchup against the Redskins and a potentially healthy quarterback Robert Griffin III loomed larger.  Cincinnati has never been an easy place for the Packers to play and the Lions were a division rival looking to end a 20-year drought at Lambeau Field.  The Packers managed a 2-2 mark against those teams but, much like the season prior, should have fared better.  Had it not been for their late collapse against the Bengals, the Packers would have been a healthier 3-1.

In the case of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the Packers faced a tough slate and came out having been competitive in every game and with a chance to win.  Hopefully in 2014, the Packers can be just as competitive and finish those games that they have a firm hold of.

7

April

Ted Thompson Must Not Care Much About the Center Position

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

It seemed to me to be a no-brainer. The Packers have no one on their roster with more than minimal NFL experience as  a center.  Before yesterday, there were 19 players on the NFL Free Agent Tracker listed at the center position. Surely Ted would be looking to bring in an inexpensive player with real experience at center in case the JC Tretter conversion doesn’t work out.

Well, Ted has done nothing yet and now there are 18 centers on the market, with arguably the best of the bunch now off the board.

The NFC  North Division rival Bears signed former Saints starting center Brian De La Puente on Sunday. De La Puente was a guy I had on my radar as the best target for Ted Thompson to bring in as cheap veteran insurance. Only I had no idea how cheap.

The Bears signed De La Puente for a veteran minimum contract ($735K for a player with 4 years experience) with a $65,000 signing bonus and only $100,00 in guaranteed money. That’s quite a bargain for a player ranked as the fifth best center in the NFL over the last three seasons, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Still young at only 28yrs old, De La Puente turned down the Lions and the Saints to join the Bears and his old offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. While that makes sense, it is odd that he joins a team where he is expected to be a backup, not a starter. Certainly a team like the Packers could have offered him a better opportunity to win a starting job.  But apparently, that offer never came.

With how inexpensively De La Puente came, one can’t say the Packers (Ted) were being cheap, a common refrain heard from many critics. So that leaves several other possibilities:

1) The Packers are dead-on convinced Tretter is their center of the present and the future.

2) The Packers are planning to draft a starting center.

2) Ted Thompson just doesn’t value the center position that highly.

Let’s take a look at the first option. I recently wrote about the state of the center position for WTMJonline.  Here’s an excerpt from that article: