NFC NORTH

NFC North: How did each team improve upon weaknesses?

Posted Sep 2, 2013

With initial 53-man rosters set, Tim Twentyman takes a look at each team in the NFC North and how they improved upon 2012 weaknesses

NFL teams have trimmed their rosters to 53 players and we now have a pretty good idea of what the four teams in the NFC North are going to look like when they kick off the regular season in less than a week. Rosters will still be tweaked from now to then, but the heavy lifting is over.

It's the responsibility of all 32 general managers to improve on the things his team didn't do well the previous year and build on the things they did do well.

With the rosters now set, here's a look at how Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit attacked the things they didn't do well in 2012.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Eddie LacyRB Eddie Lacy (Photo: AP Images)

2012 record: 11-5 (won division)

Big weakness in 2012: The Packers ranked 22nd with 37 runs of 10-plus yards; 21st with eight runs of 20-plus yards and tied for 23rd with no runs of 50-plus yards.

How it was addressed: The Packers revamped their backfield. The selection of Alabama's Eddie Lacy in the second round was a good first step. The team also drafted running back Jonathan Franklin in the fourth round.

The Packers didn't see the immediate results in the preseason, averaging just 3.1 yards per rush, but they feel Lacy can bring some of the big-play potential to their run game when the regular season rolls around.

Big strength in 2012: Big plays in the passing game, on the other hand, weren't a problem for the Packers. They had a quarterback rating of 114.5 on passing attempts that traveled 21-plus yards through the air. That was the third-highest rating in the NFL.

Most significant roster addition: RB Eddie Lacy (second-round pick)

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Greg JenningsWR Greg Jennings (Photo: AP Images)

2012 record: 10-6 (wildcard)

Big weakness in 2012: The downfield passing game. The Vikings ranked dead last in the NFL last year with only 28 completions of 20-plus yards. The league average was 49.

How it was addressed: The Vikings went out and signed veteran receiver Greg Jennings and then drafted explosive rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

Both Jennings and Patterson should give the Vikings a better chance to spread the field and take some of the pressure off running back Adrian Peterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

The Vikings also signed quarterback Matt Cassel as insurance if Christian Ponder struggles.

Big strength in 2012: The Vikings had the most rushes of 20-plus yards (33) and 50-plus yards (7).

Most significant roster move: WR Greg Jennings (5 years, $45 million)

CHICAGO BEARS

Jermon BushrodT Jermon Bushrod (Photo: AP Images)

2012 record: 10-6

Big weakness in 2012: Bears quarterbacks were sacked 44 times, the seventh-highest total in the NFL. Quarterback Jay Cutler has been sacked 156 times since joining the Bears.

How it was addressed: Chicago will start four new offensive linemen in 2013.

The Bears went out and signed Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod and drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round. Long has been terrific in Chicago, according to most reports, and has earned a starting spot on the right side. He's a mauling-type guard and brings some attitude to the line.

Chicago will start Matt Slauson at left guard and rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills at right tackle.

The only returner on the line is center Roberto Garza.

Big strength in 2012: The Bears led the NFL with 44 takeaways.

Most significant roster addition: T Jermon Bushrod (5 years, $35 million)

DETROIT LIONS

2012 record: 4-12

Big weakness in 2012: Their inability to create turnovers. The Lions were minus-16 in the turnover ratio. They lost eight games last year by a touchdown or less. A turnover here or there could have made a big difference in those games.

How it was addressed: The Lions went out and got bigger, strong, faster and more athletic along their defensive line and in the secondary. General manager Martin Mayhew wanted more playmakers on that side of the ball. They went out and signed free agent DE Jason Jones and S Glover Quin and drafted DE Ziggy Ansah and CB Darius Slay.

Big strength in 2012: The passing game. Receiver Calvin Johnson broke the single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards and the Lions had the most passing first downs in the NFL (272).

Most significant roster move: S Glover Quin (5 years, $23.5 million) and RB Reggie Bush (4 years, $16 million).