NFC NORTH

NFC North: How did the Bears, Packers, Lions and Vikings address their biggest weaknesses?

Posted Jun 21, 2013

Tim Twentyman looks at how each team in the NFC North addressed biggest weaknesses this offseason

The salary cap prevents NFL teams from being really good in every area of their football team. It’s just the way the salary cap is set up.

Every team has weaknesses, but the good ones find ways to minimize them.

How did the Bears, Packers, Lions and Vikings address the weakest areas of their football teams this offseason?

BEARS

Weakness: Offensive Line

Key stat: Quarterback Jay Cutler has been sacked 148 times in four seasons.

Additions: Tackle Jermon Bushrod and guards Matt Slauson and Kyle Long.

Comment: Bushrod, Slauson and Long are all likely to start for the Bears’ revamped line this season. Like the Lions, who are also introducing three new starters upfront, everything the Bears want to do on offense will depend on how quickly those players gel upfront.

It's a new offensive scheme and a fresh way of thinking on offense, but the big boys have to be able to lead the way and protect Cutler.

PACKERS

Weakness: Consistency in the run game

Key stat: Only 41.3 percent of the Packers’ rushes last year went for four-plus yards, ranking 26th in the NFL.

Additions: Eddie Lacy (second-round pick), Jonathan Franklin (fourth-round pick)

Comment: Lacy and Franklin are added to the mix of DuJuan Harris, James Starks and Alex Green. The Packers now have a nice compliment of running backs who bring a lot of different skill sets to the table.

The Packers averaged just 106.4 yards per game last year and just 3.9 yards per carry. With the explosiveness of the passing game, led by former MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a nice trio of receivers, any semblance of a balanced and consistent rushing attack would make the Packers offense even more difficult to contend with.

Can Lacy or Franklin -- or both -- provide that?

Glover QuinS Glover Quin with defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham

LIONS

Weakness: Secondary

Key stat: The Lions gave up 13 passing plays of 40-plus yards last season, second-most in the NFL behind New Orleans’ 14.

Additions: S Glover Quin, CB Darius Slay

Comment: Quin’s signing this offseason was a big boost for the Lions’ secondary. Hopefully, his addition helps reduce the number of big plays over the top on the Lions defense.

Slay, a second-round pick, will be in the mix for the starting right cornerback spot once training camp rolls around. The Lions like his combination of size and speed.

Though they’re not recent additions, per say, getting cornerbacks Bill Bentley and Chris Greenwood back healthy will make a difference for the Lions, too. Bentley missed 12 games with a shoulder injury last season and Greenwood the entire year after tearing an abdominal muscle in OTAs.

VIKINGS

Weakness: Passing game

Key stat: When the Vikings attempted a pass of 21-plus yards their quarterback rating was 19.1. The league average rating on those same passes was 76.9.

Additions: QB Matt Cassel, WR Greg Jennings, WR Cordarrelle Patterson (first-round pick)

Comment: That key stat is truly amazing. There will be plenty of pressure on former first-round pick Christian Ponder to elevate the Vikings pass game from the 31st ranked in the NFL last year.

There’s really no reason the Vikings shouldn’t be better in that area in 2013 with the additions of Jennings and Patterson and the fact that Kyle Rudolph emerged as one of the bright young tight ends in the league last year with 53 receptions and nine touchdowns.

They also happen to have that Adrian Peterson guy to keep defenses focused on the run game.