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NFC NORTH: What the head coaches are saying

INDIANAPOLIS – NFC North general managers and head coaches will be finishing up their media sessions here at the NFL Scouting Combine later this morning, but all four coaches from the NFC North have already spoken at the podium.

We heard an update on the status of the four teams in the NFC North from the general managers on Thursday. Here's an update from the coaches:


Headline: What are the big question marks facing Minnesota's decision at quarterback?

The skinny: Head coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings have some crucial decisions to make at the quarterback position in the coming days and weeks. As it stands right now, all three quarterbacks currently on the roster – Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater – are set to become unrestricted free agents when the new league year starts in March.

Zimmer said he, GM Rick Spielman and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo have to answer three questions.

Quotable: "Can Sam stay healthy," Zimmer said. "Is Teddy what he was? Is Case the guy that he was last year or two years ago? That's really the $64,000 question for us. I love all three of them. They are all great people. I'd love to keep all three of them.

"It's going to come down to financial things, financial for them, and maybe some of them don't get to free agency. We still have some time. I know there's a lot of rumors and a lot of different things going on out there, but don't believe everything you hear unless it's from me."


Headline: How much has Matt Patricia been able to get done over last three weeks?

The skinny: The fact that New England played in the Super Bowl meant the Lions and Patricia got a very late start in the hiring process and the kickoff to the offseason. Patricia's been playing catchup, but he says the process has been good so far.

He's through the evaluations of the players, and is on to free agency and starting to look at the draft class.

He says the good thing for him has been the relationship he has with GM Bob Quinn. Quinn's steady footing and knowledge of personnel is helping him immensely.

Quotable: "It's kind of a whirlwind right now," Patricia said. "I mean, it's all been unbelievable from the standpoint of ... everything that you're involved in and kind of trying to make decisions on, which is great.

"Big focus is trying to get through the process. You know, just setting timelines for, 'OK, hey, we're working on this this week. Next week we've got to move on to that.' And really putting a schedule together for the short-term and long-term, looking at big picture where we want to be, say, in a month or two months and then where we are and where we want to be in a week. So, it's been fun and a challenge all kind of wrapped into one."


Headline: How has the role of the coaching staff changed in Green Bay when it comes to free agency?

The skinny: In a nutshell, the coaching staff is much more involved under new general manager Brian Gutekunst than they were under Ted Thompson.

Gutekunst said Wednesday that the Packers will be much bigger players in free agency than they have in the past.

Quotable: "We've gone back to writing reports on our current roster and writing reports on the potential free agents," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

"The way Brian is formatting and preparing for veteran free agency is different than it's been in the past."


Headline: New head coach Matt Nagy is looking forward to accelerating quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's growth.

The skinny: Trubisky took over the reins of the Bears' offense after sitting behind veteran Mike Glennon for the first month.

In 12 games, Trubisky completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Nagy was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City the last couple years. In 2017, he took over play-calling duties from head coach Andy Reid the last five games of the year, and helped guide the Chiefs to a 4-1 record down the stretch and a playoff appearance, scoring 28.6 points per game over that stretch.

Quotable: "He makes some really special throws and he's learning the tempo and the speed of the game. So, for him, just understanding, getting in and out of the huddle, getting up to the line of scrimmage and then make a play, there's a lot to that process. And so, you can see the growth of him as he develops throughout the year that he's improving and getting better and better. For somebody like myself and the staff that comes in, that's really fun."

"What happens naturally is the game slows down for you the more and more experience and you get so that's a benefit that he has going into this next year with us getting him. He has game experience and he is not someone that is coming from the classroom. Just trusting every throw that he makes you can see from where he started to where he finished, that was a big growth."

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