With the Vikings off this week by virtue of the 1st-round bye, now is a good time to take a quick look around the division to see what else is happening. We’ll address each team in alphabetical order…
For the 3rd consecutive season, the Chicago Bears missed the playoffs. This year’s absence from the NFL’s 2nd season is perhaps the most painful because of the high expectations that arose in light of the acquisition of QB Jay Cutler. And so the disappointing developments do not come without consequences.
Head coach Lovie Smith avoided the pink slip, but some of his assistant coaches did not. Much of the offensive staff was released, including offensive coordinator Ron Turner, and Smith will relinquish play-calling duties on defense. As a result, Smith and the Bears front office will be hiring a new offensive and defensive coordinator, and that new offensive coordinator will join with Smith in hiring new offensive assistants.
We’ll leave the speculation up to others about possible candidates for those 2 jobs. Here are a few other quick thoughts about the Bears as they begin their offseason:
— Injuries sure seemed to have been a huge factor in the Bears misfortunes this season.
— Will the Bears acquire more weapons for Cutler and the passing game?
— Will Orlando Pace return for another season?
It was another painful season in the Motor City, as they Lions increased their win total by just 2 from their 2008 win-less campaign. But it did mark an improvement, nonetheless, under 1st-year head coach Jim Schwartz and the #1 duty of a head coach is to keep the team moving in the right direction.
So Schwartz has the team heading the right direction, in much the same way Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress had his team going after Year 2 – the Vikings were 6-10 in his 1st season and 8-8 after Year 2. Schwartz is saying all the right things in Detroit and that should be a source of confidence for Lions fans.
Here are a few other quick thoughts about the Lions as they begin their offseason:
— Offseason rehab will be priority #1 for 3 crucial pieces of the Lions offense – TE Brandon Pettigrew, RB Kevin Smith and QB Matthew Stafford. All 3 players suffered knee injuries and are in the midst of rehabbing those injuries for next season.
— It sounds as if QB Daunte Culpepper won’t be back with the team. Where he goes might be worth watching but who Detroit looks to as a backup QB will be important.
— With the 2nd-worst record in 2009, the Lions will have the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft. What position will they address?
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are currently preparing for their Wild Card matchup against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix. Last week, of course, the Packers thrashed a hardly-trying Arizona club that didn’t have much for which to play. Much more is on the line this week and in my view and I’m preparing for a high-scoring affair that will be fun to watch.
It seems as if the Packers and, specifically, head coach Mike McCarthy are well aware of the fact that a different, more motivated Cardinals club will likely show up on Sunday afternoon. Green Bay is hot heading into the playoffs having won 7 of their last 8 regular season games and they’ll look to continue that trend this weekend.
Here are a few subplots to watch this Sunday afternoon when the Packers and Cardinals kick it off:
— Green Bay was +24 in turnover margin this year and if Arizona is to advance to the Divisional round they’ll have to win the turnover battle.
— Sunday will mark the 1st playoff start for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Arizona QB Kurt Warner is a playoff veteran.
— Green Bay has the league’s #1 rush defense and I don’t expect Arizona to challenge them too often on the ground. It will be fun to watch a great passing team (Arizona) go against a defense that has prepared for the pass all week (Green Bay).
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 9 Comments »