NFC North Over/Unders: Is Chicago Supporting Justin Fields?

Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Preseason Week 3 - Bryan: Welcome back to Football Outsiders' penultimate over/under review! Three cardinal directions down, one to go, which means this week we get to handle the North, which we have put off for last because the Lions and Steelers play a nationally televised preseason game this Sunday and for no other reasons.

Cale: The Lions have graced televisions nationwide for the last few weeks during their run of Hard Knocks, and that's arguably some of the best press the NFC North has gotten this season. It has been an oddly quiet offseason for the division. Beyond the Davante Adams trade, the biggest story out of the NFC North has been Aaron Rodgers riding an ayahuasca ceremony to two straight MVP titles. While that's a wild story in its own right, the fact that no other news from Minnesota, Chicago, or Detroit has surpassed is is, uh, something.

Bryan: Well, let's find out if we need to alter our own perceptions of reality if we're going to find a way for one of those other clubs to break the Packers' streak of three straight division titles.

Chicago Bears (6.5)

Bryan: I have, in fact, seen worse projected starting receiver trios than Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Byron Pringle. I did have to think about it for about a half an hour, but I don't think it's the worst group in NFL history. So, good news there!

Cale: It's a testament to just how all-around bad the Bears are currently. The reports I have seen out of Bears camp have really lauded Justin Fields' preseason play thus far. So the fact that this is the receiver corps Chicago is trotting out because they had so many other areas to address emphasizes that the Bears are down bad in 2022.

Bryan: Now, I do believe in Justin Fields, so I think there's potential here for him to take over and help the Bears clear this line with ease. The problem is that the new Bears front office apparently does not believe in Justin Fields, as they seem to be starting a rebuilding effort from scratch despite already having a highly drafted quarterback prospect. It's not like Fields was Josh Rosen or something last year, and when things worked for him, they worked well. So, to help bolster his growth as we enter Year 2, the Bears have traded away Khalil Mack, have alienated Roquan Smith to the point where he's asking for a trade, plan to start a fifth-round rookie at left tackle, and have … that receiver corps to work with. Other than that, everything's coming up Fields.

Cale: I think some of the care (or lack thereof) around Fields might be just the fact that the Bears are so weak at so many positions. I mean, let's be realistic about the options they have given him, but Chicago did go out and get two free-agent receivers and drafted a third for Fields to throw to alongside Mooney. They also used most of their draft to bolster their defense and offensive line, which across the board needed work. Chicago was without a first-round pick, anyway, because the Bears traded it away to move up for Fields last year.

Whether he has the help or not, Fields is going to be on the roster next year on a cost-controlled deal. Chicago can continue to build out this roster another year while Fields works with what he's given. Is it good practice? Absolutely not. But it's one way to operate, and with Smith trying to force his way out, that's another hole that needs to be filled on a porous defense.

Bryan: Now, that does interest me. The Bears were 13th in defensive DVOA last season, and our projections have them 10th this year. Now, that assumes Smith is actually playing in Chicago, but the idea is that the Bears have traded some of their high-end players for a more smooth talent curve across the back of their defense. They added Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon in the draft, meaning they can actually go into nickel occasionally as Matt Eberflus would like to do without getting immediately exposed. And while losing Mack and most of the interior line this offseason isn't ideal, you can justify each and every move Chicago has made on defense. Doesn't mean they'll all work, mind you, but at least I can see the plan on the defensive side of the ball.

Cale: I see the plan, sure, but I just don't know how that plan looks Year 1. It's a defense that is losing a lot of pieces (and potentially one more), integrating a lot of young talent while also changing things up schematically. A lot of those elements serve as force multipliers for me; I just don't have the same optimism as you or our projections in this defense taking a step forward this year.

Bryan: In my ongoing attempts to use DVOA in ways that it really, really shouldn't be used, here's a stat for you. While Fields was 32nd in passing DVOA last season, he jumps up to 13th when you look only at successful plays. Yes, it's very much "well, other than that how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" but there was upside when Fields had time to throw and receivers who could catch. His ALEX on successful plays was 2.0 and his average depth of target was 10.4 yards, both in first place by leaps and bounds—Fields played well when given time and space to air the ball out, but failed basically in every other instance. And yes, that means he had the league's worst passing DVOA on plays that failed, as the "2-yard completion on third-and-6" sort of scheme wasn't really in Chicago's playbook, while the "embarrassing sack and/or interception" was more their speed.

Maybe I'm blinded by the deep ball, but I think the combination of Eberflus' chops on defense and Fields' potential on offense will bring the Bears over this mark, if only just. It's the hardest line for me in the division, but I'll choose optimism. For now!

Cale: 6.5 wins is a low number, especially for a team playing an average schedule. Getting the NFC East could definitely inflate those numbers. I feel like taking the under here is essentially a bet against Fields, which I don't want to make. I loved him out of college and still think he's got big-time upside if he can make some steps forward in his development. That being said, the rest of this roster is bad. This isn't an offense I trust to win a shootout, and this isn't a defense I trust to win a low-scoring bout.

If I was placing this bet, I'd wait to see Chicago play Cleveland in their dress rehearsal on August 27. I need to get a sense of what this team actually looks like—even if it's a quarter of a meaningless preseason game—just to see how it is going to function on a base level. There are so many slow-plays for the future and "let's see if this works" short-term roster calls for me to make an educated guess.

That's the thing about preseason over/unders: you have to make the bets before you see them play real football.

Bryan: They're very particular that way. I'd much prefer if we could see all 18 weeks and then place our bets, but I'm still waiting for a sportsbook to offer that option.

Detroit Lions (6.5)

Bryan: I have yet to decide whether or not Dan Campbell is a good coach, but I'm definitely a believer that Dan Campbell is a fun coach. In Week 8, can we cancel the action in the Lions-Dolphins game and just have Campbell and Mike McDaniel have dueling press conferences?

Cale: He's definitely a fun coach—he got his own section in the Football Outsiders Almanac 2021 Year in Quotes after having the Lions job for all of three months. But I think he's a good coach too. I keep thinking about that game against the Rams last year. Campbell was willing to pull out all the stops to get an advantage against a way better opponent. Multiple onside kicks in the fourth quarter, going for it on fourth-and-long … not only is that good process to try and take down a superior opponent, but trusting your team to take on that risk is great for team chemistry in itself.

Well, it's at least better for team morale than whatever Matt Patricia did last time around. Players heading for free agency after his first season popped champagne in the locker room on the last day because they knew they'd never have to play for him again. We have come a long way, Detroit.

Bryan: Yeah, Patricia is arguably the worst coach in Lions history, and that's saying a lot considering Lions history.

Campbell does seem to have the Lions pointed in the right direction, but they were so far from contention by the end of the Patricia era that it could take years just to claw their way back to mediocrity. That being said, I like that they gave so many snaps to rookies during their "feisty terrible team" year last season, and the extra development time given to Amon-Ra St. Brown, Penei Sewell, Alim McNeill, and so on and so forth really did pay dividends. Heck, St. Brown was a regular in the Loser League at the beginning of last season before becoming a top-20ish receiver by year's end. Arrow pointing up, there.

This year's rookie class looks strong too. Aiden Hutchinson was my favorite player in this draft class, which I know isn't exactly a reach for the guy picked second overall. And I have high hopes for Jameson Williams when he gets healthy. In fact, between Williams, St. Brown, D.J. Chark, and T.J. Hockenson, there's some significant upside for this receiver corps. It's just too bad it's Jared Goff being the one asked to unlock them.

Cale: "Unlock" is the key word there. Goff is a serviceable stopgap. He's a known commodity, and he's not elevating anyone's ceilings. But Goff also finished 20th in both DVOA and DYAR last year with a worse skill position group. I recognize the issues. If there's anything short of a perfect pocket, he drops way down. Goff was the worst passer in the league outside of the pocket. He also posted a -32.6% DVOA on third and fourth downs, and his aDOT plummeted to 6.6 yards once he left Los Angeles. But a quarterback on the fringe of the top 20 is still a tolerable quarterback! In the short term, at least.

With a better group of players around him, hovering a notch or two under league average might not be all that bad, either. The Lions don't have Super Bowl aspirations right now, they just need confirmation that what they are building is showing results. If Goff can just hold water, I surprisingly like the upside of this team.

Bryan: I don't like the upside of this team, but I do like Goff as being the "eh, good enough" player at quarterback while everything else builds and develops. I know what Goff did in Los Angeles, but I do feel that having Goff kind of gives Detroit a hard cap on how good they can be. But I also doubt he's going to be some kind of massive disaster, so I'd phrase that optimism as liking the high floor of this team. I think they're going to continue their trend from last season of being a tough out, only at a slightly higher level—going from jobber to jobber to the stars, to steal a wrestling concept here. That means I'm going with the over, and I'm more confident about it than I was with Chicago.

Cale: Detroit has one of the easiest schedules in the league, which makes this call easier for me. I just like what Detroit is building right now. If you look at their schedule, a lot of the teams they play are in varying stages of rebuild: Jacksonville, Chicago, the Jets, Carolina, Seattle. For the most part, I like the Lions' process better than almost any of theirs. That, plus Campbell's commitment to try and win games his team shouldn't, makes the over an easy call for me. Kneecaps for everyone!

Green Bay Packers (11)

Bryan: The Last Dance ended with a familiar stumble, and now Aaron Rodgers and company are refusing to leave the floor. Last Dance II: Electric Boogaloo. The Revenge. Cruise Control. The Squeakquel.

Cale: This offseason has been a Long Strange Trip for Green Bay. After Adams opted to star in Dude, Where's My Carr?, the Packers were left Fear(ful) and Loathing in Green Bay … OK I'll stop.

We already addressed what losing a top receiver could look like for a team in our rundown of Kansas City's over/under, but there are some major differences in the two cases.

First: Rodgers and Adams played together much longer than Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill had. There was a very established rapport there, so much so that Rodgers was beginning to receive criticism following playoff games for staring down Adams, hoping his longtime target could go out and make a play. The idea that losing Adams could actually open up the offense feels more tangible in Green Bay than it does in Kansas City.

Second: While Kansas City pumped quality fill-ins to the wide receiver position, signing Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster and drafting Skyy Moore, the Packers in my opinion did not do enough to fill the void left by Adams. Their biggest free-agent receiver signing was journeyman and former Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins, and their big draft splash at receiver is recovering from a minor knee scope. If anyone could make this receiver corps work, it's Aaron Rodgers, but I'd posit that the gap between these receivers and the Bears' isn't as big as you'd think.

Bryan: I do know that the Packers fanbase is going crazy for Romeo Doubs, who has had his share of highlight-reel plays in both practice and preseason games, but you're right—there's a lot of uncertainty there. And considering how much Rodgers likes HIS guys at receiver, to the point where trading for Randall Cobb was a whole thing last offseason, I think it really does matter how quickly Rodgers warms up to a plethora of new targets and who he's going to trust when the chips are down now that Adams has left the floor. There's also the issue of David Bakhtiari's never-ending recovery—at time of writing, he still hasn't practiced. (Ed. Note: Bakhtiari finally took part in individual drills on Sunday.) At least Elgton Jenkins is back and looks to be at full strength, but there are more question marks here than we're used to seeing on a Packers offense. I'm fairly sure "we have Aaron Rodgers" is enough to smooth those question marks over, at least in the divisional race, but there are cracks in the foundation.

The betting public seems to be very high on the Packers defense, but we have them just 19th in our projections, as there are a lot of ifs here. Two first-round rookies in Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt being asked to play major roles off the bat, questions at cornerback behind Jaire Alexander, and so on and so forth. I think that the question marks all have potential answers, but it feels a lot to me like Green Bay lined up everything and took their best shot last year but fell short. Maybe their window isn't closed, but it does feel like it's closing.

I don't think I can talk myself into anyone else winning the North, but I can talk myself into going under on this whole-number line. It feels like 10-7 is a more reasonable outcome than 12-5 for this particular Packers unit, and I can't really bring myself to the altered state of consciousness that would have me group them with the tippy-top contenders. Maybe Rodgers can sort me out there.

Cale: Having that whole number to push with makes this feel a lot more comfortable. I'm taking the under too. In a division this easy, any other year I'd hammer this over. There's just a lot of change in that Green Bay air. The receiver corps isn't up to snuff, and while I'd hang my hat on Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, the health of the offensive line is a concern. I'm high on the defense, but you're also right to raise all those questions. It's tough to bet against a team with Rodgers at the helm, but who knows if that's enough for the Packers to boast one of the best records in football?

Minnesota Vikings (9)

Bryan: Our projections really do love the Vikings. We have them 10th in DVOA and eighth in projected wins. Vegas is not so kind. They have the 14th-best Super Bowl odds at +3500, basically at the cutoff between real contenders and pretenders. They're -105 to miss the playoffs in Vegas, while we have them making the postseason 59.7% of the time.

It's a bit odd that we have Minnesota as favorites to make the playoffs after two consecutive losing seasons, which brought about a coaching change. Mike Zimmer was one of the longer established coaches in the league; Kevin O'Connell comes from the very highly regarded "find someone who knows Sean McVay" school of coaching searches. Going from a defensive-first coach such as Zimmer to a McVay disciple would indicate this would be a transitional year. But nope, the model loves 'em!

Cale: At least part of that probably rides on their projected ninth-best offensive DVOA. I think the pieces this Vikings team has in place, at least offensively, will help smooth the transition over. O'Connell can finally be the guy to unlock this offense with all the skill they have on the roster. Justin Jefferson has already called his shot, claiming he'll be the best wide receiver in the league. That's really calling your shot, but with the talent both in this receiving room and among the running backs, O'Connell could be the thing that finally makes it all click. Kirk Cousins is just that: Kirk Cousins. You don't need a lot to push this offense over the top. You're not getting mind-blowing, ceiling-raising production out of Cousins, but he has finished top-10 in both DVOA and DYAR each of the last three years. Finding a scheme that could work from a McVay disciple could just be the final push this offense needs. I don't hate putting a Coach of the Year bet on O'Connell; nothing material has changed beyond head coach. New thing equals reason for new result.

Bryan: There's a strange amount of weight being placed on the reunion of O'Connell and Kirk Cousins. I see that brought up a lot, but they worked together for one year as quarterback coach in 2017 before Cousins left for Minnesota, and that was, by DVOA, the worst year of Cousins' career. It's just weird how much focus I have seen put on that, from The Athletic to NFL Network to the smoldering remains of Sports Illustrated. I guess you have to find storylines somewhere.

Cale: The 18th-place DVOA finish isn't great, but I can understand why it happened when the top two target leaders for Washington that year were Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson. Plus, it's Washington. You have seen the graphic of every good, young head coach working on the staff during those years. That franchise knows a thing or two about wasted potential.

Bryan: I really do hate these whole-number lines. A 9-8 finish and a spot at the bottom of the wild-card race seems just about right for these Vikings. I like the potential of O'Connell and the McVay system coming into Minnesota. I like the addition of Za'Darius Smith on defense and the fit by switching from Zimmer's system to Ed Donatell's 3-4 front. Maybe it's just a case of shaking up mostly old ingredients and displaying it in a new form—Malibu Stacy's got a New Hat! syndrome—but I kind of like the Vikings to lurk around this year. I guess I'll go over, because if the Packers do go under, those wins have to go somewhere, right? But that is a very ambivalent over from me.

Cale: I'm more firmly optimistic than you are on this. I think this is the shake-up the Vikings offense needed to reach that next tier of production. The front seven is solid, and keeping things schematically similar under Donatell should soften some of the growing pains this defense may otherwise go through. Not only do I like the over here, I think the Vikings have a real shot to win the NFC North outright.

A parlay on the Vikings over, division win, and O'Connell COTY is not something I'd actually attach my name to, but it feels like it's within the realm of reasonable outcomes. It almost logically works like a domino effect in my head: If the Vikings hit the over, they would only need one or two more games above that to likely win the division, and if they win the division, O'Connell likely gets the credit! It's the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" for degenerates and Vikings fans alike!


79 comments, Last at 27 Aug 2022, 7:08pm

#1 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 10:48am


I have, in fact, seen worse projected starting receiver trios than Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Byron Pringle. I did have to think about it for about a half an hour, 

Liar! List 'em or I don't believe you. This is just you trying to con us into believing in your Over pick.

Points: 0

#3 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:01am

I wonder if Bryan thought of them too, but my first thought was the 2004 49ers. That team was coming off a post Saints like roster detonation and had to bring in reclamation projects like Curtis Conway. 

In retrospect they had a rookie Brandon Lloyd at the time so maybe it will turn out to be better than this dreck. 

Points: 0

#11 by Bryan Knowles // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:00pm

This may be the subject of an article later this season if the Bears end up as bad as we think (we're still working out the kinks in the schedule, but it looks like I'll be doing a solo column  as a Scramble substitute, so I need all the ideas I can get!) but yeah, the mid-2000s 49ers were the first ones that jumped to mind.  It was 2005 (Brandon Lloyd/Arnaz Battle/Johnny Morton/Jason McAddley) rather than 2004 (Lloyd/Cedrick Wilson/Curtis Conway/Rashaun Woods) that I was thinking of, but yeah, that era in general.

Early '90s Seattle is another contender (Tommy Kane/Louis Clark/Brian Blades/Doug Thomas), but there are also injuries and quarterback concerns to work with there.

Points: 0

#14 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:04pm

I always felt like the 2005 offense was impossible to judge because Smith himself was so horrible. His career thereafter should offer some hope to Bears fans. By dvoa and other metrics, 05 was the worst of that 49ers doom and gloom period, But 04 to me had less talent and better qb play. 

Points: 0

#22 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:30pm

The '05 49ers are interesting because from an "at the time" point of view, yeah, their receivers are godawful: 4th round pick, 5th round pick, end-of-career vet receiver. But that being said, Lloyd did end up being a very deserving Pro Bowl receiver, whereas the only one of the Bears that realistically has a chance at that is Darnell Mooney.

Still not really sure I'd put them below the Bears trio, though. Pretty much all comes down to Mooney.

Points: 0

#23 by Bryan Knowles // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:41pm

Lloyd is one of the more frustrating players I have ever watched. He could catch anything, anywhere -- so long as he didn't have both feet on the ground. His ratio of highlight reel catches to basic, ordinary drops has to be among the highest in league history.

And he did become a deserving Pro Bowl receiver -- exactly once.  He had one season above 1.8% DVOA, and one season ranked better than 40th. One season where everything he was capable of doing came together for one shining moment...and then back to being the at-best-inconsistent frustrating player he had always been.  I'd love to know what was in the water in Denver in 2010, because "Kyle Orton allowed me to reach my full potential" does not feel like a sentence that should exist!

Josh McDaniels managed to squeeze anything out of Lloyd that could be squozed.

Points: 0

#24 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:44pm

There isn't another receiver I can think of quite like Brandon Lloyd. He had 1 season where he was magical in a context that made no sense. One ridiculous outlier season. That makes him the Case Keenum of wide receivers I guess. 




Drew Bennet is another example. If Tom Gower is reading this, I am sure he will agree.

Points: 0

#27 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:55pm

because "Kyle Orton allowed me to reach my full potential" does not feel like a sentence that should exist!

I dunno, Kyle Orton was the best QB that Brandon Lloyd had played to up until then. I mean, he played with him in Chicago, too, but, y'know. Chicago.

I mean, maybe he just got used to catching wild flings from the likes of rookie Alex Smith and Tim Rattay. When the ball went right to him, he was probably like "what do I do now?!?!"

Points: 0

#31 by Tyler S // Aug 24, 2022 - 1:19pm

I'd also nominate the 2013 Raiders as a contender (Rod Streater/Denarius Moore/Andre Holmes) and the 2014 Chiefs (Dwayne Bowe/Albert Wilson/Donnie Avery/De'Anthony Thomas. 

Points: 0

#33 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 1:54pm

Oh, the '13 Raiders definitely look like contenders to me. They're a bad receiving team the year before, and lose 2 major contributors (Heyward-Bey and Myers) and replace 'em with... a sixth-round TE and, what, an undrafted Cowboys castoff? Yeah, that's probably actually worse.

The '14 Chiefs I'm not entirely buying because they also had Kelce who they obviously had high hopes for. Yes, yes, not technically part of a "receiver trio" but c'mon.

Points: 0

#76 by Happy Fun Paul // Aug 25, 2022 - 2:21pm


Someday we'll find it, the Dwayne Bowe connection...

Points: 0

#32 by andrew // Aug 24, 2022 - 1:35pm

Their Trio of Warfield, Briscoe and Twilley had 30, 29 and 2 catches respectively, unless you include tight ends where you could add Mandich's 24 catches).


I mean, it features a hall of famer, and they won a superbowl....



Points: 0

#64 by Ambientdonkey // Aug 24, 2022 - 9:10pm

The 2017 Bears receivers were worse simply because they didn't have Darnell Mooney. The rest is about the same quality. 

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#38 by Robopunter // Aug 24, 2022 - 2:45pm

2004 feels way too late for Curtis Conway to have still been playing, although I do remember his Jets season for some reason.

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#7 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:32am

2016 Rams?

They threw 111 passes at Kenny Britt. Both Britt and Lance Kendricks had "career" years, because they were the most football-like substance to throw at.

Points: 0

#9 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:54am

Eh, I mean, you could've squinted and said that team might have talent, but the Jeff Fisher Experience just kindof washes everything away anyway. Tavon Austin was a former first-round pick (a bad one, but still! breakout candidate!) and in hindsight they had a rookie Tyler Higbee too.

They also ended up having career years because the Rams were so bad they had to pass a bunch.

Well, I mean, relatively a bunch. We are still talking about Jeff Fisher.

Points: 0

#12 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:01pm

You can go a few years earlier, too, where the best receiver was either the corpse of Torry Holt or an old Brandon Lloyd.

The Rams had terrible receivers for like a decade.

Points: 0

#25 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:45pm

The '11 Rams (the year they traded for Lloyd) lost Amendola (who was their leading receiver the year before) in week 1. And saying "old Brandon Lloyd" there is a bit silly, he was coming off of a year where he led the league in receiving from Kyle Orton.

I still think I'd rank these Bears worse since I don't think any of them are ever going to have a career even as good as Amendola's (since I don't think a team worth a damn will pick them up).

And the Rams at the end of Holt's career did pick up Donnie Avery at the top of the 2nd, so it's not like they intentionally had trash receivers.

Points: 0

#26 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:50pm

Well sure.

But being a high draft pick didn't make Charles Rogers a good receiver, either.

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#28 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:56pm

Yeah but that's a retrospective view. The Bears are intentionally going into the season with garbage. When you grab a receiver high in the draft you don't expect them to be crap.

Points: 0

#30 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 1:16pm

I don't understand why it matters to whether or not a team's receivers sucked to whether or not the team expected them to suck.

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#34 by BigRichie // Aug 24, 2022 - 2:19pm

The Bears' receivers this year haven 't sucked at all. Not one single bit. We're all Projecting! them to. And that's what we're talking about here, how rarely teams have willingly gone into a season with receivers that project this poorly.

Points: 0

#39 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 2:48pm

I'm really curious as to why the Bears did this and I do not accept the idea that it's because ownership has an anathema to the passing game. To that end, surely every coach in the NFL is aware by now that the passing game is by far the most important aspect of a team.

To me there are two possible explanations for this. The first is that this coaching staff and front office have zero interests in developing Justin Fields. That essentially assuring him for failure is the quickest way to palatibly move on with minimal backlash.

The other alternative is that all of the free agent good wide receivers were asking for way too much money to join the Bears. And that effectively it made no sense to commit huge dollars to second rate receivers and so this was unfortunately the situation they found themselves in.


I'm inclined to believe The first explanation. I get a sense that fresh coaching hires do not want to tie their futures to prior regime's choices

Points: 0

#41 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:03pm

I'm super-confused as to why you don't consider the possibility that the Bears front office actually thinks Darnell Mooney is a top receiver (he racked up 1000 yards last year!), and St. Brown and Pringle were just overshadowed by Adams and Hill and are going to end up being total steals. And that Robinson just absolutely wasn't a good receiver and that the Rams are just throwing away money.

I never attribute malice to what I can attribute to incompetence.

Points: 0

#43 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:10pm

Sure thats possible. I find the other explanation more reasonable. I've seen way too many times coaches just prefer the nuclear detonation choice when it comes to their inherited rosters than to actually bend their schemes and style to what little assets they have on hand. 

Points: 0

#45 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:15pm

Yeah, but they don't pointlessly keep them on the team. If the coach is already planning to move on from Fields, trade him and move on. His value ain't gonna get higher by giving him trash to work with. The whole "gotta keep a guy more than 1 year" glass ceiling got broken with Rosen and it worked out fine.

And if they're doing this to make it palatable to the fans/ownership... well, I mean, OK, but that just tells you they're terrible coaches/owners to begin with and it doesn't matter what they do anyway.

Points: 0

#46 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:26pm

I think if he had stated his intentions with Fields honestly with ownership, he probably wouldn't have gotten the job. Its pretty hard to tell Ownership that you dont want the QB you just traded two first rounders for. Yes, Rosen was shipped off after 1 year but thats a pretty extreme decision and the team had the number 1 overall pick. 

Btw, this idea of jettisoning players who aren't "your guys" is fairly common in the NFL. Sean McDermott pretty much did exactly this and everyone thinks hes a great coach. 

Points: 0

#48 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:31pm

Its pretty hard to tell Ownership that you dont want the QB you just traded two first rounders for. 

If he's having to hide stuff from ownership, again, none of this matters. It's not going to work.

Again: jettisoning players is fine. Actively not giving them a chance to succeed's a totally different thing. Doesn't make sense. Waste of resources.

Points: 0

#52 by KnotMe // Aug 24, 2022 - 4:03pm

Wouldn't not developing a first round QB you traded to move up for get you fired?  Maybe they just had so much that needed improvement that they didn't get to WRs or didn't find anyone with a price they could deal with. I guess you could say they are bad at evaluating WRs, but I don't think that is the same as intentionally not improving. 


Anyway, even if you wanted to dump Fields getting some WR for your guy would make sense. 

Points: 0

#50 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:53pm

The whole "gotta keep a guy more than 1 year" glass ceiling got broken with Rosen and it worked out fine.

I'm not sure the Cardinals do that if the best QB in 2019 was Will Grier instead of Kyler Murray, like it was this year.

Points: 0

#70 by Pat // Aug 25, 2022 - 10:14am

While draftable QBs were pretty garbage this year, free agent/tradeable ones definitely weren't. Obviously we can't know if Chicago tried to get one of the available free-agent QBs but the Bears were one of the teams that Wilson was willing to accept a trade to and I don't think I heard anything there. And I have to imagine that if the Seahawks had the same two offers and were choosing between Lock and Fields they'd take Fields in a heartbeat.

Points: 0

#40 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 2:57pm

Exactly. We're sitting here with a prospective, not retrospective view. You need to look at the other teams in the same view for comparison. The Bears receivers could come out and have great years, but that wouldn't change the fact that from an outside perspective it looked incredibly dicey. In some sense it'd make it more amazing.

Finding years where teams ended up with dreck receiving yardage because a completely reasonable pre-season plan turned to trash is a different thing.

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#44 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:11pm

That's injury, though, they lost Meredith (who was a starter) in the preseason for... well, forever. Yeah, I mean, he was only a 3rd year UDFA WR but he was a projected starter and basically was the same as Alshon Jeffery the year before. I have my doubts as to how well it would've turned out, but still. Injury.

I'll buy the '11 Bears though.

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#35 by DSafetyGuy // Aug 24, 2022 - 2:22pm

This year's crew may not even be the Bears' worst trio. In 2011, Johnny Knox and Roy Williams had 37 receptions each, Dane Sanzenbacher 27, Devin Hester 26, and Earl Bennett 24.

At least Kendall Wright had 59 receptions in the aforementioned 2017 season... along with Josh Bellamy 24, Dontrelle Inman 23, Daniel Brown 13, and Deonte Thompson 11.

Just... sigh.

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#36 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 2:34pm

In 2011, they had a HOF candidate WR and a professional veteran in Roy Williams!

\Williams was actually a pretty solid WR1 on some terrible Lions teams. Not sure what happened to him in Dallas. Maybe Jerruh mixed his Roys Williams up and was playing the horsecollarer at WR.

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#37 by IlluminatusUIUC // Aug 24, 2022 - 2:43pm

The 2017 Buffalo Bills opened the season with Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, and Brandon Tate as the top 4 wideouts.

Our best wideout stat line from that season: Deonte Thompson (Who?! Exactly) with 27 catches for 430 yards and 1 TD.

This team made the playoffs.

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#47 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:29pm

Zay Jones was a second round pick, though, so while it was stupid to believe he'd contribute quickly it wasn't like, epically stupid. If you think about it, Matthews plays the role of Darnell Mooney, Thompson is like, I dunno, pick one of St. Brown or Pringle. Jones at least might give you some hope. I know. It's a stretch. But c'mon.

They also did trade for Benjamin in the season so they did know they kinda sucked.

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#51 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 4:00pm

I forgot how bad that receiving group was. Watching their last few games, including the Peterman Error, I've never seen a group of receivers so bad at, well... receiving. They just could not catch a ball.

\yeah, Zay was a 2nd rounder, but his career is perfectly consistent with his draft slot. Draft picks aren't worth as much as people think, because everyone forgets the faceless scrubs who never amount to anything and aren't public busts.

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#58 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 6:46pm

Yes, but when things weren't developing like they wanted, they traded for another receiver. Who totally didn't work out, but again, process, not results. I'd probably edge them over this year's Bears just for potential, but not freaking much.

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#79 by hifidelity // Aug 27, 2022 - 7:08pm

Prospectively, I'm not sure you have to go further back than the '21 Lions.   Worse than the '22 Bears in terms of expectation.

Say what you will about Tyrell Williams or Breshad Perryman who the team brought in for cheap and who were both lost to injury and incompetence before the season, the Lions went into '21 starting a 4th round rookie and a receiver whose previous career high in receptions was 9.

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#2 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 10:58am

"but I'd posit that the gap between these receivers and the Bears' isn't as big as you'd think"

This statement perfectly captures the value of an elite quarterback. Take Rodgers off this team and put in Justin Fields and we'd have the same reaction to this receiving core.

Of course the Packers have a really top notch offensive line compared to the Bears, But the whole point of elite quarterbacks is they smooth over rough edges and or render them near nuances rather than impossible hurdles.

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#4 by ChrisLong // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:06am

Devontae Wyatt hasn't done much in Packers camp and preseason. Jarran Reed will start ahead of him for sure. So to me that actually negates one of the questions about the Packers D, bc they have an established, probably middle of the road vet rather than a rookie unknown.

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#67 by techvet // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:08pm

I didn't see the Saints preseason game but Nagler thought Reed (and Gary) did quite well.

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#74 by ChrisLong // Aug 25, 2022 - 11:12am

Yeah I've seen similar sentiments from others too, I think. It is not good that Wyatt seems to be mediocre so far, but the Packers look to have good depth along DL so it shouldn't impact much this year.

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#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:23am

It's just too bad it's Jared Goff being the one asked to unlock them.

Goff is a very accurate barometer for the rest of the offense. He's maybe the perfect QBs for a young, shitty team -- because you know exactly what you have with Goff as QB -- he's not raising anyone's ceiling or lowering anyone's floor. They are who you think they are.

\letting him off the hook

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#6 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:28am

Our projections really do love the Vikings. We have them 10th in DVOA and eighth in projected wins. Vegas is not so kind. They have the 14th-best Super Bowl odds at +3500, basically at the cutoff between real contenders and pretenders.

And that's basically who the Vikings are. Good enough to comfortably fill out the bottom of the playoff slots without being a real threat to win a title.

For all we make fun of them, it's a talented team who can hang around with nearly anyone. We just don't like them because they're kind of boring.

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#8 by Pat // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:44am

As I've said before, it's because it's like the Vikings just don't commit to anything. They're seemingly always retaining the possibility of completely overhauling the team in the next 1-2 years. That just hamstrings you because you end up spending more money for that. I mean, either that or the owner's cheap/dumb and doesn't want to outlay the money in escrow for the guarantees, but that seems weird.

I mean, they're going to end up spending more money on Kirk Cousins from '18 to '23 than the Seahawks/Broncos pay Russell Wilson over the same span, and if memory serves, more than Green Bay was scheduled to pay Rodgers, too before the "we're so so sorry" extension.

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#56 by Will Allen // Aug 24, 2022 - 6:36pm

The Vikings are also an interesting example of the drawback in having a defensive oriented head coach. If that head coach is decent at hiring staff (and Zimmer was reasonably good),he ends up constantly needing to hire a new offensive coordinator, because successful offensive coordinators are the most likely head coach hires. Zimmer lost two o-coordinators that way, and one to health, and had one o-line coach die just as camp opened. Defensive coordinators don't get hc jobs as frequently,it seems to me, so a offensive oriented hc gets more stability on the opposite side of the ball.

Toss in the injuries to his defensive linemen in his last couple years, the historical injury bloodbath the Vikings o-line had in the middle of Zimmer's regime, the fallout from the Bridgewater knee explosion, and the bad luck of having the pandemic affected salary cap dealing with the Cousins contract, it's pretty reasonable to say Zimmer had well below average luck. If the Vikings have good luck this year, and win the division, the yappers will be talking about how it's due to a coaching change. As usual, the yappers will at best be half right, and maybe a good deal less.

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#10 by Jetspete // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:59am

I like that the Lions play hard for Campbell, but do you really want a season long ticket expecting Goff to lead a rebuilding roster to 7 wins? If Fields improves, that means the Lions only have the better quarterback in 2, maybe 3 games. I could see a path to 7 wins, but I would probably want an alt under 5.5 instead of the over.

sharps have pounded the Bears under and I’m inclined to agree with them.  I liked it better at 7 with juice, but I just don’t see how this roster is going to win 6.  


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#13 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:04pm

They could have the better QB in about half their games. By DVOA, for this year, anyway.

They get the Dolphins, Jets, Jags, Seahawks, Giants, Panthers, Commanders, and Bears twice.

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#15 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:09pm

Every season, I like to do a mental exercise of picking the team that I think is the least talented and most talented and then comparing that answer at the regular season finale. Almost never have the teams I picked ex ante equaled the team I pick ex post.

Anyways, I haven't yet decided on this, but I am heavily leaning to the Bears being the least talented team in the league. You just look over this roster and I am not sure what you have. I like Eberflus as a defensive coach, but that doesn't mean it will translate as a head coach. Rod Marineli is/was a great defensive coach and you can ask Lions fans about him. 

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#16 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:12pm

Marinelli was better than Patricia.

\Maybe better than Morningweg, too.

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#18 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:17pm

Well, by wins, its kind of hard to make that case!

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#20 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:21pm

Marinelli was useless and in over his head, but the players didn't viscerally hate him like they did Patricia.

Patricia not only burned bridges, he took a shit off the ledge onto the burning remains.

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#68 by theTDC // Aug 25, 2022 - 2:47am

Okay, I’ll make my most/least talented roster picks right now, to have a public record to be held to.

My heart says Rams, but my head says the Bills are the most talented roster this year.

As for least talented, that has to be the Falcons. There are other contenders to be sure, especially the Texans, but the Falcons are just a total mess. 

We’ll see what I say at the end of the year. Last year I would have probably picked the Chiefs for most talented, and the Texans least talented, which wouldn’t have been so bad.

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#72 by theslothook // Aug 25, 2022 - 10:58am

The Falcons are a good choice, although Kyle Pitts is miles better than anyone I can name on the Bears offense.

I was initially leaning towards the Bears, but a friend of mine convinced me to pick the Giants. 

As for most talented. Including the QB, I would probably agree with the Bills, but I'll go against the grain and pick the 49ers.

For the record, last year my picks were the Bucs for most talented and the Texans as well for least talented.





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#77 by theTDC // Aug 25, 2022 - 4:06pm

Bills and 9ers are great picks. If Trey Lance turns out to be a top 10QB this year, I think the 9ers are probably the most talented roster. Still, that’s a big ask of him.

And I totally forgot about the Giants. They’re right there neck and neck with the Falcons.

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#17 by riri // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:13pm

One of the big things that can sink or swim the Vikings this year, that was curiously glossed over, is the offensive line. For the entire Kirk Cousins era it has not been better than 27th in PFF's pass protection rankings, which does not work well with a quarterback whose Achilles Heel has been his performance under pressure. They've invested either a first or a second-round pick on offensive line in each of the past five drafts, and this is what they have to show for it! But coaches think left tackle Christian Darrisaw is on his way to a breakout season, and surely either Jesse Davis or Ed Ingram will be better than Oli Udoh was last year. Maybe this will be the year that "Vikings offensive line" stops being such a liability? That's what they will need if they want to accomplish anything of note this year. And the less we say about the secondary in the name of generating hype, the better ;)

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#57 by Will Allen // Aug 24, 2022 - 6:40pm

Oh,  if they block, the Vikings offense will be very, very, efficient. I have no idea if they'll block.

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#21 by ImNewAroundThe… // Aug 24, 2022 - 12:24pm

Bears 7-10

Lions 6-11

Packers 11-5-1

Vikings 8-8-1

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#42 by Spanosian Magn… // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:06pm

Speaking as a fan: this division sucks. Unders across the board.

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#55 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 24, 2022 - 5:41pm

Agree the division does suck but I actually get the lines and don't think under across the board is that simple. This is part of why Vegas makes so much money of course.

It does but they all get 6 games against each other so everyone can find ways to get 3 wins because even when GB is legit good (and they likely aren't this year) they can still lose to anyone but the Bears now and then and the Bears can feel like they can steal some against Detroit and MN and MN rightfully feels like they have a chance to 5-1, etc.

Then they all get 4 games against the NFC East. All of them should have a chance against the Giants and Commanders. MN and GB should be even or favorites against Philly and have a punchers chance with Dallas. So everyone feels like they should get at least 1 win there so now everyone is at at least 4 wins.

Then they all get to play the AFC East. All of them should have a chance against the Jets and Dolphins which includes the Jets and Dolphins so it feels like all of them should have a chance at winning at least one of those and MN and GB should have a solid chance against NE and a punchers chance against Buffalo. Again every team will feel like it should get at least 1 win from that set and now be at 5.

  • Detroit gets the Jags and Panthers as well so they can find a way to thinking 1 of those is a win. So that makes 6 feel very doable and what's 1 more? Reality is that they won't go 3-3 in the division and will likely lose to one or all of Jets, Giants, Jags, and Panthers. Since the line is 6.5 under feels very safe.
  • Chicago gets the Texans and Falcons as well so they can find a way to thinking 1 of those is a win. So that makes 6 feel very doable and what's 1 more? Same as with Detroit just replace Jags and Panthers with Texans and Falcons. Again under feels very safe.
  • Minnesota doesn't have another "easy" opponent but likely have a couple more toss ups with Indy and NO. So they have their 5 "wins", 4 toss-ups, and a few more punchers chances and could easily go better than 3-3 in division, etc. A push feels very likely for them.
  • Green Bay doesn't have another "easy" opponent either but they have Rodgers. Rodgers is a weird dude but he has been good at football since before the phrase he is good at football was a big thing and continued to be good at football after the phrase he is good at football was a thing. So of course they feel like they have a chance in every game. I've said before this team could probably get 7 wins against this schedule even if they have to rely on Jordan Love. Asking Rodgers to get you 4 more isn't crazy, you'd need 5 more to beat the line though and I get why that could be too much. So I'm feeling like they are a push as well.

Not a ringing endorsement I know when even being friendly I still land on 2 unders and a 2 pushes, but it's hard to not see wins when they get to play each other and the next worst NFC division. It will be a battle to see if the East is worse than the North. They also get the 2nd easiest AFC division. The south is still the worst AFC division I feel but the West and North both look to be better than the East at least for picking up wins when you are a bad team. I feel it's harder for a Detroit or Chicago level team to get a win vs a likely 8-9 or 9-8 team than it is against a likely 2-15 to 6-11 team. If you are a good team like say Buffalo or LA have 3 shots at teams hovering around .500 vs 2 shots against garbage and 2 shots against 10+ win teams might be easier. That's always been one of those weird things about schedule strength to me if you view from a win probability side. Your quality seems to matter in if the schedule is easier are harder and I've never really seen a reliable way to suss all that out.

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#62 by Noahrk // Aug 24, 2022 - 7:49pm

I don't think it's all unders, but I can't see both Detroit and Chicago going over. I could see one going over, but never both. It would upset the cosmic balance. Dangerous thought, that.

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#66 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 24, 2022 - 11:03pm

Yeah Detroit and Chicago pretty much need to exploit the other team to hit the over. Because either would need to be at least 3-3 in division I figure and let's be honest while one may get a win over GB or MN I don't think they both will get a win on both of them and I don't think either could sweep GB or MN. So they need to sneak their win against one of them and then sweep the other one.

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#71 by Pat // Aug 25, 2022 - 10:23am


Then they all get 4 games against the NFC East. All of them should have a chance against the Giants and Commanders.

I'd agree regarding the Giants, but Washington's not the same level of trash. If you figure Washington's somewhere between 2020/2021 (and they should be, Wentz isn't that bad), I think it'll be a stretch for Detroit and likely will be a challenge for the Bears too. The Bears might get Washington after Chase Young returns, too, so that could make it even more of a challenge.

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#49 by serutan // Aug 24, 2022 - 3:46pm

Not only do I like the over here, I think the Vikings have a real shot to win the NFC North outright.

   Given that you've (barring a tie game) picked the Vikings to at least tie the Packers for the division it feels more like you're really favoring them.

Points: 0

#53 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 24, 2022 - 5:01pm

OK this one confuses me a bit

questions at cornerback behind Jaire Alexander

They just went 75% of a season without Alexander and did well. I think Douglas is PFF's 16th rated CB and Stokes, as a rookie, came in 45th. That's out of 116. So when your 3rd rated CB is in the top 40% of the league that actually seems like a strength, not a weakness. Also from the slot vs wide defense article it looks like GB had the 4th best DVOA against wide receivers in the slot and 2nd best DVOA against wide receivers out wide. That seems to indicate that the cornerbacks even with Alexander injured, were fine as well. Their passing defense issues were more about Tight Ends (27th) and Running backs (13th). That points more to the linebackers and safeties than the cornerbacks. Though it seems that Joe Barry has any competence at all as a DC, and I admit that he might not, that adding a former All Pro cornerback to a solid unit should allow you to do things that help with those issues with TE coverage and still not sacrifice what looked to be good coverage against wide receivers.

The questions at cornerback are more about Alexander and how they are going to work him back in, if he'll be the same as he was before, he seems to be the best fit at slot but that also seems like a weird place to play your best corner, etc. Of course they've already talked about how they are going to be using him and it seems to make sense.


I don't disagree that the defense is full of questions marks. But it's hard to see them being any worse than last season. Even if every what if turns out negative they are still likely as good as last year.

Let's stick with corner to start. Counting on Douglas to repeat his level of play seems bad, but that feels offset by Stokes likely improvement from rookie to 2nd year, something seems fairly common for corners as well as the return of Alexander. Basically just one of the three needs to be better than Chandon Sullivan, and 2 of the 3 need to perform at around the level they have in the past and the unit should be better or basically the same as it was last year. It looks like they were a top 5 unit in the league last year by at least 2 metrics I've quickly checked. Having one really strong unit on the defense can plaster over other weaknesses even if that isn't ideal. Again cornerback feels like the worst unit to single out on this defense when playing the what if game about how this defense will do.

Safety has no depth. This team has experience with the secondary cratering after an injury to a safety (most recently 2011 when Nick Collins had his career ended, then 2001 when an injury ended Butler's career reply 63 if anyone wants more of my thoughts on that). The league has also seemed to figure out how to exploit the weaknesses in Savage's game. Some say that Savage has declined. I'm not sure that's the case, I think it's more that he has some weaknesses he hasn't improved on much and everyone knows how to exploit them now. So I get the worry about that position.

Linebacker has been a weakness on the team forever and while Campbell made it a strength last year it's better to count on him being closer to what he has been in the past, which is serviceable, aka about the same level as the LB corps were before he showed up. Adding a rookie to the mix isn't a bad idea at all but as mentioned counting on a rookie to be a major contributor is a bad idea. So that's a very legit what if.

Defensive line has already been touched on by others. Again been a weakness for a long time, but they've been continually trying to address it with draft and FA (unlike wide receiver), and used both tactics again this off season. The rookie hasn't looked great but the FA looks to be an upgrade. So the DL actually looks to be no worse than last year and very possibly better with the chance of a rookie being able to contribute meaningfully later in the year without being forced to play over his head. Of course being the same as last year is not good because the run defense and pressure rates from the line were not great (bottom half of the league).

Pass rush is basically the same guys. Preston has pretty much performed at the level he's at most of his career and doesn't look in danger of a falling off a cliff. Gary has improved year over year. Last year may have been his ceiling. They were about NFL average and it doesn't seem crazy to expect that again.

Average pass rush with above average cornerback play and average safety play can still be a defense that can win you games, not just keep you in them. The crappy run defense can still lose you games as Packer fans have experienced a lot, but that is harder to exploit. It's been a few years since this team has had the potential for the defense to actually occasionally be a positive. The chance for the defense to still be one that is the reason the team wins a few games is nice. I know that the team has actually won a few games in each of the last 3 seasons because of the defense but this is the first offseason I'm letting myself actually expect that it could do that again.

So yes there is a lot of hype around the defense that has a lot of question marks and those should be picked at. It just felt very odd to see a question that doesn't seem to an issue beyond the normal NFL level of questions about any player improving from 1st to 2nd year or sustaining a peak or how someone will come back from injury. The unusual thing in this situation is adding an All Pro caliber player to a unit and normally that doesn't seem like a weakness.

Points: 0

#54 by theslothook // Aug 24, 2022 - 5:29pm

I am rather bullish on this defense personally. I think corner depth, is as you said, likely a strength and the defensive line feels deep rather than laiden with stars. 

Maybe they are weak at coverage for linebacker and safety, but those areas can be schemed around provided they aren't absolute disasters. And let's face it, those issues don't manifest themselves against the rank and file quarterback whos offense flows primarily through their receiving options. Frankly, a good rotation on the dline and at corner should be enough for the Packers defense. Like you said, they don't really need Alexander to be what he was and they'll still be ok. 

This time a year ago, I was expecting a deep decline from the Packers offense and a slight improvement from the Packers defense. Well the offense did decline a bit, but not as much as I expected(they finished 2nd, but that was a big drop from 2020) and the defense fell from average to below, partially due to injuries.

Coming into last year, I thought Rodgers would fall in between his 2019 and 2020 performances, but 2021 was closer to his 2020.

This time next I will probably be writing the same expectations I am having today (and looking like a fool); but my expectations for this year are a drop in pass efficiency - down between 7th and 11th, and their defensive numbers to climb up between 13th and 8th. On net, that implies I expect the quality of the team to be about as good as last year, trading some offensive efficiency for defensive efficiency. And of course, the special teams cant possibly be any worse than a year ago. 

Add that all up and it puts the Packers once again in SB contention, but perhaps not quite in the catbird seat. They did secure homefield throughout, but their 8th place ranking suggests that was more good fortune than anything. 

And time is unfortunately running out on this iteration of the Packers. Given his age, this may end up being Rodgers' last best chance of winning a title.  

Points: 0

#63 by ImNewAroundThe… // Aug 24, 2022 - 9:06pm

Maybe from a traditional perspective. But with all the evidence nowadays, the slot is harder to play (someone acquire Kenny Moore before the secret is spread)! I've been calling for it since the Josh Jackson days (RIP, Pettine never let him grow at his natural off man outside position)! Jaire is (well was) best suited to operate in space (and blitz/run support) as others didn't have such movement skills/strengths (others had to rely more on the boundary as an extra defender). And such is why the opposite is true, slot receivers being looked down upon (although they shouldn't but generally wide will be harder in most cases).

But yes it is a question how he'll integrated back in as Rasul was the replacement for when Jaire when down, essentially. Although with that said he played much closer to his baseline than Devondre who just played miles ahead of where ever played from...which is indeed another question!

I imagine though Jaire will be back to himself soon and the injuries shouldn't hopefully linger. But in the end I have the most faith in him being good. We'll see about Stokes and Rasul. Hopefully Shemar takes a step. 

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#65 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 24, 2022 - 10:34pm

I agree with everything you've said about the slot. I repeated the comment because it's one that I've heard about Alexander in particular. You answered it. To take some liberties and summarize it with an example, if Cooper Kupp is playing in the slot why the hell wouldn't you put your best corner on him?

The fan perception problem that slot = lesser is part of the issue too. You can find quotes from corners saying they don't want to play inside and be looked at as lesser. It's also not like the Packers haven't put their best corner inside before. Woodson played inside and left the outside work to Tramon Williams and Al Harris/Sam Shields on those early Capers defenses that were so good. Comparing Woodson to Alexander, Douglas to Williams, and Stokes to Harris/Shields isn't a huge departure. 

Also as the slot vs wide articles have shown slot numbers for WR are generally better than wide numbers in recent years. So don't you want to pay attention to that offensive trend and get your better defenders to deal with it? Of course as Pat pointed out and he and I discussed a bit that slot/wide distinction is really more of inside outside. Still haven't seen a definitive answer on how SIS is doing the charting, but my guess is that what Pat says in the edit in reply 4 is correct. Outside is outside the numbers to the boundary side and outside the hash to the field side. Slot is what is not tight but not wide regardless of if there is someone outside you (which is required for the traditional definition of slot because well you need an inside and outside to create a slot to put the receiver in) and then tight is what we think of traditionally as tight. Makes interpreting those stats make more sense and has some relevance here with how to consider the defensive side.

So yes I think if you think of corners as outside and inside coverage guys that having Alexander be the inside guy makes a ton of sense, no real questions and he can play outside and then slide inside when you bring the 3rd corner on. Again just like Woodson did in the past. It does seem there has been some rotation of guys in that spot during practice. In theory going with match-ups makes sense but it also adds to what each player needs to learn. But yeah if you are playing Cincy you have Alexander outside on Chase. If you are playing LA you have Alexander inside on Kupp. If you are playing the Bears who cares all your corners should be better than all their WR. If you are playing more zone maybe you put Douglas inside where he can use his skills to jump the route. Additionally since Stokes and Alexander have more speed to recover and take away the boundary letting them cheat inside a bit to help cut down on some of the route windows inside is something you can play with too. Douglas may be a good option to help with TE coverage too. Since most TE generally won't have the speed or agility to exploit his weakness and at 6'2'' Douglas isn't giving up as much size, won't work with all TE but even crappy TE have been an issue recently and I could see a scheme where Douglas can help with that.

I actually don't see much of a reason to use Stokes as the inside guy. Sure his speed could still be helpful, but even though he improved as the season progressed he still had rookie mistakes and still looked raw and needed to use that speed to make up for it. Just leave him outside, let him keep improving and don't worry about it. Take advantage of what your 2 veterans have already learned and the differences in their skill sets with Alexander and and Douglas. Or just have your 3-4-4 corners be Alexander and whoever then when you bring the 3rd on slide Alexander inside and you're done. They use 3 corners like 60% of the time anyway

Reports from camp are that most all the experiments with the corners have gone well even if details on exactly what they are planning to do with usage have not always accompanied that.

I would be very excited to see Shemar take a step foward too but the unit doesn't need that to happen to still be solid.

Points: 0

#69 by Raiderfan // Aug 25, 2022 - 9:24am

I am curious based on your discussion, since I do not follow them.Does GB play so much man that the distinctions of who plays where are that critical to their defense?  Does GB typically match strength against strength, or follow a Belichek pattern of CB1 against WR2 and double WR1?  Thanks.

Points: 0

#73 by Pat // Aug 25, 2022 - 11:07am

Outside is outside the numbers to the boundary side and outside the hash to the field side. Slot is what is not tight but not wide regardless of if there is someone outside you (which is required for the traditional definition of slot because well you need an inside and outside to create a slot to put the receiver in) and then tight is what we think of traditionally as tight. Makes interpreting those stats make more sense and has some relevance here with how to consider the defensive side.

The only complication is that you can't really compare it with other sites stats, and when people talk about "the rise of slot" or "slot receivers are dominating" or "slot is hard to cover" they're not talking about "SIS slot."

Plus if "SIS slot" is what I think it is (as you said) I think the increase in SIS slot is just a wide receiver numbers issue. When you put more receivers on the field they're going to have to line up in SIS slot more often just due to physical space. Whereas even if you put 4 receivers on the field, you could end up with 3 in "SIS slot" but only one of them has traditional slot advantage (consider a three receiver formation tighter to the field side with the flanker on the boundary).

The issue when you're talking about defense is when you say something like this:

If you are playing the Bears who cares all your corners should be better than all their WR. 

It's not really a man thing: if they drop a receiver in traditional slot he's automatically got space and a easy rub option to the outside (and possibly inside as well), and it doesn't even matter if the outside receiver sucks (he's just interference). It's about how well they can figure out what's going on. So it's not exactly a "your WRs suck, we're fine," it's more of a "your offense is predictable, we're fine." Slot corners in zone (covering more of the mid-to-deep area) need more recognition/agility than pure speed.

But, I mean, I highly doubt the Bears will be running a creative offense with bunches of different formation looks and motions anyway, so functionally you're right anyway.

Also, I feel the need to again point out:

Also as the slot vs wide articles have shown slot numbers for WR are generally better than wide numbers in recent years.

I still believe this is just a selection bias: passes to outside receivers can have a lower chance of success because they have less risk. Passes to inside routes are going to appear better because only really stupid QBs make iffy throws to inside receivers. So it's not that inside routes are naturally better: you just don't see the results of "failed inside route attempt."

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#59 by Jimmy // Aug 24, 2022 - 6:46pm

Can someone clear this up for me, everyone talks about the Pack as though they have a great defense (I thought they had a lot of good players on that side of the ball) but then I checked last year’s rankings and they were the 22nd ranked team. What gives?

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#61 by ImNewAroundThe… // Aug 24, 2022 - 7:35pm

A bit overrated (ie Krys Barnes) and why the hype is probably a bit early.  

Although they were slightly better in epa/play (19th, 16th through the divisional round). 

Injuries were probably the other reason. But everyone deals with those so...I agree top defense is pushing it when, not-even-the-best-UGA-LB, rookie projected to start alongside a guy that played no where near his baseline last year (so how much can you trust it, is Joe Barry, the DC of the 0-16 Lions REALLY that much of a genius?) 

Personally I'll say they finish 9th when it's all said and done. 

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#60 by Dan // Aug 24, 2022 - 7:29pm

Darnell Mooney is a pretty good receiver, so I don't think the Bears are in contention for bottom-of-the-barrel WR corps.

I think I'd take their top trio over the Packers' top trio, although on the whole GB is in better shape with pass catchers with Aaron Jones, Dillon, Doubs, & Watson.

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#75 by Pat // Aug 25, 2022 - 11:19am

I think it's a good point in that when I think about the Bears, I'm more evaluating their whole receiving corps. I mean, they have basically no one, period, not just a bad starting trio. It's one thing to have bad receivers but a solid receiving back and tight end. It's entirely different to have, well, nothing at all.

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#78 by vrao81 // Aug 26, 2022 - 1:06pm

I'll give a shoutout to the 2008 Seahawks, that team had the corpses of Koren Robinson and Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson, and Deion Branch, however all those guys got injured, so you had a 'who's thay guy' list of Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne, Michael Bumpus, Billy McMullen, Jordan Kent, and Keary Colbert starting games. Many of those guys never started another game, or even appeared in another game.

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