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Green Zone League Articles

Final Piece to the Puzzle? NFC North
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

CHICAGO BEARS

Small Pieces Another case of lots of young offensive linemen needing more time to develop into quality and reliable starters. Jessie Carroll, Ulysses Wasson (Ulysses, what a rockin' name) and Larry Warford have 8 years experience between them with a whole lot of average awareness and mid 80's blocking skills. They're not super raw and have given up 11 sacks this year, all have reasonable strength and acceptable mobility and can only benefit from more time in the job and focused development to help keep Cutler on his feet and the running game moving.
Ryan Williams has put up some surprising numbers this year on two teams, including three 100+ yard games in his last three outings, but can he survive as a feature back with only 59 strength and 74 break tackle? If he takes much more of a pounding his low INJ and TGH ratings may come into play more often, forcing the team to have another solid back available anyhow. In this case I'd say find at least another back with more muscle in the power back style to support Williams as a reliever and change of pace, or replace him as your #1 back at the next viable opportunity.

Final Piece Re-establish a solid wide receiver corps around Jay Cutler to improve the passing game and stretch the field more. Arrelious Benn is the best performer out of those that remain but is struggling to hold onto his catches. His attributes don't jump out at you as extraordinary and isn't really the kind of player you want as your primary receiver. Riley Cooper is a bit taller in the mould of a possession receiver at 6'3" but is having a worse time than Benn at holding catches and making scores (1 TD to 8 drops). With Cutler's arm you'd be remiss not to give him at least one deep threat receiver to help open up the field and the opportunity for long bomb scores.


DETROIT LIONS

Small Pieces [sarcasm]Stafford sucks, he's a balanced passer not a pocket passer so the Lions should amnesty him for peanuts and then get in a raw, under talented youngster to take his place, like Andy Dalton[/sarcasm] Back on topic we take last year's Superbowl loser and see a team struggling below .500 and can only assume that Tom has fiddled with the winning formula. For all those counting there were 21 trades, 14 cuts and 13 signings this offseason for the Lions that resulted in at least 8 new starters. For all the small pieces of mentioned to date this one screams out at me to stop changing the system and team. Most people wouldn't take a Superbowl team and rip it apart this much, especially as there weren't any out dated veterans to upgrade.

Final Piece The defense sucks. 2nd last in points allowed, 3rd last in total yards allowed with the biggest issue being pass defense. The secondary lost a couple of good corners in Flowers and Washington, replaced by Jonathan Wilhite and Jonathan Wade, who aren't slouches but just can't get the job done alongside Jimmy Smith. Yes Louis Delmas has been injured for a chunk of the year but the supporting cast at free safety is useful, plus Major Wright has skills at strong safety. So the player skills aren't really lacking which leads us to think that Cover 2 defensive scheme Detroit have stuck with for the year just isn't working and it's time to change it up. The front 7 are some talented players as well but have only managed 18 sacks for the year, so they're not living up to their pay packets keeping the quarterback honest. With only 4 games having kept the opponent below 29 points something has to be done to pressure the passer and cover the receivers to stop the rampage on scoring via aerial attacks.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

Small Pieces Time to develop some young offensive linemen will be important to keep this team rolling. Marshall Newhouse , Anthony Madison and Quetin Raney are all still pretty raw with the highest awareness being 63 on Raney and all the blocking skills in the low-mid 80's. They're supporting a fantastic running game this year and can only become more reliable with further development.

Final Piece Whilst they are one of the top defences in the league I feel that they can only get better with time. There is a lot of youth in this secondary that will truly excel with some more progression and make it a nigh on impossible task to get anything happening against this team. Jalil Brown, Aaron Williams and even Sam Shields would all benefit from awareness boosts, along with SS Moses Early they make an extremely talented secondary that's doing a great job now and project for an awesome future shutdown capability.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Small Pieces Straight out of the gate it is obvious the youth movement is strong in Minnesota. Following on from this it is easy to say that they need time to develop the bevy of youth they have across the team. HB David Wilson, WR Justin Blackmon, LT Luke Joeckel, LG Gabe Carimi, C Mike Golic Jr., RG Omoregie Uzzi, DT Shariff Floyd, DT Devon Still and MLB Luke Kuechly are all shaping to be quality players, but altogether they need some time to develop their GZL skills to better handle the level of the game. That's a lot of guys to consider for development points at one time, just getting them up to acceptable levels, let alone elite levels. The plus side of this means that the core of the team will be around together for a while, provided the growing pains don't get the better of Anthony and he starts shipping any out.

Final Piece Need to score more as 18.1 ppg is by far not enough, especially when giving up 26.1 and 4 more minutes time of possession. This outfit is the third worst scoring team in the league and 3rd worst for total offensive output. Completion percentage and yardage for Colt McCoy are middle of the pack, whilst David Wilson's output is slightly better compared to league averages. The biggest fall down of this team is the number of turnovers they are committing. McCoy has 16 interceptions whilst scoring only 20 touchdowns and Wilson is 5 to 5 for fumbles to touchdowns. With special teams turnovers included they've given up the ball 32 times this year for the worst record in the league. K Max Goodwin is equal 3rd last for field goals made this year and is only beating the 49ers raw kicker on attempts, so the turnovers are even affecting their ability to make long range scores as well. Odds are they've turned the ball over more times when in scoring range than actually scoring. If they can overcome this inability to protect the ball they'd have a stronger chance of getting more points on the board. This in turn would mean less pressure on the defence and likely a lower score made against them, which ultimately leads to more wins and a better shot at the big time.
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