Hi everyone. Thanks for showing up early. Let's get started.
Packers are a runaway first place, Vikings are an almost assured last place, who takes second?
Bears fans might suggest the Packers aren't a runaway for first place, but regardless, I'd give the second-place edge to the Bears at the moment.
The Bears allowed 49 sacks in 2011. What have they done to improve the offensive line?
They will be getting, they hope, a full season from their top draft choice in 2011, Gabe Carimi. And they've made some changes to limit the five-man protection schemes and 7-step drops that in some cases caused sacks in recent years.
kevin what are the Lions going to do for the need at CB will we see some trades and what playeres would they trade to get the CB's.
At this point, the Lions appear set to give their remaining cornerbacks -- Jacob Lacey, Alphonso Smith, Dwight Bentley and others -- a chance to compete. At this point in the offseason, there aren't many -- if any -- cover corners available via trade or free agency.
Can the Detroit Lions develop a running game this year?
It'll depend on health. If Best and Leshoure ware on the field, they should be more balanced.
Why don't cops in Michigan know enough to look the other way for athletes like they did in the old days? Quit arresting our players, po-pos!!!
Ha. For the most part, the Lions players who were arrested this offseason were in their hometowns, not in Detroit.
Can Marshall Newhouse handle the responsibility of protecting Aaron Rodgers' blind side?
He was up and down last year, but the Packers are absolutely convinced he's up to the task. Perhaps a full offseason and training camp at the position will help him even things out.
Why does everyone assume the bears O-line issues are resolved? Carimi may be healthy but by no means proven.
I don't think anyone sees the issues as resolved. But it's one way that they are different from the way they ended last season.
The Vikings were the worst passing defense on first and second down, but they tied for the league lead in sacks. Have they improved their secondary enough to cover opposing aerial attacks (particularly the three within their division)? Have they improved their team speed in the back seven?
They'll be better with Cook and Winfield as their corners than they were at the end of last season. Both safety positions are major question marks, even if rookie Harrison Smith eventually becomes a good player. So I can't say for sure that they are much better in the secondary, but they have the framework of improvement in place.
What does your travel schedule look like for camp coverage?
I'll pass that along later this week, but I can tell you that the trip will start with the Bears on Thursday. I'll hit three teams in the first 10 days or so of camp.
Afternoon Kev...any update on the Kalil signing? You stated in your Camp Outlook that Ponder may be on his way to taking the necessary steps to improve, but not having the O-Line together at the outset of camp only delay's that potential progression...no?
It would be surprising if Kalil isn't signed by the time of the first practice. There really aren't too many negotiable terms in rookie contracts anymore.
It is really a surprise that a team with a coach who lacks self-control has so many players who are getting into trouble in the off season? Jim Schwartz is hardly a role model for responsibility and personal discipline.
That could be true, but in the end, I can't come down on him too hard for failing to keep his players away from police in the offseason when they were in their hometowns. As I've said before, if the Lions are at fault here, it is their pre-draft character analysis. Did they miss or ignore warning signs? That's where the scrutiny should lie in my opinion.
Do you think the Lions would have cut Fairley or Leshoure if either of their arrests were as serious as Aaron Berry's assault charge?
I am going to guess no, but in the end it's just a guess. Berry was the perfect profile of a player to cut. No financial investment.
With Kalil not going against anyone of real note in the Pac-12, how do you believe he'll fair against the likes of Peppers, Matthew's, Van Den Bosh, or even in practice against JA...?
He went up against Nick Perry every day in practice, and Perry spoke very highly of him during the pre-draft process. That said, it wouldn't be a crime if Kalil struggles at first against players like Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews. They're two of the best in the business.
Do you see Ryan Broyles as the breakout threat across from MegaTron that the Lions need?
I would imagine he'll spend more time in the slot and eat up a lot of that inside yardage that Calvin makes available when he runs downfield.
Any chance the Lions trade for a cornerback? Other than Mike Jenkins who else is movable? Jerry Jones still feeling burned by the Roy Williams trade?
Anything's possible. But teams don't usually give starting-caliber cornerbacks away. If someone is "available," watch out.
Do you think that Nick Perry being from USC has helped him bond with Matthews beyond what another rookie might have?
Perhaps, but that doesn't matter. The guy Perry needs to bond with is Kevin Greene, his position coach. If he does what Greene tells him to do, he'll be a good player.
What's your realistic prediction for the Packer D this year...do you think it will be a big enough liability to prevent them from making a Super Bowl run?
No. I think it will be better, in part because they have a better plan for causing pressure upfront. And Dom Capers has earned the benefit of the doubt in terms of finding a way to make it work.
What would you consider major progress for ponder this year?
A season in which he has more TD passes than interceptions, is over 60 percent completion percentage and pushes the Vikings towards a .500 record.
With all of the other players' contracts taken care of, will I have to wait until the year is over or will a deal get done before then?
That's the guess, which isn't a bad idea on either side. The Bears probably won't franchise you, so you'll have a chance to get a new deal at market value. Can't ask for more than that, whether it comes from the Bears or elsewhere.
With all this attention paid to Brandon Marshall as being one of the reasons why Cutler is going to have a career year; I can't help but wonder why the Bears were able to get him for 2 measly 3rd rounds? It just seems too good to be as true as people think. I keep trying to think of a "catch" and all I can come up with is a high drop % and the potential bar scandal that ended up being nothing. Your thoughts?
It's an excellent point. Maybe we'll find out Marshall has lost a step or has some other skeleton waiting to come out of his closet. But you forgot one possibility: The Dolphins might not be the best judges of talent in the NFL right now.
What kind of season do you expect from Jermichael Finley? He is so talented, yet there are only so many balls to go around, and he hasnt made the most of his so far to date.
It will be another season like 201 in the sense that Aaron Rodgers will throw to the open man. Finley will be left open by some teams and will get his opportunities. You can only hope that the contract he got in the offseason will relax him enough to avoid the drops.
Hey Kevin, If you are in a two QB league, and the setting are better for QBs than WR/RB.. If you have the number one pick Do you take Stafford over Rodgers? The reason I ask this question is because I can see Stafford having a better year in Stats, meaning.. 5060 yards and 43 TDs for Stafford, and for Rodger more like 4850 and 41 TDs.. AGREE...
I'm not much of fantasy guy but I think you could definitely make an argument for Stafford over Rodgers in a fantasy league.
Who in your opinion, has the upper hand at the Packers other safety spot?
Initially Peprah, I would guess. But in the end, as we discussed at minicamp, this is going to be a fluid situation. Charles Woodson is going to get some time at safety, even if it's only when the Packers are in their base scheme. So one of the traditional safeties will only be on the field for a portion of the time.
The Bear's really do have the best receivers in the NFC North right? The Packer's can't even compete! What planet am I on?
I'll say this: The Bears' receivers can be discussed in the same breath as the Packers' for the first time since I started doing this blog. But I think I would still take Jennings-Nelson-Jones-Cobb/Driver over Marshall-Bennett-Hester-Jeffery.
How much does the transition from Philbin to Clements change the philosophy in GB or does it have no effect?
Shouldn't have any. Mike McCarthy is in charge of the Packers' offense.
What does Ndamukong Suh have to do to earn the respect he deserves in the NFL?
He just needs to put his head down and play hard. He's largely escaped the public eye this offseason and has a real chance to redirect public discussion to his play on the field.
How much of the Titus Young stuff has blown over from the Summer, and he is ready to make a jump?
I think that's something we'll find out early in training camp. Indications were that he and Delmas patched things up, but obviously it's going to take an extended period of grown-up behavior from Young to convince everyone that he's now grown up.
I've heard a few things about D. Moses, the undrafted OLB making waves in OTA's.... What do you know about him and his relative skill set?
I can't say he caught my eye in minicamp, but it was definitely worth noting that he was working some with the first team. Clearly coaches were intrigued. But I have a hard time getting too excited after last year's Vic So'oto mania.
Can you see Nick Perry getting 8-10 sacks this year???
That would be on the very high end of a fair expectation.
Could having Anthony Hargrove return in week 9 provide a big defensive boost because he'll have fresh legs or are D-Linemen prone to rust?
No, I think he could definitely give a boost provided he stays in shape, which I assume he will.
Dave (WI) should know that the Bears will be division kings in 2012. Sorry to report this to you but when Rodgers goes down, are you really going to count on Graham Harrell? Didn't think so.
No division ranking contemplates the loss of a starting quarterback.
How much will it benefit the Vikings being overlooked and underestimated by most opponets (provided they are improved this year), and how long can they use that to their advantage in games? The last thing anyone expects is a potent passing attack... should they try to capitalize on that in their game planning?
It will have absolutely no effect whatsoever. They could steal a game or two possibly, but they'll have to earn a good record like anyone else. And the only way that teams lay off the passing game is if it demonstrates it isn't any good.
Will more than one team from the NFC North go to playoffs?
I really think so, yes.
I've always wondered which NFL blogger has the best following? I'm assuming it's you based purely on talent...
Haha, thanks. As much as we would all like to think it's our individual skills, in the end readership of the blog is based on news. When there is a lot of news going on in the NFC North, a lot of people read the blog. When it's crickets, people move on.
As a life-long Lions fan I am completely disgusted by the actions of a few players this offseason and fear that these transgressions will once again translate onto the field. Having said that, I am bracing for a drop-off in production and totally understand why so many are picking the Bears to finish in 2nd and in the playoffs. How far do you realistically see the Lions dropping off this year?
We were talking about that yesterday over on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. I don't necessarily think the Lions are going to play any worse this year. I just think it's a relative thing. If the Lions play the same and the Bears play much better than they did at the end of last year, that means the Bears could pass them even if the Lions haven't taken a so-called step back. To me, the competition is higher for a playoff spot now. That's all.
Who would you consider to be the best OC, DC and ST Coordinator in the NFC North?
Mike McCarthy isn't the Packers' OC, so I guess we can't count him. So I would give that title to Scott Linehan. I'd say the best defensive coordinator is Rod Marinelli and the best special teams coordinator is Dave Toub from the Bears.
Do you think Kalil's contract will be in the same area as RG3's and Lucks's?
It'll be right where it was slotted. The finances of NFL rookies deals are now all slotted. No. 2 gets a little less than No. 1. No. 3 gets a little less than No. 2. And so on.
How can you consider Hester to be a good WR when he has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he is not
I didn't say he was. I just said the Bears have a good group of receivers.
One on one matchup you are most excited for in NFCN this year? I'm excited for Perry vs. Kahlil being former teammates
That's not a bad one. I would also like to see Vikings CB Chris Cook on Lions WR Calvin Johnson. Cook is the biggest CB in the division and did a decent job for most of their game against each other last season.
If there will be replacement refs, how will it affect us in the NFCN? Will megatron be able to catch a TD pass at the end of the game and actually have it called a TD? How about Joe Webb? will he get the facemask call as time expires?!
Generally speaking, replacement refs would be chaos for everyone. This is not like baseball, when minor league guys get call-ups during the season to gain experience. There is no credible pool of candidates to pull from. I can't see how the NFL could let that happen, especially when referees are among other things charged with monitoring player safety.
Kevin - Why is everybody up in arms about how the Packers are going to use me? Haven't I proved that I can adapt to where ever they play me and the fact that I can play multiple positions and play to the flexibility of our overall defense! I think I'm a pretty big key to the overall success of what we do in 2012. Do you agree?
Agreed. I think the only thing people were up in arms about was if the Packers had a cornerback who could replace you if you moved full-time to safety. That doesn't appear to be the plan, however, so it's moot.
Do you think it would be a similar transition for Antoine Winfield to Strong Safety in Base situations (like Charles Woodson), and move him down to nickel on passing downs? Which would then open up the other corner spot for Robinson, Carr or Bowman opposite Cook...?
It sounds like the Vikings have no such plans. Winfield has never done it and doesn't want to do it, and I think Leslie Frazier still sees him as a valuable nickel slot man.
Will G. Childs or J. Wright see any PT this year?
If Greg Childs is healthy I could see him getting a lot of work.
How many of your friends join these chats?
The stretch question is: can THREE NFCN teams make the playoffs?
It's going to be tough.
I think the Vikings having a potent passing attack would surprise a lot of teams, the Vikings included!
They are expecting it to be efficient. Potent would be bonus.
Am I still strong enough, fast enough, and tough enough at age 32 to get the most sacks in the NFC North this year? If not, how many sacks do you see me getting, and who's my toughest competition for sacks?
I think you're still one of the best players in the NFL. How that translates into sack numbers is anyone's guess. Could be anywhere between 6-14.
Appreciate that you have to appeal to the masses, but the Bears and Packers' receivers are not in the same universe. Name one of the Bears' WR that would play over the top 4 in GBay (regardless who you call the top 4). Maybe 1. Then reverse it...
There is a bigger dropoff from Marshall to Bennett than there is from Jennings to Nelson. Point was that in the past we wouldn't even have reason to launch the discussion. The Bears have put together a group that merits discussion. That's all.
With all the talk of the Vikes shifting Everson Griffen to LB, how successful do you think he'll be in that role?
I can only assume it will be in a specialty formation. Hard to see a 263-pound OLB in the 4-3 dropping into coverage effectively.
Marinelli better than Capers?
Guess that was my instinctive choice after the way things went last year.
http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/07/24/pfts-preseason-power-rankings-no-1-green-bay-packers/ Do you agree with Florio?
Yup. I saw that Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune had the Packers at No. 1 as well.
The vikings had such a wierd season blowing first half leads it seemed to be either a mental thing on the players part or a stratigy thing one the coaches part. They lost a lot of games by less than a score. Are they really that far from being a play off team?
Don't forget they went young at a lot of positions this offseason. They were close but not good enough last year.
Do you think it's sensible to take a guy who's played with his hand in the ground his entire life, and ask him potentially to play in a cover-2 scheme? I understand getting Everson Griffen on the field, but wouldn't a rotation with he and Robison be better, since Robison produced the same # of sacks as Ray Edwards the last 2 years he was there?
Yeah, you would think the Vikings would want him at 4-3 and not use Robison 85 percent of the plays or whatever it was last year. But again, I have to believe they're not going to use Griffen in a traditional way at OLB.
Kevin,The Lions have the same players as last year, yet we're not expected to get better. The Packers have a lot of the same players from their 6-10 season. They got better. I still don't buy into the Bears being better. They're like the 2011 Eagles....
It's not quite the hodgepode that the Eagles brought in. Marshall and Cutler, for instance, have played together for a long time.
Kevin, let's talk Lions history...which was worse: Megatron's TD not called a TD or the Lions deferring the kickoff to start OT?
Both were self-inflicted, but only one was a mental gaffe.
What if Green Bay kept 8 WR's, 5 TE's, and zero RB's? I submit that it would not matter.
Ha! Someone would have to carry the ball on 4th and 1. ... Oh wait, what am I talking about...
How do the Bears have a good group of wide receivers? Marshall is the only one with star talent. Bennett is inconsistent. Hester isn't a WR. Jeffrey was a possession receiver with limited speed and effort questions in college. What am I missing?
Bennett is not inconsistent. He's very consistent when healthy and has a clear chemistry with Cutler.
Uh..when did Jordy Nelson become a hall of famer? My goodness, he has one good season and all of a sudden he is better than Earl Bennett. At least Bennett catches every ball thrown his way.
And there is the other side of the argument....
OK gang, a couple more here.
What do you think of the new Gaslight Anthem? Heard you were at a recent show with another Packers bear writter.
You source is correct. I really like their older stuff and the new album is cool. I agree with some who suggest their sound is pretty much the same throughout all their stuff, but at least it's a good one.
Kevin, these other posters forget one thing about the Bears receivers, a superb back that also catches a pass: Matt Forte
Excellent point. He has always been one of the NFL's top receiving backs.
I just want Packer RB Brandon Saine to score a TD so they can blast "insane to the membrane, insane to the brain!" over the speakers in 2012
We can all dream...
Alright, Kevin. Time to wrap it up here. I have heard enough. Get to work!
Sounds good to me. Thanks everyone!