NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers


The Bears were so excited about the potential of RB David Montgomery that they traded up in the third round of this year’s draft to select him. Bears RB coach Charles London said Montgomery possesses “pretty rare contact balance” which should enable him to thrive immediately at the NFL level. 

“He definitely possesses that,” London said via the Athletic’s Adam Jahns. “It’s important from the running back position because every play is not going to be clean and every hole is not going to be clean. Sometimes you just got to create that on your own. He did quite a bit of that at Iowa State. That was something that we noticed. And that is something you really can’t coach. You either kind of got it or you don’t and he does. It’s something we quickly noticed about him.”

  • Jahns also writes it’s not crazy for Bears QB Mitch Trubisky to be an MVP candidate if Chicago is contending for a Super Bowl as it expects. 
  • The Bears received poor offseason grades by some for the loss of DC Vic Fangio who left to coach the Broncos. However, Fangio himself says his replacement, Chuck Pagano, will do just fine: “The players haven’t changed, and the players are the most important thing. (Chuck) will do fine with those guys. There’ll be some carryover, as there are from a lot of systems. But I don’t think they’ll have much problems.”
  • Jahns says that while S Adrian Amos was a good player, he was only the 10th-most important player on last season’s defense, and free-agent addition Ha Ha Clinton-Dix should be a more than adequate replacement.


Though it’s the Lions’ second year under HC Matt Patricia, Detroit is installing a new offense under OC Darrell Bevell, formerly with the Seahawks. Lions OT Taylor Decker said it will be important for the offensive line to recover in July, but still come back in shape and with good retention of what they learned in the spring. 

“We worked really hard to digest the playbook come out here and put it into action on the field,” Decker said via Tim Twentyman of the official team website. “It’s just going to be really important for us to come back ready to go.”

“Made a lot of progress this offseason learning the offense and working hard and getting to know new teammates. You don’t want to take a step back in this time off,” Decker continued. “Trying to hit the ground running when we get back.”


Packers LBs coach Mike Smith said that he had first-round pick Rashan Gary was the “No. 1” outside linebacker on his draft board and is surprised he fell to No. 12 overall. 

I still evaluated everybody (before the draft). I honestly didn’t think (Gary) was going to 12 — I thought he was going to go way before that with how I evaluated him and looked at him. I thought he was the best in college football as an outside linebacker. I had him No. 1 because I believed in him, so I know what he has and I know what he can do. And I’m excited to work for him,” said Smith, via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal

Smith compared Gary with Dee Ford and Justin Houston, who he coached while with the Chiefs. 

At Kansas City, where I was at before here, they had Dee Ford — he’s small, great get-off — and we had Justin Houston, who’s a big, strong guy. You get a guy like Gary that’s both of them. When you’re a tackle in this league, and you’ve got (to deal with) a guy that’s got a get-off and speed and you’re strong and you’re powerful, it’s a dangerous combination. We’ve just got to learn how to use those tools,” said Smith. 

Gary says it’s a “blessing” to have a coach like Smith and is happy he landed in Green Bay. 

Having a coach like Coach Smith is a blessing. I’m happy to be here, I’m happy they have faith in me, and I tell him, ‘All I need is a chance.’ And he’s given me that chance,” Gary said. “Every day I’m here, I’m going to work my tail off for him and do what I’ve got to do.”

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