NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers

     

Bears

After going 12-4 and 8-8 in HC Matt Nagy‘s first two seasons, the Bears face a crossroads season in 2020. The biggest storyline is who will be leading them at quarterback, as Chicago traded for veteran Nick Foles to compete with former No. 2 overall QB Mitchell Trubisky, who has not been able to find consistency since being drafted as the team’s future franchise quarterback. While the two haven’t been able to get on the field yet, Nagy was clear that when they do, Trubisky would open as the incumbent starter.

“And it’s been loud and clear with those guys — again, we’re overcommunicating clarity — Mitchell’s gonna be in the huddle for Day 1, Play 1,” Nagy said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “He’ll be going into his fourth year, three with us. Mitchell’s done a lot of good things for us. Nick completely understands that. When Mitchell comes out of the huddle the first time, and Nick goes into the huddle the first time, that’s gonna be the first time it’s a little different for everybody.”

Outside observers have speculated that after trading for a player he’s worked with in the past, it’s only a matter of time until Nagy hands the keys to the starting job over to Foles. But Nagy said there’s not a pre-determined result, and once they get on the field in training camp the competition will play out how it plays out. 

“Mitch isn’t gonna be able to do it (in the spring), and Nick isn’t gonna be able to do it,” Nagy said. “So it’s gonna be very important, in whatever time we’re given — it’s just a fact, there’s just not going to be as much time for that to naturally happen — for us to see it. It’ll all play itself out. And because there’s zero agendas in this thing, because there’s complete honesty, it’s very healthy. Credit to both of these guys, Mitch and Nick, they’re both really good people.”

Nagy also added he’s not worried about the competition negatively impacting the chemistry in the quarterback room. While Foles assured him he was coming for the starting job, he also said he would do everything in his power to help Trubisky grow. 

“It’s just like, ‘Hey, listen, if I didn’t have confidence in myself then I probably wouldn’t be trying to help him out, because I’d need every advantage I can get,’” Nagy said. “That’s not the case with him. Nick’s been to the top. He’s also been to the bottom. He’s had his challenges. And he just believes and treats people the right way. It’s not gonna be toxic. It’s gonna be a very natural, healthy environment.”

Lions

  • DetroitNews.com’s Justin Rogers expects Lions DT Nick Williams, who signed in Detroit on a two-year, $10 million deal with $4.9 million guaranteed this offseason, to step into the starting spot vacated by DT A’Shawn Robinson
  • Rogers mentions Williams is a good fit for the Lions’ gap-control scheme and could be used more as a pass rusher on third down by the Lions. All six of his sacks for the Bears in 2019 came on second down. 

Packers

Among the issues many are taking with how the Packers went about this offseason is the lack of receiving help they brought in. Green Bay didn’t use a draft pick on a wide receiver in a supposed historic class for the position and Devin Funchess was the only notable free-agent addition. However, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have an issue with his supporting cast. 

“I like where we’re at,” Rodgers said via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “Obviously what we accomplished last year was pretty amazing. You know, the additions that we brought in and then having a first-year head coach with a new system, I liked our progression throughout the season. Obviously we had a lot of success, won a lot of close games. I like where we’re at, and you know, as always, we’re going to be expecting those young players whether they’re rookies or second- or third-year guys to make that jump, and we’re going to be calling on them to play an even bigger role for us.”

One of the young players Green Bay thinks can grow into a viable weapon for Rodgers is third-year WR Allen Lazard. Lazard came on strong down the stretch, recording all of his 35 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns from Week 6 on. Rodgers praised the growth the 6-5, 227-pound Lazard showed in 2019. 

“By the end of the season, he was called upon many, many times in important situations to make big plays and he did,” Rodgers said. “He’s just a great teammate, and ascending player, loved his approach every week and he made some big-time plays for us.”

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