NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Vikings

     

Bears

Bears S Eddie Jackson quickly established a reputation in his first two seasons as a ballhawk with eight interceptions and five defensive touchdowns. So far in 2019, however, Jackson has struggled, as has the rest of Chicago’s defense, at creating the same turnover production. He has no interceptions in nine games this season. 

“This is the longest I’ve ever been in my life without an interception, without a touchdown — ever,” Jackson said, via Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times. “So it’s getting stressful. I’m just happy we won this last game, but being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s gonna come. That’s all I keep telling myself.”

Before the 2019 season, the Bears made the decision to swap James Daniels and Cody Whitehair between left guard and center, putting each of them back at the positions they played in college. Once the season started, though, it became apparent that the youthful Daniels was struggling with the communication aspects of playing center. After Kyle Long was placed on injured reserve and Rashaad Coward inserted into the starting lineup at right guard, the Bears made the decision to move Whitehair back to center to steady the line. 

You have Kyle over there, veteran, steadying guy next to James between him and Bobby (Massie),” Hiestand said. “Now you have a guy that was a defensive lineman playing that spot and with Cody in there, it’s a steadying factor. The facts are James is a really good football player but he’s learning on the job as a 23-year-old guy playing in the NFL and how many games he had at center. This we felt gave us the best opportunity to balance things out and to help build the communication between … we really had our two most experienced players playing next to each other once we lost Kyle, so that was a big consideration.”

  • According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Panthers QB Cam Newton would “welcome” a trade to the Bears if Chicago shows interest this offseason. 
  • Bears TE Trey Burton missed practice Wednesday with a calf injury. (Adam Jahns)

Lions

Vikings

Perhaps the biggest addition the Vikings made this offseason was bringing in Gary Kubiak to serve on the coaching staff as an associate head coach. Kubiak’s offensive knowledge has paid dividends for defensive-focused HC Mike Zimmer, as Minnesota’s offense has largely been effective while players like QB Kirk Cousins and RB Dalvin Cook are having potential career years. 

“Gary has been tremendous. It’s probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me since I’ve been here,” Zimmer said via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “He’s very smart. I talk to him a lot about what he’s done as a head coach. We talk a lot about offensive and defensive football. I just love his demeanor and the way that he and Kevin can communicate during the games and also during the week on game plans.”

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