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Around the NFC North – Preseason Week 3

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Around the NFC North – Preseason Week 3

Heading into the third week of preseason action, where recent tradition shows that most teams will get their starters the most exhibition action, the teams around the NFC North are looking to build consistency as they look to head into the regular season just less than three weeks away.

Chicago Bears

This Saturday, the Bears welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Soldier Field their fourth game of the preseason.  Coming off of a 24 – 23 come from behind win in Denver this past weekend, the Bears will be looking to get starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky into a rhythm with his new group of receivers prior to the team making the trek to Lambeau Field for the regular season opener.

In Denver, Trubisky and the Bears starting offense ran hot and cold.  Trubisky showed signs of having an accurate arm while hitting several receivers on nice throws downfield.  But in the same breath, he also struggled at times with unexplained inaccuracy.  A heavy dose of the starting offense on Saturday is needed for the Bears offense and Trubisky to mesh together.

So far in the preseason, new head coach Matt Nagy’s offense has been featuring frequent motion and pre-snap shifting with jet sweeps and end arounds mixed in with the downfield passing attack and zone running scheme.  In Denver, Trubisky found a groove with new tight end Trey Burton for four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.  The two-headed combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen has been limited this preseason, but Nagy has shown signs of utilizing the versatile running backs in a variety of ways throughout mini-camp and training camp practices.

On defense, the big story for the Bears this Saturday will be their first-round draft pick, Roquan Smith, seeing his first live action after signing his rookie contract last week.

Minnesota Vikings

Coming off of an ugly 14 – 10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home last weekend, the Viking will look to right their ship at home this Friday against the Seattle Seahawks.  The Jaguars game was a struggle for Kirk Cousins, who saw action in four total series.  He finished the day only completing three passes on eight attempts for a grand total of 12 yards.  The starting quarterback could only muster a field goal for the offense in his time on the field.

Following the Jacksonville game, head coach Mike Zimmer was not happy with the sloppy play of his team and was quoted saying that he was glad his team didn’t win because they didn’t deserve to win.  The usually reliable Latavius Murray coughed up two fumbles in only six carries, with the Vikings losing one of those fumbles.

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings defense looked solid against a Jaguars team that played their starting offense for the entire first half of the game.  The unit held the Jaguars offense relatively still and savvy veteran Harrison Smith recorded an interception of Black Bortles.

In a rare regular season preview matchup in the preseason, the Vikings will be looking to get new quarterback Kirk Cousins into a groove when the Seahawks come to town on Friday.  The two teams face each other on a Monday night matchup on December 10th.

Detroit Lions

Coming off of a 30 – 17 loss to the New York Giants at home last weekend, the Detroit Lions appear to have a lot of work to accomplish to be ready for their week one matchup against the New York Jets.  Having played two games of sloppy and mistake-ridden football so far this preseason, head coach Matt Patricia was not pleased after the team’s performance against the Giants.

Matt Stafford led the first-team offense on three drives where they scored three points on a field goal and went three and out on the other two drives.  The biggest pain for the Lions offense so far through the preseason has been the sketchy play of their offensive line, who allowed Stafford to be sacked twice on his three drives.  With TJ Lang resting, the Lions have struggled to find a groove on their offensive line and the coaching staff knows that this facet of their game needs to improve over the final two preseason games.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions pass defense, led by cornerback Darius Slay, has played decently but the rushing defense has been suspect at best.  As the team travels to Tampa Bay this Friday for a matchup with the Buccaneers, the team surely needs to show signs of improvement all around prior to the start of the regular season.

________________________

Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (44) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

Cousins grew up 20 minutes from where I live. He was hot and cold in high school, same at the college level and into the pros. He's not the franchise QB that Queen fans think he is, but if they want to pay him like one I'm all for it!

Bearmeat's picture

Vikings fans think they've got a superbowl team prepping for the season. They're in for a letdown once again. That interior OL is NOT a good match for a rhythm QB like Cousins who is NOT a scrambler.

They should have kept Keenum for 1/2 the amount of money.

PAPackerbacker's picture

Paying that kind of money for a average QB like Cousins is crazy. I think the Vikings will make the playoffs but on the shoulders of their defense, not by the skills of their QB. The Packers will win the NFC North division. Even though the hit from Barr is supposedly left in the past I would not be surprised if the Packers use it as motivation to win against the Vikings and put forth their best effort when these two teams square off. Without a doubt if it comes down to QB play for a win the Packers are light years ahead of the Vikings. Go! Pack! Go!

Nick Perry's picture

"Even though the hit from Barr is supposedly left in the past I would not be surprised if the Packers use it as motivation to win against the Vikings and put forth their best effort when these two teams square off."

I would certainly hope so. The Packers BETTER be up for this one and play balls to the walls for 60 minutes. That was their leader, franchise, reason the team was 4-1 heading into that game. The injury was reason they went 3-8 the rest of the way and needed OT to beat the Bucs.

The Vikings have a great defense, no doubt about it but Rodgers has shredded them before. Look no further than last 5 quarters of meaningful football they played...they gave up what, 56 points or something close to that? They can be had and certainly aren't the 85 Bears.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I know the Packers had to go into overtime to beat the Browns last year. And there is no QB better in the NFL when it comes to picking apart a defense than Rodgers. The Packers cannot afford another season ending injury to Rodgers. Hundley is not the answer to their backup QB. If Kiser had the 3 years experience like Hundley does I think he would be an outstanding backup to Rodgers. And I also think Boyle would be better than Hundley as well. Hundley has had ample time to learn the system but has not got the job done when it was time for him to step up. And why wasn't Callahan given a chance last year when Hundley failed miserably? He certainly couldn't have done any worse. But that's another thread all together. For sure the Packers need to play a full 60 minutes with their best performance, both physical and mental. I think they can get the job done and win the NFC North. But the title will have to be won by defeating the Vikings to do so.

Demon's picture

The vikings have done less with more talent than any team I've ever seen! I dont know if anyone wants to look it up, but i would assume that since 1990 no team has had more hall of fame players on their roster than them.

Gary zimmerman
Randall mcdaniel
Warren moon
Brett favre
Chris doleman
John randall
Morten anderson
Gary andersen
Chris carter
Randy moss
Adrian peterson will be

Can anyone think of more?
Thats 11 off the top of my head 11 hall of famers ZERO superbowl appearances.

Packers in the same time period.
Brett favre
Reggie white
Julius peppers will be
Charles woodson will be
Aaron rogers will be
Leroy butler? Maybe will be

5 hall of famers 3 superbowl appearances 2 wins

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah, their team colors are purple for a reason. Chokers.

That said, you do notice no HOF QBs on that list. QB goes a loooong way to putting a team in contention. I would argue their best QB since Moon has been a 40 year old Favre.

Demon's picture

My point is, if they couldn't win with that group they havent got a chance.

packrulz's picture

Herschel Walker?

Bure9620's picture

So shopping Cobb??

MITM's picture

That was the initial report - but the update is that teams have checked in although we arent actively shopping him.

Oppy's picture

Teams are constantly checking on everything and everyone.. This is a prime example of some beat guy somewhere trying to stir the pot for easy click bait I'd wager.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

No one can dampen my excitement. If there's any chance--any chance at all--that we could move Cobb's contract...

...Oboyoboyoboyoboyoboy!!!

Minniman's picture

I don't know about that one ALP.

I think that GB finally have the receiver corps mix right this year, and Cobb is going to play an important role in it as that shifty veteran slot receiver.

I think that when Adams mans the perimeter, Cobb and Jimmy G attack the seam, the rookie burner's hit the go-route and Ty or Jones remain options in the flats that there's going to be favorable match ups occurring.

.....Is he being paid a premium. yes! But this could be a year to absorb it for the greater good. Next year will be VERY different if even one of the rookie's has a breakout season.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I totally agree Cobb should have a good year, Minni. I just want cap space cleared so we can build a better foundation going forward.

You don't have to sell me on Cobb's fit--I'm already there.

Nick Perry's picture

That would be a horrible move by Gutekunst. That would leave just Adams and Allison who have any regular season with Rodgers at the position. I think Rodgers would just about completely lose it if they traded Cobb. It just doesn't make sense.

IMO Cobb will have an excellent season this season. Maybe not 2014 good but something like 70 catches for 800 yards and 8-10 TD's. Rodgers has already lost Nelson and his QB coach. That's enough for one season.

BTW....I have a friend who has a friend who works for the Packers Staff in some capacity. My buddy was told by his friend Rodgers HATES his new QB coach..Won't even talk to him and uses others to pass his messages to Frank Cignetti. Now that seems awfully childish to me and I'm sure it's not THAT bad but I'd be curious to see what those who have watched Packers practices this season have to say about this. Does Rodgers have any interaction with Cignetti? If so does how much, what's the body language like when he is talking to him?

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree Nick.

While we have added veterans in Graham and Lewis, our WR's have Adams and Allison with any type of experience. Cobb is in sync with Rodgers. They already got rid of one of the guys he is in sync with. Can we afford to get rid of another? I don't think so.

With all the young Receivers that will likely be on the 53 we need some guys with experience too.

That is interesting about Rodgers and his QB coach. I'd like to find out if there is any truth to it.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

You guys are making valid points--points I have shared myself. Cobb is primed for a big year.

The big difference here has always been I'm focused on 2019-2022, and saving any monies toward that stretch. You guys are focused almost solely on 2018.

It's a difference of focus and priorities, not opinion. There's no right or wrong.

Minniman's picture

Fair call on all of your return comments Andrew, but I think that you will find that this is the last year of his contract, so hell/hail or high water I think its safe to say that GB won't be carrying his recent numbers next year (if extended).

https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/green-bay-packers/randall-cobb-7783/

dobber's picture

Never say never...

Reports this morning that the Packers and CMIII are talking extension. Would likely open up some important cap space. Could Cobb be next? ;)

https://www.profootballrumors.com/2018/08/packers-clay-matthews-have-dis...

Bearmeat's picture

WHY on earth would they do that before they see how he does this season? Unless he was playing for like 3 million a year, and why would he agree to that?

Oppy's picture

This is being blown way out of proportion.
Also missing from Clay Matthews quotes, things like "maybe I stay here, maybe I go somewhere else, we'll see how it shakes out" etc etc.

This is all information that was taken directly from an locker room interview with Clay that is easily found on Packers.com. I think the only thing we take away from this is that the Packers front office has ongoing contact and discussions with many players, probably especially those who are nearing end of current contract. Explore all avenues and be prepared for all possibilities. Unless the PAckers are dead sure they don't want anything to do with a player moving forward, it would be foolish not to have continued contact.

Chuck Farley's picture

Sounds like everyone in nfc north has issues this year. The vikes defense is still solid and should be the favorite. Who knows.

Bearmeat's picture

Frank Cignetti is a Jeff-Fischer like NFL lifer. He has had muted successes in several of his stops, but it has never been his unit that caused his success.

It was a bad hire. Hopefully, ARod just does ARod and the coach is gone in a year.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm guessing you were replying to me BM based on your comment. My hope is Rodgers and Philbin click like before. Rodgers can get by without a QB coach he respects for a season as long as McCarthy and Philbin are right there. IMO Rodgers is super focused this year and maybe more motivated than any season past.

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah. Harder to tell who you're replying to on the phone. Sorry.

MITM's picture

I hate that the Vikings picked up George Iloka, and not just because he ended Finleys career. The Vikings upgraded their weakest link on defense (Sendejo), and now have a 6'3 safety( the top safety in the NFL imo) in Smith and a 6'4 mauler in Iloka.

Oppy's picture

They just got a little bit slower at safety, though, too.
While the Packers are getting more athletic overall at WR and TE.

Let the games begin!

Nick Perry's picture

It makes sense he went to the Vikings. He already knows the defense and can step in. Iloka isn't very good especially against the pass. He's not even going to be starting.

LambeauPlain's picture

And he played 2 years for Zimmer when he was the DC in Cincy.

So kind of like Pettine attracting Wilkerson for a "prove it" year.

But still, Iloka would have help shore up the S room. They aren't playing real well yet.

dobber's picture

I would argue Iloka isn't an upgrade over Sendejo. It's depth. Neither Sendejo nor Smith have a track record of being iron men.

mrtundra's picture

And IMO, Smith is overrated.

shystr's picture

The Vikings have a defensive-minded coach, and they curiously continue to invest draft capital and salary cap money in an already-excellent defense. The same cannot be said for that highly porous offensive line. The one that's tasked with protecting the immobile Mister Cousins, the 84 Million Dollar Man. And all of that 84 million guaranteed. Wouldn't it be Karma... Wouldn't it be Poetic Justice to have some divisional defensive player inadvertently crash into Cousins early in the season and force them to rely on a backup because they don't have salary cap money to bring in a serious free agent QB?

Bearmeat's picture

He is going to start. Sendejo sucks.

Lphill's picture

We don't want Cousins to get hurt we need him healthy so he can prove he is just an average QB making a lot of money.

croatpackfan's picture

Viking signed Iloka for one year... Rappaport reported!

Nick Perry's picture

Was just reading on the MJS that Biegel jumped offsides again in 2 minute drill and is almost nonexistent during practive. To be nonexistent against most of the Packers backup O-Linemen is a huge reason to be concerned and more than backs up what we've seen on the field in the preseason.

Kevin King better turn out to be an All-Pro shutdown CB because I think TJ Watt is going to turn out to be a sack machine in Pittsburgh.

Just more of Ted Thompson's finest work as GM. What a F'ing putz!

RCPackerFan's picture

I'm still going to give Biegel time. He is going through his first training camp. He showed some flashes as a rookie and didn't have any training camp or anything. Lets give him some time to find his way.

I wanted Watt as much as anyone. But from what I heard outside of a some splash plays last year Watt didn't do much last year.

I think Thompson made the right decision in trading back and essentially taking King and Biegel vs Watt.

I also think that Gutekunst made the right decision this year in trading back, gaining a first round pick, then trading up and taking Alexander. He could have stayed where he was at and drafted Davenport, Derwin James or Alexander, but gaining another first round pick to essentially move down 4 spots was just to good to pass up.

egbertsouse's picture

I’m a Wisconsin alum and wanted Biegel to be great, but even I have to admit that he is a bust. He looks like a boy among men out there. And I agree with with comment that if you can unload Cobb’s big contract, do it. He is an injury waiting to happen.

LambeauPlain's picture

I am a Badger alum too and had high hopes for him...having watched him play every game he was on the field for WI.

It is clear he is not strong enough to handle NFL tackles yet. He gets locked up by blockers and can't get free. At this point no way do you have him take up a roster spot on the 53. He'd probably make the Practice Squad easily.

But dang, Fackrell isn't much better. Seems a bit stronger but close call.

Jonathan Spader's picture

People throw the word bust around the moment someone doesn't step in and contribute. Some football players take more time to develop than others. It's disappointing that Biegel hasn't been able to translate the pass rushing skills he displayed in college to the NFL right away. It's also too soon to call him a bust. If CM3 and Perry manage to stay healthy for once it wouldn't be as big of a deal. The problem is we need OLB depth and we don't have it in 2018. Fackrel was drafted 3rd round instead of the 4th and has more time than Biegel and is older. He's shown nothing outside of special teams and if he does nothing in 2018 he's a bust.

Edit: Lambeau there is no way Biegel goes to the PS we have next to no depth at OLB.

dobber's picture

I agree: our depth at OLB means that Biegel sticks. He's someone who will need to be schemed well to be effective...not going to make plays on the edge by himself. He might benefit from a stout, physical DL, but until he shows more I don't expect him to be any more than a role player at edge.

RCPackerFan's picture

Lets just wait and see with Biegel. He missed all of training camp last year. And when he finally got to start practicing/playing, he didn't really get a lot of playing time.

This is his first training camp, and he is still learning how to play in the NFL. He did flash some good things last year when he got on the field.

Its way to soon to call him a bust. Lets give him time.

PackfanNY's picture

I won't go so far as to call him a bust yet for the reasons you cited. However, it also should be said he had some time playing at the end of last season, he had all of this offseason (mini-camp, camp etc.) and he really hasn't given the Packers reason to justify their confidence in him.

Compare him to Montravious Adams (ok different position) and his progress and its not even close. Their has to be some concern that Biegel is not suited for the NFL.

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