It was a crazy 2019 season in the NFC North. Some teams took a step forward and some took a step back but the competition was close most of the season. These teams have a strong base and that’s what made this division one of the toughest in football and it’ll continue to be that way for years to come. All of these teams need some improvement of some kind as we look at the 2020 offseason needs in the NFC North.
NFC North 2020 Offseason Needs
Trey Flowers, T.J. Hockenson, Danny Amendola and Justin Coleman were just some of the names the Detroit Lions brought in last offseason. They assembled some good talent for the 2019 season and head coach Matt Patricia really liked what the team had to offer. The Lions were thought of as a team that could make some noise in that division. Things don’t always work out how you want them to and that’s the case for the Lions. They had three more losses last season (3-12-1) than they did in 2018 (6-10). This offseason is a crucial one to add to the talent they already have. They also have the third overall pick at their disposal.
The Lions didn’t fare too well on the defensive side of the ball. They finished last in the NFL in passing yards allowed and they have pieces on the move. Darius Slay is a great corner but nobody knows what’s going to happen with him this year or in years to come. Rashaan Melvin is a free agent and he was a number two corner. The Lions are always talking about the cornerback position and it’s no different this offseason.
Rotation between guards in 2019 was the norm for the Lions. They signed Joe Dahl to an extension but what about others? A few contracts are getting ready to expire at the position and they don’t have anyone that’s taking hold. This is a very interesting position that the Lions need to address this offseason.
The Chicago Bears took a huge step back after going 12-4 in 2018. The defense was strong once again even after hiring new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. It was the offense that struggled at multiple positions. You probably have a good feeling what the top needs are going to be for the Bears in 2020.
The Bears have gone on record to say that the tight end position is the glaring need on this team. They got no production from the position in 2019 when they needed it. The Bears acquired Trey Burton in 2018 but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. They also drafted a tight end but that hasn’t worked out so far. Getting a tight end would help this offense get closer to what they want to be.
Even if the team doesn’t want to admit it, Mitchell Trubisky was the wrong choice as the franchise quarterback. General Manager Ryan Pace hasn’t said anything about getting rid of Trubisky but if he has another season like in 2019, you would think they would draft or trade for their next guy. As for this year, he will be the starter but we don’t quite know who the backup will be. Chase Daniel is not penciled in and they need another quarterback to stay behind Trubisky. The Bears don’t have to far to go but the offense was clearly the problem and these two positions could really improve the team.
After a 10-6 season and a trip to the NFC Divisional Game, the Minnesota Vikings require a couple of positions to be a regiment contender. They have some big problems in two key positions that they need to eye this offseason.
This is probably the most worrisome position on the team. The offensive line was horrible in a lot of games against teams with a good pass rush. They couldn’t stop a lot of teams from getting into the backfield. Kirk Cousins doesn’t have the same elusiveness as these other quarterbacks and they have a great running back in Dalvin Cook so they need to find some help on the line. Nothing worked for the Vikings in that divisional game because the San Francisco 49ers ran all over the line. Yes, the 49ers are on a different level but a better line could’ve stopped some of the bleeding. The Vikings would be much more respectable with a better offensive line.
The Vikings have some decisions to make this offseason, particularly when it pertains to the cornerback positions. Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander are set to hit free agency. The Vikings don’t have a lot of cap room to work with so it will be difficult to keep them. Also, Xavier Rhodes has really struggled and at this point, he has become a liability for the defense. Drafting the cornerback in the first round would be the smart move for the team. If they can just shore up the two positions just a little, they can be a really dangerous team.
The Green Bay Packers were one of the most improved teams in the league last season. They went from 6-9-1 in 2018 to 13-3 in 2019. They won the division, earned a first-round bye, and made it to the NFC Championship Game until they lost to the 49ers. All of this with a first-year head coach in Matt LaFleur. They added a few pieces in Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos to help that defense and they sure helped. This team has a lot of young talent and they are excited about the direction this team is going in. What got this team questioned all year was the lack of personnel as two positions, wide receiver and inside linebacker. They made it far that season and if they get these two positions cleaned up, they will be a sure contender.
The team entered the season lacking star power at the wide receiver position. They had star Davante Adams, who was injured for part of the season, but who else? The Packers had players like Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes Scantling, who are solid but not players you could count on as a number two. Allen Lazard emerged late in the season but they don’t still don’t know what to expect moving forward. Aaron Rodgers is getting older and nobody knows when his time is up. The Packers window is open with Rodgers and it would be smart to get him another wide receiver this offseason.
Getting an inside linebacker this offseason is a huge priority for this team. They entered the season with a hole at the position and they ended the season with a hole at the position. It was one of the reasons why the team got crushed on the ground. Blake Martinez looked like a liability out there at times and lacked that explosiveness. The depth isn’t too strong either so whether or not they bring back Blake or not, they need to make moves at the position.
At least three out of four teams in this division have a shot in 2020. The Lions are the odd team out but if they can hit the offseason hard, and with the talent they already assembled, they could be tough to brush off. All of these teams will be fighting more than ever and it starts with this offseason. It’s possible that whoever wins the offseason will win the NFC North crown. It’ll be yet another interesting year for the NFC North.
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