Football Outsiders: Remaining needs

May, 18, 2013
5/18/13
12:00
PM ET
Football Outsiders, a statistics-based analysis service, has been producing division-by-division Insider files on remaining team needs. You'll need a subscription to read the entire NFC North post Insider, but below I've taken a few excerpts and written a few things about them.

Chicago Bears
Football Outsiders' issue: Receiver
Football Outsiders comment: "When we pointed to wide receiver as a major flaw for the current Bears early in the offseason, it was to the consternation of a lot of Bears fans who saw the offensive line as the larger issue. The problem is that Jay Cutler is a see-it, throw-it passer. He's still a solid quarterback, but he's never thrown receivers open on a consistent basis. That amplifies the Bears' receiving problems, and while scheming can create the occasional big play for Devin Hester, Eric Weems, or Earl Bennett, they can't defeat man coverage often enough to benefit Cutler."
Seifert comment: I'm not on board with describing Cutler as a "see-it, throw-it" passer. If anything, his arm strength and velocity give him too much confidence when it comes to throwing receivers open. (The phrase refers to putting the ball in a place that an otherwise covered receiver can catch it). I wouldn't argue that Bears' need for additional depth behind Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Bennett, but it's not because of any passing limitation on Cutler's part. There's just not much else behind them, especially as long as Hester works solely with special teams.

Detroit Lions
Football Outsiders' issue: Offensive line
Football Outsiders comment: "The strength of this line in recent seasons has been pass blocking, as Detroit's offense has finished in the top 10 in adjusted sack rate for the past three seasons, but that is likely to take a hit from this offseason's turnover."
Seifert comment: On the other hand, the Lions' new offensive line might be a better run-blocking group. That aspect has taken a back seat in recent years. I do think, however, that it's worth being concerned about putting your franchise quarterback behind a line with at least three first-time starters.

Green Bay Packers
Football Outsiders' issue: Offensive line
Football Outsiders comment: "[M]uch like the Lions, the Packers are putting their faith in their quarterback to evade the pass rush this season. Unlike the Lions, the Packers don't have a lot of personnel turnover in this unit, but, also unlike the Lions, they finished second-to-last in adjusted sack rate last season."
Seifert comment: There would be those who suggest that flipping the left and right sides of your line is football version of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. But every quarterback needs more help from their blind-side pass blockers. If you're going to have a strength and a weakness, it makes sense to shore up the left side first.

Minnesota Vikings
Football Outsiders' issue: Middle linebacker
Football Outsiders comment: "Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway can take care of things in Leslie Frazier's nickel fronts, but the base 4-3 is lacking a thumper after Jasper Brinkley's departure in free agency. (Of course, given Brinkley's broken-tackle rate, they probably were lacking one even if he had come back)."
Seifert comment: The Vikings clearly fell short in their attempts to find a long-term solution at this position during the offseason. They will give Henderson a chance to grow into it during organized team activities, but he was not their first choice. This position could well be atop their list of 2014 needs as well.

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