First things first, I’m optimistic that the Bears have taken huge strides to improve themselves this offseason already and that they are much closer to the standard set by the NFC North last season.
The one problem with that? This isn’t last season anymore. Big changes are hitting this division and it’s time to take note of what Green Bay, Detroit, and Minnesota are doing.
I’ll start with what is, in my opinion, the scariest signing in the division. This player has a proven track record of being a game changer and being able to dominate the competition. This man has been a freak at his position for years and should be a threat for the next three years on the Green Bay Packers.
That’s right. Jimmy Graham is the biggest signing outside of Chicago in the NFC North this offseason.
You like that, Kirk Cousins?
Jimmy Graham has been written off after his years in Seattle made him look inept. That’s not to say anything against Russell Wilson but more against the current offensive philosophy in Seattle. (To summarize, the only thing offensive about the Seahawks right now is how many players they’re willing to just kick to the curb.)
Let’s get back to the Jimmy Graham signing. His ability to command attention down the middle of the field coupled with a slot playmaker like Randall Cobb is scary by itself without the presence of Davante Adams on the outside.
With Aaron Rodgers still throwing the football. I feel like my fear is reasonable.
A focus on resigning their own players has kept Detroit out of the headlines for the most part. Their decision to cut tight end Eric Ebron has been the biggest headline. I will say the resigning of Ziggy Ansah at defensive end is imposing with his ability as a pass rusher resulting in 12 sacks last year.
The addition of Matt Patricia as Head Coach is… an addition. It’s difficult for me to see him without the benefit of the greatest coach and quarterback of all time giving his defense time to rest and scoring points consistently. The early struggles of the Patriots this season before Tom Brady started his incredibly magic MVP season coincided near perfectly with the rise of the defense. Take note of the Patriots in the Super Bowl this year. Tom Brady was near perfect yet Nick Foles tore Patricia’s defense to shreds in a Super Bowl MVP performance that has half the fans of the NFL convinced he’s some kind of journeyman Messiah.
News flash: He’s not. He’s Nick Foles. If you pay a first round pick for a 29-year-old back-up, you deserve to have that pick taken away. Like Case Keenum in Minnesota, Foles was simply the product of a phenomenal Eagles team that could carry any mid-level quarterback. (This is not meant to discredit Carson Wentz. He did a wonderful job and was my choice for MVP before his injury.)
To help in one of the league’s least efficient running games, the Lions also went out and signed LeGarrette Blount. The bruising running back should be a decent option for the Lions who have finally found a running back that breaks the constant repetitive mold of quick receiving backs. (See: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Reggie Bush).
Let’s talk about the havoc that Sheldon Richardson can wreck between Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen on that Minnesota defensive line. The sheer play-making ability on the line would be terrifying for any offensive line in the NFL.
Sheldon Richardson? That’s the big ticket signing that Minnesota had this off season? No one else? There wasn’t some big time, mouthy quarterback that took the team who drafted him for a ride through franchise tag purgatory?
Fine. Kirk Cousins signed the first fully-guaranteed contract ever for an NFL quarterback.
You shouldn’t be.
Cousins is over-inflated by today’s need for competent quarterback play and this, accompanied with the increasing salary cap, has led to salaries skyrocketing for mid-level players. I may seem biased against this signing but Kirk Cousins has the NFL world loving him after his time in Washington.
We all realize that he has a career 26-30-1 record that hasn’t included a single ten-win season, right? I just don’t have the same fear that players like Jimmy Graham in Green Bay can cause when I think of Kirk Cousins.
I like that signing, Minnesota. Thanks for sending Teddy Bridgewater out of town. I thought I would have to be worried about you for years to come.