Scouts Inc.: NFC North team profiles
Analyzing team philosophies and offseason observations for NFC North teams
Scouts Inc. takes a look at all 32 NFL teams, grouped by division, heading toward the 2011 season (whenever it arrives), examining offseason observations, the decision-makers and the offensive and defensive philosophies of each team.
Offseason observations: The Bears didn't have very high expectations entering the 2010 season, but they played better than expected, and their 11-5 record was a pleasant surprise. They played excellent defense for most of the year by creating turnovers and they were exceptional against the run. On offense they achieved better balance with the run game by midseason, but the passing game and blocking up front are still a work in progress. While this is a good team, it is not an elite one, and it overachieved last year, particularly through a run of good health.
Organizational structure: General manager Jerry Angelo has all the power to make personnel decisions, but he is a guy who will listen to the people around him. His most trusted aide is personnel director Tim Ruskell, who comes from Seattle. These two worked together for 13 years in Tampa Bay and there is a lot of trust between them. They listen to their scouts and the coaches, especially Lovie Smith, have a significant say in personnel acquisitions. This is a well-defined front office, and most of the time they are on the same page.
Offensive philosophy: It took awhile, but coordinator Mike Martz adjusted his schemes at midseason, going from a pass-happy attack to a much better run:pass ratio. By nature, Martz loves multiple-receiver sets, motion before the snap to confuse defenses, and he even likes to show empty backfield looks. However, Smith is a run-oriented coach, which affects the play calling. They like to call a lot of deep crossing routes, and Martz also likes to throw to his backs.
To see the rest of the 2011 team profiles for every team in the NFC North, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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Scouts Inc. examines the philosophies and team needs of every NFL franchise before the NFL draft.
April 19: AFC East
April 20: AFC West
April 21: AFC North
April 22: AFC South
April 23: NFC South
April 24: NFC West
April 25: NFC East
April 26: NFC North