Scouts Inc.: NFC North team profiles

Analyzing team philosophies and offseason observations for NFC North teams

Originally Published: April 26, 2011
By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.
Leslie FrazierJeff Fishbein/Icon SMICan this Minnesota Vikings team make a run or is it time to rebuild?

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.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

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.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.