All the NFC North Team Needs for 2023
The 2023 season has the makings of an interesting and competitive year. The Minnesota Vikings will look to win back-to-back division championships for the first time since 2008-2009.
Meanwhile, the much-improved Detroit Lions will search for their first division title since 1993. In Green Bay, the Packers will be hoping 2022 was a blip and they can return to being the dominant force in the division. As for the Chicago Bears, they will hope to improve from being the worst team in football.
All the NFC North Team Needs for 2023
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus gave his opinion on the NFC North teams’ needs for 2023, choosing one position for three teams and declaring the Bears need everything. Interior defensive line and cornerback are certainly priorities for the Vikings and Lions respectively. A dynamic tight end would be nice for the Packers, but it strikes me as an odd choice.
Let’s look at the four teams in the north division and expand on what each team needs to do during the offseason — or, in the Bears case, narrow down.
Saying they need to improve everywhere is easy to suggest. As owners of the number one pick, they were the worst team in football in 2022. You can’t fix everything in one offseason, so where should the Bears start?
The answer is simple. Chicago’s defensive line was poor in 2022 and needs a major revamp. Alabama’s edge defender Will Anderson Jr. would seem to be the pick if Chicago stays at number one in the draft. He could still be in play if they trade back for a haul from a QB-needy team.
Otherwise, the likes of Myles Murphy, Jalen Carter, or Bryan Bresee could be the pick. With plenty of cap space, adding a couple of veterans alongside the chosen rookie via free agency or trade is the way to go.
On the other side of the ball, the Bears will stick with Justin Fields. He’s shown enough with his legs to warrant sticking by him while trying to fix the rest of the team. A stud wide receiver to help the quarterback out would be beneficial. If he doesn’t show enough progression as a passer over the next two seasons, Chicago can look to draft another quarterback, hoping to bring them into a stronger situation than Fields found himself.
With great success, Dan Campbell installed an “us against the world” underdog mentality in Detroit. However, the Lions will go into the 2023 season with the weight of expectation on their shoulders. They will be expected to compete for the division — confident Lions fans appear to expect them to win it. It becomes a different game when you are expected to win, so what do the Lions need to do to get there?
Cornerback is the obvious starting point. The Lions somewhat solved their poor defense of the first half of the season with a much-improved effort during the second half. However, former third-overall pick Jeff Okudah has never lived up to the billing of such a high draft pick. Partnering him with someone who can be the CB1 and take the pressure off him would be a massive move for the Lions.
The Lions should stick with Jared Goff at quarterback and continue to fill out their roster, concentrating on the defense this year, to eventually draft a QB in the next year or two who will land in an almost perfect scenario.
Green Bay Packers
As previously stated, a dynamic tight end in Green Bay would be nice and complete the offensive side of the ball — depending on what happens with the now-yearly Aaron Rodgers offseason circus.
However, defense is where I feel the Packers need to concentrate. They had the best defense in the division, though that was more down to how bad the other three teams were. Green Bay’s defense wasn’t up to the standards in recent times.
The Packers need to improve on all levels of the defense, but they were particularly bad against the run. Up front is where to start, and then work backward to the secondary. With things looking tight with the salary cap and not a huge amount of room to maneuver to make savings, Green Bay will look mainly to the draft for reinforcements and must draft well. A strong defensive unit will be critical to the Packers chances of getting back to the division’s top.
Except for edge defenders — assuming Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith stay in Minnesota — the Vikings need help everywhere on defense. The unit hasn’t been good enough for three straight seasons. How a team with such a bad defense managed to win 13 games in 2022 is a mystery.
With new defensive coordinator Brian Flores in place, there is optimism that an improved Vikings defense can turn the Vikings into a real team to be reckoned with.
For that to happen, the talent on the defensive side of the ball needs to be significantly improved. The Vikings defense needs to get younger and faster and should be more aggressive under Flores. A cornerback, linebacker, and interior defensive linemen will be top of the offseason shopping list.
That’s not to say the offense is to be forgotten about. On the contrary, despite carrying the team in Kevin O’Connell’s first year, there are a couple of noticeable improvements to make. The interior offensive line, despite progress, still isn’t good enough with Garrett Bradbury — a free agent the Vikings have a decision to make at center — and they should also look at bringing in competition at guard, plus a long-term running buddy to partner Justin Jefferson at wide receiver.
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