The NFC North was an exciting but flawed division in 2022. Much of that dysfunction came on the defensive side of the football.
The Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings make up a quartet aka the “Black and Blue Division.” These longtime rivals have engaged in some bruising battles over many decades.
In 2022, the only thing that took a beating in the NFC North was the club’s defensive unit. There was nothing very fearsome about this foursome and it starts with the team from the Windy City.
Last offseason, the Bears hired former Indianapolis Colts’ defensive coordinator to be the team’s newest head coach. The club finished with the worst record in the NFL and owns the top pick in April’s draft. The club finished the season riding a 10-game losing streak. The Bears finished 2022 having given up a league-high 463 points.
Yes, rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson wound up being a bright spot for Dan Campbell’s Detroit Lions. However, the improving club from the Motor City, as well as the division champion Minnesota Vikings, each wound up allowing exactly 427 points. That was tied for the third-most in the league.
Campbell’s defense began to make some strides during the second half of 2022. Then came a Week 16 appearance at Carolina in which coordinator Aaron Glenn’s unit surrendered an incredible 570 total yards, including 320 yards on the ground.
All told, the Lions allowed the most total yards per game in the league, and the Vikings allowed the second-most total yards and passing yards per contest. The Bears were 29th in the NFL in total defense, including next-to-last when it came to stopping teams on the ground. The Packers were a defensive juggernaut in comparison (17th) to their NFC North neighbors, but Joe Barry’s unit was a dismal 26th in the league vs. the run.
It would not be a shock to see each of these four franchises address their defenses in the first round of April’s draft. The Bears could deal that top overall pick and perhaps pick up more selections to aid the league’s worst unit in 2022. The Lions have a pair of first-round picks and the Packers and Vikings (the latter fired coordinator Ed Donatell this offseason and replaced him with Brian Flores) select 15th and 23rd, respectively.
Meanwhile, who knows what each of these teams will do in free agency? Let the defensive tweaking begin!