News From The North #3

Welcome to the third edition of News From The North! This is your destination for updates on the NFC North, released the first and third Saturday of every month. This report includes game recaps, roster moves, coaching changes, injury reports, pregame analysis and more.

Since our last report (which can be found here), the last team in the division has had their season ended. It is officially the offseason for the NFC North.

The Minnesota Vikings:

Roster Moves/Coaching Changes:

Kevin Stefanski has been hired as the full-time offensive coordinator. Stefanski has been with the team for several years and filled in as interim offensive coordinator after John DeFilippo was fired following the Week 14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will not be returning in 2019. He has penned a contract with the Cleveland Browns. The ST position is currently vacant.

Gary Kubiak has been hired as the assistant head coach/offensive advisor. Kubiak’s last position in the league was as head coach for the Denver Broncos, leading them to a Super Bowl 50 victory. Kubiak is a veteran coach on the offensive side of the ball, with 10 years of head coaching experience (primarily with the Houston Texans) and 12 years as offensive coordinator (primarily for the Broncos). Kubiak was Denver’s OC when they won back-to-back Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII.

Kubiak’s son Klint has been hired as quarterbacks coach.

The tight ends coaching job will be filled by Brian Pariani. Pariani has over 20 years of experience working with Gary Kubiak.

Wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell will not be returning in 2019. The position is currently vacant, but Drew Petzing is a potential replacement.

Up Next:

The 2019 NFL Draft begins on April 25th, where the Vikes will have the 18th overall pick. Until then, the Pro Bowl is on January 27 in Orlando, where the purple and gold have four representatives:

  • DE Danielle Hunter, 1st appearance
  • WR Adam Thielen, 2nd appearance
  • LB Anthony Barr, 4th appearance
  • S Harrison Smith, 4th appearance


The Detroit Lions:

Roster Moves/Coaching Changes:

The Lions have appointed Mike Disner as Vice President of Football Administration. Disner was an executive for the Arizona Cardinals, starting there in 2013. Before that he worked directly for the league in various capacities.

Darrell Bevell has been named the new offensive coordinator, filling the vacancy left by Jim Bob Cooter. Bevell has extensive experience as an OC. His previous position was OC for the Seattle Seahawks. He was there for seven years, including the Seahawks back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2013-14. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, where he spent five years with the team.

Up Next:

The Lions will have the 8th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The blue and silver have two representatives in the Pro Bowl this year:

  • LS Don Muhlbach, 1st appearance
  • CB Darius Slay, 2nd appearance


The Chicago Bears:

The only NFC North team to make the playoffs, the Bears suffered a heartbreaking defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round. In a cruel twist of fate, the game came down to a field goal attempt by Bears kicker Cody Parkey who would hit the left upright AND the crossbar of the goal post before the ball would fall on the wrong side, losing the game. What makes it worse is he made the 43-yard attempt moments before but was iced by the Eagles seconds before the snap. After the game, the NFL officially changed the ruling from a miss to a block, as video shows the kick was tipped by the Eagles’ Treyvon Hester.

Game Recap:

This matchup was extremely defensive, with no touchdowns scored by either team until the tail end of the third quarter. With each quarterback throwing the ball over 40 times, Aerial Attack was the name of the game. The game had only 107 combined rushing yards, with Chicago allowing their second least rushing yards in a game this season and causing two turnovers.

In passing, Mitch Trubisky threw the ball 43 times for 26 completions, 303 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, and 2 sacks/12 yards. Trubisky had an 89.6 passer rating. Despite throwing the ball the most times in this game since the Bears’ matchup in Foxborough, Trubisky threw zero interceptions in his last 4 games.

In receiving, Allen Robinson had 10 receptions for 143 yards and 1 touchdown. This was Robinson’s best game of the season, with season highs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. This was also his first game with a touchdown since Week 10 against Detroit.

In rushing, Jordan Howard carried the ball 10 times for 35 yards. Howard did not find the end zone this game, ending his streak of 3 games with a touchdown.

In kicking, Cody Parkey was 3/4 on field goal attempts. Parkey finishes the season with a made field goal percentage of 76.7%, his lowest since 2015 where he played for Philadelphia. The Bears tried for a two-point conversion on their only touchdown, which failed. Punter Pat O’Donnell kicked the ball 6 times for 243 total yards. The only other game the Bears punted 6 times this season was against the Giants in Week 13.

Roster Moves/Coaching Changes:

The following players were signed to reserve/future contracts:

  • LB Jameer Thurman
  • OL Dejon Allen
  • DL Abdullah Anderson
  • RB Ryan Nall
  • LB James Vaughters
  • LB Josh Woods
  • WR Tanner Gentry
  • WR Cyril Grayson
  • DB John Franklin III
  • DB Michael Joseph
  • DB Jonathon Mincy

Chuck Pagano was named defensive coordinator following Vic Fangio’s move to Denver. Pagano, 58, has an extensive coaching history both in college and the NFL. He spent most of his career on the defensive side of the ball before becoming head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, where he accrued a record of 53-43 and winning three playoff games.

The Bears have also added Ted Monachino to the defensive staff. Monachino was the defensive coordinator for the Colts in 2016-17.

Safeties coach Roy Anderson and outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley were not retained by the team. Staley has followed Fangio to Denver.

Up Next:

The Bears traded their first-round pick in the upcoming draft to the Oakland Raiders as part of the deal to acquire Khalil Mack. Their second-round pick was also traded, part of a deal with the New England Patriots in the 2018 draft. The Bears will have to either trade up or wait until the third round to select a rookie player.

The Windy City has 5 representatives in the Pro Bowl this year, the most of any team in the division:

  • DE Akiem Hicks, 1st appearance
  • CB Kyle Fuller, 1st appearance
  • S Eddie Jackson, 1st appearance
  • RB Tarik Cohen, 1st appearance
  • OLB Khalil Mack, 4th appearance


The Green Bay Packers:

Roster Moves/Coaching Changes:

The biggest coaching change in the division, the Pack has hired Matt LaFleur as their new head coach. LaFleur has been an offensive coordinator in the league the past two years and has extensive experience as a quarterbacks coach. You can read my detailed analysis of LaFleur and his future in Green Bay here.

Nathaniel Hackett has been hired as the new offensive coordinator. Hackett has been an OC for several teams, most recently the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Up Next:

The Cheeseheads will have the 12th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. This year Green Bay has two representatives going to Orlando:

  • QB Aaron Rodgers, 7th appearance
  • WR Davante Adams, 2nd appearance


As always, special thanks to ESPN and Pro-Football-Reference for all statistics. Please subscribe to our Patreon to get exclusive content and perks, and follow me on Twitter @somekidadam to stay up to date on all things Vikings! SKOL