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 Opposing scouts view of NFC North from SI 
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Post Opposing scouts view of NFC North from SI
Opposing scouts view of NFC North from SI
Enemy Lines: NFC North
An opposing scout's view

Chicago Bears
If you consider that they won the division three years ago with many of the same guys, you'd have to say they have a lot of potential. It's a talented group on defense; the question is how quickly they can transition into Lovie Smith's scheme.... The key for this defense is the two young tackles, Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson, because they have to keep the heat off Brian Urlacher.... Charles Tillman had a good rookie year, but they set things up for him so he always had help. The Cover 2 scheme is similar, so he should continue to develop.... Mike Brown is a special player. He's not the biggest and not the fastest, but he's always around the ball making plays. And one of the other safeties, Mike Green, covers even better than Brown does.... Rex Grossman is a typical Steve Spurrier quarterback: He doesn't have real good arm strength or mobility, but he's smart, gets rid of the ball in a hurry and puts it in the right places.... Thomas Jones jumps out at me, because of his versatility. Last year with Tampa Bay he showed what he's all about -- a guy who not only can take it to the house but also can run inside and catch the ball.

Green Bay Packers
Brett Favre seems like he's getting more careless, but there's still no one I'd rather have in a pressure game.... No other team has a better one-two rushing combination than Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport. Someday Davenport might win a rushing title.... They have a superior offensive line, except Mark Tauscher can be bull-rushed effectively at right tackle.... There are times Javon Walker looks like a star, but he's not disciplined enough as a route-runner.... On defense, now that Gilbert Brown is gone, I'd be worried about the productivity of Cletidus Hunt and Grady Jackson on the inside. They're immature guys, although Jackson was great against the run down the stretch.... Nick Barnett is going to be one of the best linebackers in the league when he gets better in cover situations. He's very instinctive, fast and strong.... I worry about the secondary, with the Mike McKenzie holdout and Al Harris blowing too many coverages on the other side. I'd start at least one of the rookies, Joey Thomas or Ahmad Carroll. Thomas is a big kid who, even though he played at Montana State, is very NFL-ready.

Minnesta Vikings
They've done exactly what they needed to do to compete for a division title. They went to town on defense, and they brought in Ted Cottrell, who's a heck of a coordinator. With ends Kenechi Udeze and Kenny Mixon, the front four should be solid.... In the secondary I like Antoine Winfield. He plays like a guy with a short man's complex: pester you all game and then hit you in the mouth. Brian Russell is a little stiff, more of a straight-line guy, and a lot of those interceptions he got last year came on tipped balls.... E.J. Henderson doesn't have great speed, but he's heady and productive.... Daunte Culpepper has leveled off. He's also very streaky. He can make bad plays at costly times, but when he's hot, look out.... Marcus Robinson will help take some heat off Randy Moss. You can't let Moss get behind you, and you have to bang him when he catches the short ball. The man will stand there and watch sometimes, but when he turns up the juice, he's scary.... Their center [Matt Birk] and both their tackles [Mike Rosenthal and Bryant McKinnie] are good players, and that's why they get away with having average guards.

Detroit Lions
The thing I like about the Lions is they have winning coaches. Steve Mariucci convinces guys they can win. I love the addition of Dick Jauron as defensive coordinator; he's one of the smartest guys in the game, and players love playing for him. Pat Morris is the best line coach in football; he could turn Jeff Backus from a good left tackle into a great one.... The jury's out on Joey Harrington, but I have a feeling he'll be good enough, especially with Roy Williams stretching the field.... Kevin Jones is going to be one of the best backs in the league for a long time. He has great field vision, is very tough and has very good speed.... Shaun Rogers could be a great rushing defensive tackle who can hold the point on the run. The question is, Will he play hard all the time?.... Dre' Bly is overrated because he can be beat deep, but he's their best corner. That tells me the rebuilding there isn't over by a long shot.... Does any team have a better kicker than Jason Hanson? He missed only one field goal last year.

Issue date: September 6, 2004

September 3rd, 2004, 4:53 pm
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