NFL insider notes Why 9-7 record might w

  • I find myself fascinated by the NFC North these days.Every coach and executive in the division is either already on notice that change may be in the air, or, in the case of the , has gone out of their way to put themselves on notice by their recent actions. The baffling moves and strange decisions have occurred in droves. Handicap this group as you wish.Whichever team you prefer, it is fair to say that a very strange 2020 has included no shortage of plot twists from this division. At best, a team or two within this division might be moving sideways. But it's difficult to glean a whole lot of progre s by any of them, and if anything this offseason has been about opportunities lost for this collective.The Packers have picked a fight with by continuing to neglect their offensive shortcomings, reaching and trading up to draft his replacement, creating a two-year window to win with their current starter and ignoring pa s catchers by and large at a time when they were being selected at a record rate. The bra s was already informed a year ago publicly and privately that they'd best improve on their 2019 results or else. The coach and GM are entering a lame duck year. The should thank Bill O'Brien for his exploits, lest their decision-makers would be getting more buried then they already are.Green Bay was quite fortunate in my estimation and in that of numerous evaluators I have chatted with to finish where it did a year ago. The Packers lost a stud tackle and haven't upgraded much on offense, are stuck with a defensive coordinator who many would have moved on from, and now have an angry Rodgers on their hands. Godspeed. The Lions had best have a top 10-ish defense this season or heads will roll, and the decision to take over will be watched closely for years. The Vikings are the only team in the division whose draft is earning accolades from executives I trust, but even then there are questions about extending and keeping this group together despite cap i sues and productivity i sues. And the team's hallmark under Mike Zimmer, its defense, has been getting worse each year. Oh yeah, and the whole lame duck thing. And the Bears, well, having all of the tight ends and none of the quarterbacks is probably not the most cogent team building plan, but who knows? Maybe they're stumbled onto something. I mean, trading a fourth-round pick for and his ridiculous $21M in guarantees at a time when and are released and signs for $1M probably is a little backwards.Someone will win this division and reach the playoffs, because, well, some team has to. But this smells an awful lot to me like the NFC East did a year ago, and I'd suggest that 9-7 wins the division and it might not even be that good. think Big Ben could be better post-surgeryCount me among those who believed the Steelers, more than anyone one else in the NFL, should have be courting Jameis Winston. But the Steelers have immense confidence that , at age 38, will be more than up to the task of leading this team, even coming off elbow surgery, and are higher on their backup options than others might be.Steelers GM Kevin Colbert spoke with me with great conviction Thursday when I pre sed him on the team not being active in what may have been the deepest and most significant quarterback market in NFL history. Part of that has to do with how high the expectations are for Big Ben."Optimistically, we're even thinking that he may be a better player coming off the surgery," Colbert said on Inside Acce s on 1057 The Fan radio Thursday. "Sometimes when you have an arm injury and you get it taken care of, there are different things that may lead you to say, well, maybe this has been bothering for more than the one week when he did hurt it. So we're hopeful that he will (be better than before)." As for the backups, part of Colbert's comfort with them stems from his comfort that Roethlisberger will be under center. But if need be, will be the next man up. Pittsburgh is not interested in other QBs."Mason and Devlin (Hodges) both got put in, quite honestly, before we had hoped they would," Colbert said, "but sometimes that happens They got put into a tough situation quick, and Mason responded and as a starting quarterback he was 5-3, and Devlin was 3-3. They both did a lot of good things."Was it good enough to get us in the playoffs? No, it wasn't, so we can never be totally comfortable with knowing that we didn't make it last year, and that puts us in a very precarious position where we have to get back in. But we also feel like we know that Mason learned as he went through that and his best game was his last game, after getting benched, which he deserved and he knew that. And he responded in a very positive way by staying positive and helping Devlin whenever he could And after his benching you saw a guy who was determined to get better and we're confident that he will." , caught in cro shairs of bad decisionsThe ripple effect of the trading for without a contract extension and the dealing for without a contract is something I have been chronicling for quite a while. Tunsil already hit his grand slam, securing $22M a year from O'Brien, and Ramsey will inevitably crush it as well.Two teams may be caught in the cro shairs of these decisions more than any others. The Ravens who hope to extend tackle and corner ASAP and the Bills, who would like to secure the services of left tackle and stud corner into the future, as well. These dominoes will keep falling, and it will make the terrain more difficult to navigate for other front offices. Actions have consequences."Yeah, there are (ramifications for other teams), and it is a busine s," Bills GM Brandon Beane told me this week on Inside Acce s, my radio show. "And at the end of the day on perfect world the guys you are referencing, we do want them to be here. We want them long-term. That is my vision of sustained succe s: draft, develop and sign your own. But, again, it always takes two and some of these guys I am sure they are sitting there like 'Look what this guy got, look what that guy got. I wonder it would be for me in another year.' "But then you also have guys who want the security and want to know what they are getting . So everybody has their own agenda and the guys you referenced (Ramsey and Tunsil), I'm not privy to what the negotiations were with their original teams before they were traded, but those are premium positions and that's why you see your quarterbacks, your pa s rushers, your left tackles and then probably corners and receivers are probably next in line of those guys who their salaries are up there if you are one of the top guys at that position."Bottom line, the Texans and Rams did themselves no favors with their decisions. And they did their cohorts in the league no favors either.