2018 Season Recap: LOL NFC North

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The NFL regular seasons is over for 2018. I can’t belize it. What’s even more unbelievable is the unexpected happened in 2018. The Lions missed the playoffs and the Chicago Bears won the NFC North. Let’s take a look how the season went down.

Chicago Bears: 12-4 and NFC North Champions Monsters of the Midway

How the fuck did this happen? Jon Gruden, that’s how. Idiot Gruden and Reggie McKenzie traded Khalil Mack to the Bears for two first round picks and some other picks. The Bears had the best defense in the league allowing only 17.7 PPG and led the league with 36 turnovers forced.  Chicago notched 50 team sacks in 2018.

Mack was a menace with 12.5 sacks and a high pressure rate. Akiem Hicks played really well to with 7.5 sacks and high pressure. Leonard Floyd became the second fiddle with 4 sacks and rookie 1st round pick Roquan Smith was solid with 5 sacks while blitzing. The monsters of the mid-way are back. Chicago did stay very healthy on defense for the most part which was also a big bonus.

Kyle Fuller had a career year as a number 1 CB after the Packers tried to sign him. The Bears beat the offer and were smart to do so. Fuller had 7 picks and safety Eddie Jackson notched 6 picks including a huge pick 6 on Thanksgiving to win in Detroit. Prince Amukamara was solid as the Bears number 2 CB and Bryce Callahan was pretty good in the nickel role. Adrian Amos had a nice year as well at FS. The Bears strong pass rush and improvement in the secondary made the Bears a very good defense. Vic Fangio is a good DC and may get a call to interview for the 8 open head coaching jobs.

On offense, second year QB Mitch Trubisky took a step forward in year 2 with a 97.5 QB rating with 66% completion 24 TDs and 12 interceptions in 14 games played. Trubisky had much more help with weapons to spread the ball around. Allen Robinson (754 yards and 4 TDs in 13 games), Tarik Cohen (725 yards and 5 TDs), Taylor Gabriel (688 yards and 2 TDs), rookie Anthony Miller (423 yards and 7 TDs) and Trey Burton (569 yards and 6 TDs) were enough for Trubisky. The 36 turnovers by the Bears defense really helped him though.

The Bears run game was solid. Howard had 250 carries but only at 3.7 YPC. Cohen added 444 yards on 99 carries and 4.5 YPC. QB Mitch Trubisky helped himself running the ball with 421 yards at 6.2 YPC. Chicago combined for 16 rushing TDs.

The Bears hosted the defending champion Eagles in the Wild Card round. Nick Foles magic worked again in Chicago with a late TD strike to former Lion and Bear killer, Golden Tate. Codey Parker hit the upright and the crossbar on a tipped ball to lose in hilarious fashion. LOL Bears

Minnesota Vikings 8-7-1 Embarrassment of Riches or Rich in Embarrassment

Embarrassment of riches but what the hell happened. The Vikings defense wasn’t as strong as years past despite very similar personnel. The Vikings tie with Green Bay and loss to the Bills really cost them a wild card spot in 2018. H2CI. Minnesota swept Detroit and beat the Packers at home but lost at the Rams, at the Patriots and at Seattle. The Vikings were swept by the Bears and lost to the Bills and Saints at home. Minnesota did beat the Eagles in Philadelphia who got in ahead of them. The first place schedule with tough away games got the Vikings this year.

Minnesota was 9th on defense allowing 21.3 PPG and 19th on offense scoring 22.5 PPG. Minnesota had 40 sacks on defense but allowed 50 sacks on offense. Minnesota’s offensive line was their biggest downfall in 2018 besides early defensive struggles. The Vikings forced 20 turnovers and gave the ball away 20 times as well.

Kirk Cousins played his first year with Minnesota on his fully guaranteed 84 million contract. Cousins earned a 99.7 rating with 70.1 % completion, 7.1 YPC, 30 TDs and 10 interceptions. His rating was the best in the NFC North in 2018.

Super stud Adam Thielen had another monster season with 1,373 yards and 9 TDs. Stefon Diggs added 1,021 yards and 9 TDs in 15 games. Kyle Rudolph helped with 634 yards and 4 TDs (including the hailmary against Detroit). Treadwell had 302 yards and 1 TD as a full bust.

The Vikings run game had more Dalvin Cook this year but he missed 5 games. Cook rushed for 615 yards at 4.6 YPC in 2018. Latavius Murray added 578 yards at 4.1 YPC. Minnesota notched 9 total rushing TDs.

Green Bay Packers 6-9-1 Arrow to the Knee and Pettine Sucks

The Packers had a disastrous season in 2018 and fired Mike McCarthy before the season was over.

Aaron Rodgers had 97.6 rating with 25 TDs and only 2 interceptions in 15 games worth of snaps. He threw for 4,442 yards at 7.4 YPC but only 64.2%. Rodgers was .1 above Trubisky and below Cousins rating.

Rodgers missed more throws than usual and his weapons just weren’t the same despite adding Jimmy Graham this season. Devante Adams had a monster year in 15 games with 1,386 yards and 13 TDs. This was his first 1,000 yard season.

Everyone else for the Packers had trouble though as offensive weapons. Jimmy Graham had 636 yards and 2 TDs despite a big contract and Randall Cobb only accumulated 383 yards and 2 TDS. Cobb missed 7 games in 2018. The rookies showed some promise though. Valdez –Scantling was the best with 581 yards and 2 TDs. St. Brown added 323 yards.

Green Bay ran the ball well. Aaron Jones rushed for 728 yards at 5.5 YPC. He only carried the ball 133 times though. Jamaal Williams had 464 yards at 3.8 YPC in year 2. Rodgers on a bum knee only had 263 yards and 2 TDs rushing in 2018. The lack of Rodgers rushing did hurt the Packers.

Green Bay was 14th scoring 23.5 PPG in 2018. The Packers only scored 20.0 PPG in 2017 with Rodgers missing half the season. Green Bay scored 27.0 PPG in 2016. Green Bay forced 22 turnovers in 2017 and only 15 in 2018. The Packers missed Dom Capers.

Green Bay’s defense allowed more points under Pettine than Dom Capers too.  Green Bay was 22nd allowing 25.0 PPG in 2018. Green Bay was 26th in 2017 but allowed only 24.0 PPG under Capers. The Packers forced only 15 turnovers and turned the ball over 15 times for a zero differential.

The Packers had big trouble on the road losing 7 of 8 road games (beat the Jets in OT). The Packers lost to the Cardinals at home which led to the McCarthy boot. Green Bay got swept by Detroit in Week 17 losing again at Lambeau Field. Detroit has beat the Packers four (4) times in a row. Green Bay did beat the Bears in Week 1 in an epic come back. The Packers tied the Vikings in Week 2 which cost the Vikings the playoffs. Hang your hat on those two games. The Packers will rely on Matt LeFleur (former Titans and Rams OC) to be their new savior at coach.

Detroit Lions: Fluke 6-10 from Injuries and Bad Refs

The Matt Patricia era got off to a rough start. Injuries and poor ref calls once again screwed over the Lions. Refs cost Detroit the 49ers, Cowboys and Bears (home game). Long-term Injuries to Ziggy Ansah, TJ Lang, Kerryon Johnson, Marvin Jones, Jamaal Agnew really hurt this team. Golden Tate was traded after 7 games which greatly changed the Lions offense and his replacement Bruce Ellington was hurt often. Snacks Harrison was added after 6 games at DT and made the Lions a very good run stuffing team in the final 10 games.

Detroit swept the Packers but were swept by Minnesota and Chicago. Detroit lost at home to Seahawks, Rams and Jets to open the season.  Detroit also lost at San Francisco to Jimmy Garapolo/refs, at Dallas/refs, and at Buffalo with a missed Prater field goal (fluke). The Lions swept Green Bay easily, beat Miami in extreme heat with a huge rushing day, won in Arizona for the first time in a long time, held on against the Panthers at home in a Riverboat Ron two point conversion attempt and crushed the Patriots somehow on Sunday Night football at Ford Field in Week 3. Weird season for wins and losses.

The Lions were 25th in PPG offense and 16th in PPG defense (due to a second half resurgence). Detroit only forced 14 turnovers and allowed 19 turnovers in 2019 (less than Vikings and Bears). Detroit forced 32 turnovers in 2017 and was the biggest difference to only forcing 14 in 2018. The lack of turnovers hurt the Lions offense despite improved run game in Detroit.

The offensive line protection was good the first 6 games but hit or miss the final 10 games after the Lang injury. The Lions allowed 41 sacks on the season with heavier pressure in the final 10 games. Decker, Ragnow, Glasgow and Wagner have the talent to do much more and shored things up in the final quarter of the season and a new game plan.

Matthew Stafford had around 100 QB rating before they traded Golden Tate (Eagles) for a 3rd round pick, even despite the abysmal 4 pick Week 1. He had five games in a row with a 100 rating after Week 1 and 96 rating against a good Seattle defense.  However, then Tate was traded, Lang/Marvin Jones/ Kerryon Johnson/Decker (at Vikings game) were hurt and the wheels fell off the wagon. Stafford was sacked 10 times against the Vikings as the Lions fell to 3-5 and drubbed in Chicago for 3-6 record.

Stafford’s rating fell to an 89.9 rating on the season and he had his first full year without 4,000 yards. Stafford finished with 3,777 yards at 66.1% completion but only 6.8 YPA (no YAC or Marvin deep threat or protection to throw it deeper).

Stafford notched 21 TDs and 11 interceptions on the season. The Lions signal caller had the 4 pick game to open the season then had only 7 in the final 15 games. However, 4 of those were against the Chicago Bears in two losses. Stafford had costly fumbles against San Francisco, Seattle at home, Rams at home and at Minnesota as well trying to do too much. Detroit turned it over less in 2018 (19) compared to 22 turnovers in 2017. Detroit was actually 11th best in league in turnovers allowed in 2018. They just didn’t get the turnovers forced by the defense like in 2017.

The good protection was gone starting in Week 8, then Marvin Jones got hurt along with Kerryon Johnson. All his weapons and protection were long gone. Jim Bob Cooter went ultra-conservative on offense and Stafford suffered. JBC was fired the day after the season.

Stafford hurt his back as well which contributed to his poor performance in the second half of the season. Stafford managed two 100 QB rating days at Buffalo (14-13 loss) and at Green Bay (31-0 win) but the rest of the second half was a mess due to his surroundings/injury.

The Lions run game improved with Kerryon Johnson. Johnson ran for 5.5 YPC on 118 carries and led the Lions despite missing 6.5 games. LeGarette Blount was absolutely terrible despite 2 good games. Blount somehow had 154 carries at an abysmal 2.7 YPC. Blount should be long gone. Zach Zenner filled in well for the injured Johnson at 4.8 YPC on 55 carries. Theo Riddick had 4.5 YPC even. The Lions can run block but Blount was just terrible and dragged the Lions down. Blount will not be re-signed.

The Lions were 23rd in rushing yards but still 28th in YPC at 4.1 YPC (3.4 YPC for 32nd in 2017). They were 23rd in league with 11 rushing TDs. Detroit improved some but missed Johnson after his injury. Way too much Blount this season. He is fat and ruined the Lions run game.

The Lions defense went the opposite way on the season (31st first half but ended up at 16th in PPG). The defense played pretty terrible in 5 of the first 7 games. The lone good efforts were against the Patriots in Week 3 and Green Bay Week 5.

Detroit couldn’t stop the run the first 6 games until they traded for Damon Harrison. Detroit finished 6th in rush defense despite the horrific 6 game start. Harrison is a beast and were on pace for 3rd best based on the final 10 games. Hand and Robinson played really well too at DT for Detroit. Hand missed the final 3 games with an injury (knee).  The Lions DTs became a strength again and should be strong in 2019.

The Lions pass rush was a different story. Detroit had 43 sacks which was good but a low pressure percentage rate.  Ziggy Ansah missed the most Lions games of his career as he missed 9.5 games and was limited in 3 other games during 2018. Ziggy (4 sacks) played well in the 6.5 games he played but the shoulder injury screwed the Lions pass rush for 2018. Ansah was a big waste of 17.5 million on the franchise tag. Detroit should let him walk due to age and constant major injuries.

Devon Kennard and Romeo Okwara were solid and gap sound but very inconsistent in terms of rush at DE. Eli Harold (4 sacks) had a few good games but did nothing after that. Kennard and Okwara did know how to finish though with 7 and 7.5 sacks each. Kerry Hyder did almost nothing a year after his Achilles tear. Harrison had a career best 3.5 sacks and Hand added 3 as a rookie. Ricky Jean Francois had a 2 sack game but not much else. Detroit needs two new pass rushers for 2019.

The Lions LBs improved in the second half of the year. Jarrad Davis blitzed well with 6 sacks and played better in coverage. However, Davis regressed in run defense but improved as the year went on with Harrison in front of him. Christian Jones was average at best and did almost nothing at Will LB. Detroit should replace Jones in 2019. SAM LB should be Kennard if the Lions add two DES. Detroit could switch to more 3-4 as well with Hand, Snacks and Robinson anchoring the Dline.

The Lions secondary was deemed a strength in the offseason but fell apart in 2018. Quandre Diggs (3 ints) played well at strong safety and Darius Slay (3 ints) was good but hurt with various injuries. Slay missed 2 games and missed some snaps in others with nagging injuries. Big Play Slay had nagging ankle and knee injuries and a concussion. Slay had 8 interceptions in 2017 and the Lions missed those turnovers. Slay is a still a shut- down corner and the Lions will get more in 2019.

Glover Quin had old age (33) catch up with him big time for 2018. This is the first season he didn’t force a turnover and he was a step slow on many plays. Rookie Tracy Walker played more snaps in the second half and filled in well at FS as they phased Quin out some. Walker and Diggs are the future at safety for Detroit.

CB2 and nickel were disasters for Detroit. Nevin Lawson was awful until the final quarter of the season. He will be a cap cut easily with a big second year on his deal. Jamaal Agnew got hurt in Week 5 and only returned in Week 16 for one game. Detroit missed him on returns and at nickel.

Teez Tabor is a huge bust of a 2nd round pick and was the worst corner in the league. Detroit got some flashes from rookie undrafted CB Mike Ford but he got beat at times too. Detroit needs a CB2 and nickel CB for 2019.

Detroit greatly failed their expectations in the first year with Patricia. Some of that was due to the referees and injuries.

Imagine the Rams missing Aaron Donald for 9.5 games, Woods and Cooks for half the season and Gurley for 6.5 games. Yeah they would suck too. Imagine the same for the Saints with Cam Jordan oft-injured, Michael Thomas and TreQuan Smith out half the year and Kamara missing 6.5 games. Yep they would suck. Khalil Mack only playing 6.5 games, Allen Robinson/Taylor Gabriel missing half the year and Cohen missing 6.5 games. They would be the 2017 Bears which were nowhere near 12-4 good.

Lost season for Detroit. The 2019 Lions will be ready for revenge.

Summary for 2018

Bears were good because of Mack and turnovers forced with some offensive improvement.

Vikings had a tough schedule and blew it against Packers/Bills. Their defense regressed some but rebounded a bit. The offense didn’t take the next step they thought they could under Cousins despite a 99.7 QB rating. Vikings had a 99.1 rating overall in 2017 as a team. The defense was just a little worse and the schedule much tougher.

Packers fell apart. The offense was off track with a Rodgers knee injury and McCarthy coaching poorly. The defense actually got worse under Pettine compared to 2017 with Capers.

Fluke bad Lions season filled with injuries and bad refs hurting the Lions. Revenge coming in 2019 from Detroit.