ChatWrap: Defending Air and Space

CanadianCheesehead got me going on one of our hot button issues for 2010, setting off a pass-defense themed SportsNation chat Tuesday:

CanadianCheesehead (Saskatchewan)

Hi Kevin, Last year I asked you what you were most looking forward to watching in the NFC North (you said the QB battle between Favre/Rodgers/Cutler/Stafford). So what about this year? What are you most looking forward to about this season?

Kevin Seifert (2:16 PM)

Among many things, the response of each NFC North team to what is a sizable divisional shift toward the pass. The Bears signed Peppers. The Lions re-made their defensive line. The Packers have changed the positions of four players and have two new starters in the secondary. And the Vikings made a cornerback their top pick in the draft. Whose pass defense does the best job of limiting the newfound passing attacks in this division?

We ended up touching on the secondaries of all four NFC North teams. Some excerpts:


What is the rationale of the Vikes to keeping 3 healthy CBs into a game against the league's most potent passing attack? And if the Vikes need to score in a hurry, are they going to be able to do so with only 4 healthy (ish) WRs?

Kevin Seifert (2:03 PM)

I'm really not sure anyone understands that, unless they think that Chris Cook (knee) or Cedric Griffin (knee) is going to come back quicker than originally anticipated. Otherwise, it's a really thin group -- especially when the No. 4 cornerback appears to be your backup safety. (Husain Abdullah)

(Update: Coach Brad Childress told reporters Tuesday that Griffin hasn't been ruled out but strongly hinted he has significant progress left before he is deemed fit to play. Childress also said that several practice squad players will make the trip to New Orleans, suggesting that rookie Marcus Sherels could be activated for emergency depth.)

Jeff (Cleveland)

Were you surprised with the Lions releasing Bly and keeping the least experience backfield in NFL history?? Also, how many wins do you see the Lions improving this year??

Kevin Seifert (2:19 PM)

It didn't bother me at all. There's nothing worse than being bad and old. If the Lions are going to be short-handed in the secondary, I'd rather it be because they were giving younger players a chance to grow into their positions than because they wasted time with veterans who have already proved their limited effectiveness.

Mason Carter (Denver)

Do you see the packers making any moves in the secondary? I would really like to see them trade for a corner who could give us some help. Is there anyone out there that is out of favor with their current team we could trade for?

Kevin Seifert (2:09 PM)

Understood, but this time of year, everyone would like a cornerback who could give their team some help. There just aren't many of them out there, and never do good ones become available on the relative cheap. The Packers' best hope is that some of their oft-injured players, Brandon Underwood chief among them, recovers quickly and can jump back in the lineup in a productive way. I'm not any more comfortable than you are with a rookie (Sam Shields) at nickel.

Mo (Chicago)

Is Zach Bowman a legit #1 cornerback?

Kevin Seifert (2:45 PM)

He's a legit ballhawk. Time will tell if he's got blanket coverage skills or not.