INDIANAPOLIS -- Every offseason, the Green Bay Packers' coaching staff spends a week studying each of the NFC North opponents.
Those sessions will be more involved this year.
With two new coaches in the division – Mike Zimmer in Minnesota and Jim Caldwell in Detroit – the Packers will have to make some predictions about what they think the Vikings will look like under the direction of the former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator and what the Lions will do under the former Indianapolis Colts head coach who was most recently the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator.
“It’ll obviously be different,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the NFL scouting combine. “There will be some projection in how we think Detroit is going to play, how we feel Minnesota is going to play.”
When it comes to the Vikings, McCarthy said they will spend time studying the Bengals, a team they played (and lost to) last season. There’s also plenty of film on what their offense should look like under veteran coordinator Norv Turner.
But not everything will be easily deciphered, especially with a first-time coach like Zimmer, who is bound to implement some of his own new ideas.
“I take a lot away from the things that [Bengals coach Marvin Lewis] did in Cincinnati – the way he was with players, his schedules and a lot of different things,” Zimmer said. “I’m looking at a lot of his schedules, but what I want to try and do is put it the way I want it. I want it to be Mike Zimmer’s schedule, not Marvin Lewis’ schedule. I want it to be Mike Zimmer’s team, not Marvin’s team.”
If this year’s schedule mirrors last year’s, it could also aid in the Packers’ preparation. In 2013, the Packers did not play a division game until Week 5 and played five of their six NFC North games from Week 8 on. All Week 17 games are division games.
“I think the way the league has gone with the scheduling, division games do come a little later normally, so I’m hopeful that will hold true,” McCarthy said. “I think that helps you a little bit because once these teams get four, five games under their belt their identity is shown and how they want to play. It gives you a little better idea how you’re going to stack up against them.”