One of the points of conversation entering the last two seasons was the quarterback depth in the NFC North - the Packers with Aaron Rodgers, our own Bears with Jay Cutler, the Lions having just spent (or blew, depending on your point of view) a first round pick on Matthew Stafford, and
immortal vampire drama queen former legendary Packers quarterback Brett Favre suiting up for the Vikings.
Now, three of those four are still around two years later (well, at least until training camp, then we'll know for sure about the fourth...). But, I'd like to take a look at the guys those quarterbacks have had to work with. Follow me past the jump where we'll take a look at the supporting cast each of these quarterbacks has... and where our Bears rank in the division.
The Packers had so many injuries last season, who knows if we'll recognize anyone beyond Rodgers on the offense. That being said, the line, which at one point was considered a horrible weakness for them, turned into a very serviceable line. Not the best in the NFL, but good enough. The receiving corps is still led by Greg Jennings and veritable dinosaur Donald Driver, but after that, who knows. They just drafted Randall Cobb who can do some things, and if James Jones is gone, there's still Jordy Nelson and Brett Swain. The Packers might have the deepest receiving corps in the NFC. Might. Jermichael Finley adds a very good receiving threat at the tight end position. The biggest question is running back - Ryan Grant is recovering from injury, but how much can the Packers get out of him and how much will they want to work in rookie Alex Green?
We know what the Lions supporting cast consists of: Calvin Johnson and a bunch of real unknowns. I like Mikel LeShoure, however much that might be from playing at my university, but the Lions have so much invested in the running back position over the last few years (first-rounders Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best, and second-rounder LeShoure) that who knows how playing time will be handed out. At receiver, of course Megatron and new rookie Titus Young, but I really think Bryant Johnson and/or Nate Burleson are out the door this offseason. Who picks up the slack then? Does Stefan Logan actually have to play receiver? Hester, he is not. And since they seem to have picked up on the Jerry Angelo School of Late Round Linemen Drafting And Want To Do Other Things Good Too, the line may take a step back from last year.
The Vikings will pretty much have to rely on their supporting cast to bring along Christian Ponder - at least they have the running back position solid. Adrian Peterson is the best pure running back in the NFC. As far as receiver goes, it's no guarantee Sidney Rice returns, and the Vikings couldn't push Bernard Berrian out the door any faster if they had a bulldozer with jet engines. Ladies and gentlemen, the Juaquin Iglesias era! ... Just kidding, Percy Harvin is more in line to take over #1 duties over there. Who else gets playing time? Hank Baskett? Greg Camarillo?
Now the Bears. Matt Forte is probably the most complete running back in the division with two of the better-developing receivers in the division in Bennett and Knox. I'm not putting them in the same breath as a Megatron or Jennings, no way. But they do provide legitimate receiving threats - Knox as a speedster and Bennett catching most everything thrown his way. And Greg Olsen is just as skilled a receiver as Finley is.
There's not a bonafide superstar on the cast, but the Bears have above-average players all around. They can rush better than Green Bay and Detroit, and have better receivers than the Vikings at this point.
So what do you guys think? Where does the Bears' supporting cast rank in the division?