Your education on NFL coaching schemes continues here in the NFC North where two of the four teams are getting a complete coaching makeover while the other two are both sporting new offensive coordinators. You can probably tell which ones we are most bullish on if you’ve studied the fantasy football player rankings and read through the Dynamic Tiers for quarterbacks and the other positions. The key is to take this newfound knowledge, implement it into your fantasy football draft strategy (test it out in a few fantasy football mock drafts) and then carry it over into the 2022 NFL season. Your in-season maintenance on the fantasy football waiver wire as well as the trades you might make are going to look a whole lot better if you embrace the understanding. As someone who, early on in their fantasy analyst career, did not grasp the concept of systems, I can honestly say that, once you do, it is fantasy life-changing.
In case you missed the previous divisions:
NFC North Coaching Systems
|Head Coach||Matt Eberflus||1st year|
|Offensive Coordinator||Luke Getsy||1st year|
|Defensive Coordinator||Alan Williams||1st year|
|Offensive System||West Coast Offense|
|Blocking Scheme||Outside Zone|
|Matt Eberflus -- HC||Luke Getsy -- OC|
|Category||2019 (IND)||2020 (IND)||2021 (IND)||Category||2019 (GB)||2020 (GB)||2021 (GB)|
|Points||DC||DC||DC||Points||QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH|
|Pace||DC||DC||DC||Pace||QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH|
|Pass Attempts||DC||DC||DC||Pass Attempts||QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH|
|Passing Yards||DC||DC||DC||Passing Yards||QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH|
|Rushing Attempts||DC||DC||DC||Rushing Attempts||QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH|
|Rushing Yards||DC||DC||DC||Rushing Yards||QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH||PGC/QB COACH|
The Bears went and got themselves a coaching makeover in the offseason and with it, some new hope. Some might find the “new hope” to be a little bullish, considering they brought in a defensive-minded guy like Mike Eberflus, but he’s assembled his coaching staff in such a way that you can feel good about certain players for fantasy purposes. It starts with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy who most recently served as the Packers quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Then they went out and hired veteran offensive line coach Chirs Morgan who helped Najee Harris rush for over 1,200 yards last year and is credited with turning around run programs in Seattle, Atlanta and Washington over the span of his 14-year career. Eberflus will happily get out of their way with regard to this offensive scheme.
Getsy is installing a west coast-style of offense that is loaded with RPO, something that should suit Justin Fields’ strengths just fine. The offensive line isn’t great, so putting the ball into Fields’ hands and giving him the decision-making power to go run or pass should help him develop into a better reader of defensive schemes. Expect a lot of two-receiver, two-tight end sets with the receiving routes tilting significantly towards the short, high-percentage passes we typically see in this system. There will be deep routes, of course, but the short-passing and the ground game are going to set up the deeper shots as well as the play-action.
The addition of Morgan as the new offensive line coach is probably going to have a greater impact than most realize. He is installing a zone-blocking scheme that predominately features outside zone work which will help neutralize some of the offensive line’s shortcomings. It’s also a better scheme for David Montgomery who actually thrives in outside zone runs, averaging 4.2 yards per carry as opposed to a 3.4 YPC on gap/power runs.
Overall, there are limited expectations with this offense due to the personnel. Fields, Montgomery and Darnell Mooney seem trustworthy but with a suspect offensive line and a very limited group of pass-catchers, fantasy owners may need to invest elsewhere for their starters.
Defensive System: 4-3 base with a Cover-2 zone
If you’ve watched the Colts defense over the past few seasons, then you’ve got a pretty good idea as to what to expect scheme-wise from Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams. Eberflus has been credited with the success of Darius Leonard and was also one of the most vocal about bringing in DeForest Buckner. He loves his defensive line and it shows. Meanwhile, Williams has spent the past four years as the Colts safeties coach and considering the Bears are going to be playing a lot of Cover-2, you can bet Williams is going to have his fingerprints all over how the safeties are used in this scheme.
Eberflus isn’t likely to blitz too heavily as his defensive line is charged with rushing the passer and creating turnovers but don’t be surprised to see them get a little more creative with Roquan Smith up the middle. As everyone else drops back into coverage in the secondary, Smith will have the choice to either bull-rush up the middle and create some havoc in the backfield or drop back into coverage, depending on what he sees.
|Head Coach||Dan Campbell||2nd year|
|Offensive Coordinator||Ben Johnson||1st year|
|Defensive Coordinator||Aaron Glenn||2nd year|
|Offensive System||Erhardt-Perkins/Spread Hybrid|
|Blocking Scheme||Inside & Outside Zone|
|Dan Campbell -- HC||Ben Johnson -- OC|
|Category||2019 (NO)||2020 (NO)||2021||Category||2019||2020||2021|
|Points||TE COACH||TE COACH||25||Points||OFF. ASST.||TE COACH||TE COACH|
|Pace||TE COACH||TE COACH||13||Pace||OFF. ASST.||TE COACH||TE COACH|
|Pass Attempts||TE COACH||TE COACH||15||Pass Attempts||OFF. ASST.||TE COACH||TE COACH|
|Passing Yards||TE COACH||TE COACH||18||Passing Yards||OFF. ASST.||TE COACH||TE COACH|
|Rushing Attempts||TE COACH||TE COACH||21||Rushing Attempts||OFF. ASST.||TE COACH||TE COACH|
|Rushing Yards||TE COACH||TE COACH||19||Rushing Yards||OFF. ASST.||TE COACH||TE COACH|
Addition by subtraction, that’s what this Lions offense is all about. Somewhere around Week 9 or 10 last season, head coach Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties from then-offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. He also went to then-tight ends coach Ben Johnson to help him work through some of the offensive scheme and suddenly this Lions offense was making some noise. They still only won three games, but those wins all came in the second half and this offense actually looked like something resembling a professional football team.
Campbell fired Lynn in the offseason and, as expected, promoted Johnson to offensive coordinator. They will run the same system which is based in Erhardt-Perkins but has several elements of a spread offense even with the run will setting up the pass. The Lions will be a high-volume rushing offense and use a mix of both inside and outside zone runs. Their offensive line is ranked as one of the best in the league right now. They are strong enough to push around the defensive lineman and open up wider running lanes between the tackles, but also mobile enough to do the same for D’Andre Swift on the outside.
As for the passing attack, the Lions made some strong moves to give Jared Goff the weapons he needs to succeed. Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged as a true No. 1 in this offense last season, someone who can stretch the field but also handle work across the middle, so they went signed DJ Chark and drafted Jameson Williams, both of whom can stretch the field with their speed and also contribute to the vertical passing game. Tight end T.J. Hockenson will also be deployed as a pass-catcher and help with the underneath routes.
Defensive System: 3-4 base with multi-front looks and a Cover-2 zone mixed with man-coverage
Last season, the Lions used a 3-4 front much of the time, but with the addition of edge-rushers Aiden Hutchinson and Joshua Paschal, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is looking at more multi-front looks to help disguise where the pressure is coming from on a given play. He is likely to use a 3-3-5 scheme, something both guys saw in college so that he can freely move his linebackers back and forth from the line. It also helps get another defensive back into the secondary which is going to be plenty useful in the middle of the field as the Cover-2 keeps the safeties playing back.
Glenn will also have his defensive backs in man-coverage at times as well. He would have run more of it last year but losing first-rounder Jeffery Okudah really put this second in a bind. Now that Okudah is expected back and the Lions beefed up their secondary with cornerback Mike Hughes and safeties DeShon Elliott and Kerby Joseph, they should be able to slide more into man-coverage at times and get some added pressure on the quarterback.
Players Who Best Fit the System: Aiden Hutchinson, Joshua Paschal, Jeffery Okudah
Green Bay Packers
|Head Coach||Matt LaFleur||4th year|
|Offensive Coordinator||Adam Stenavich||1st year|
|Defensive Coordinator||Joe Barry||2nd year|
|Offensive System||West Coast Offense|
|Blocking Scheme||Inside Zone|
|Matt LaFleur -- HC||Adam Stenavich -- OC|
|Points||15||1||10||Points||O-LINE COACH||O-LINE COACH||RGC/O-LINE COACH|
|Pace||28||32||32||Pace||O-LINE COACH||O-LINE COACH||RGC/O-LINE COACH|
|Pass Attempts||16||24||16||Pass Attempts||O-LINE COACH||O-LINE COACH||RGC/O-LINE COACH|
|Passing Yards||17||9||8||Passing Yards||O-LINE COACH||O-LINE COACH||RGC/O-LINE COACH|
|Rushing Attempts||13||12||17||Rushing Attempts||O-LINE COACH||O-LINE COACH||RGC/O-LINE COACH|
|Rushing Yards||15||8||18||Rushing Yards||O-LINE COACH||O-LINE COACH||RGC/O-LINE COACH|
We get a lot less drama this year than we did last season as there is zero question as to who will be under center. Aaron Rodgers has seemingly made peace with the organization and is ready to take another step towards bringing a championship back to the great state of Wisconsin. Of course, he’s going to have to do it without his top target as Davante Adams jumped ship and headed out to Las Vegas. Allen Lazard seems like the likely successor as he and Rodgers have been working in tandem for a few seasons now and the familiarity is going to be important. The team still has Randall Cobb, they added Sammy Watkins and drafted both Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, but we’re going to have to watch training camp very closely to see who the veteran gunslinger jells with best.
As for the offense in general, head coach Matt LaFleur’s scheme is a west coast-based offense that uses the run to set up the pass. The ground game is predicated on a lot of inside zone runs and the passing is your typical short, quick timing routes to help move the chains with shots being taken downfield. We’ll likely continue to see a rotation of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon which doesn’t excite fantasy owners, but both should see enough work to be viable starts each week, especially if Rodgers starts peppering Jones with targets while he works at getting more comfortable with his receivers. Adam Stenavich takes over as the new offensive coordinator this year which could be even better for the running backs as he’s been the offensive line coach for the past three seasons. LaFleur still runs the show, but perhaps the commitment to the run increases, especially with Rodgers lacking his true No. 1 guy.
Defensive System: 3-4 base with a Cover-2 zone
While the Packers defense is going through some transitional changes this season, the defensive scheme will remain the same here in Joe Barry’s second year as the defensive coordinator. He came over from the Rams last season after learning under the great Wade Phillips and installed a 3-4 base for his front seven and tasked his linebackers with developing the versatility to switch back and forth between rushing the passer and falling back into pass coverage. He doesn’t like to rush more than four, but also uses a heavy-blitzing scheme to throw opposing quarterbacks off-balance. Aggressive but not to the point where he’s hanging his secondary out to dry.
The transition comes in the form of new personnel. The Packers lost defensive end Kinglsey Keke and linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Jonathan Garvin. Replacing them is not going to be an easy thing. They used both of their first-round picks on DE Devonte Wyatt and LB Quay Walker and while both seem to be able to play with the versatility Barry demands, we expect some growing pains for sure. Keep a close watch on how the Packers defend against the run early in the season as that could be something to exploit in fantasy, especially DFS.
As for the secondary, they’ll use Cover-2 primarily with two safeties up top and Jaire Alexander locking down the opposition’s top receiving threat. Depending on where Alexander lines up on each play, the rest of the zones for the secondary will be established. The plan seems solid, but it’s going to require a lot of discipline by the rest of the secondary should they face a team with more than one stand-out receiver.
|Head Coach||Kevin O'Connell||1st year|
|Offensive Coordinator||Wes Phillips||1st year|
|Defensive Coordinator||Ed Donatell||1st year|
|Offensive System||West Coast Offense|
|Blocking Scheme||Flex - Mix of Power/Gap & Zone|
|Kevin O'Connell -- HC||Wes Phillips -- OC|
|Category||2019 (WAS OC)||2020 (LAR OC)||2021 (LAR OC)||Category||2019 (LAR)||2020 (LAR)||2021 (LAR)|
|Points||32||23||8||Points||TE COACH||TE COACH||PGC/TE COACH|
|Pace||26||16||8||Pace||TE COACH||TE COACH||PGC/TE COACH|
|Pass Attempts||28||12||11||Pass Attempts||TE COACH||TE COACH||PGC/TE COACH|
|Passing Yards||32||13||11||Passing Yards||TE COACH||TE COACH||PGC/TE COACH|
|Rushing Attempts||31||7||23||Rushing Attempts||TE COACH||TE COACH||PGC/TE COACH|
|Rushing Yards||22||10||25||Rushing Yards||TE COACH||TE COACH||PGC/TE COACH|
Welcome to the Kevin O’Connell Era, everyone, and welcome to the new-look Minnesota Vikings. While many said the Vikings offense was stuck in the past with its run-heavy scheme created by Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison, it was incredibly effective and made Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and even Kirk Cousins stars in the fantasy realm. That’s not to say that a new offensive scheme won’t be able to elevate the statistical output of said core group, but they’re going to be taking a very different approach.
Let’s start with the pass-heavy tendencies of new head coach Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips. They are still going to maintain the west coast base, but you can expect to see a significant increase in three-receiver sets. O’Connell loves to use 11-personnel, he likes much shorter routes than the Vikings receivers are used to and he likes for his quarterback to drop back and have a quick release. The short, high-percentage throws you’ve seen in most west coast schemes like the Rams, will dominate the play-calling and they will, undoubtedly use the pass to set up the run.
It's no secret that O’Connell and Phillips want to use Jefferson the way they used Cooper Kupp in Los Angeles, but Thielen should also be leaned on heavily just as Robert Woods was prior to his injury. We’re also going to see more of tight end Irv Smith in the passing game, as well as whoever wins the No. 3 receiver job between K.J. Osborn, Bisi Johnson and second-year wideout Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Expect a lot of motion to get the defense to tip their hand look for Cousins to quickly locate the biggest mismatch in coverage.
While all that gunslinging sounds great, the downside comes in the form of what to do with Dalvin Cook and this rushing attack. Cook is an outstanding runner and is expected to remain the bell-cow back, but this team is going to transition from an outside zone-blocking scheme that favored Cook’s running style to more of a mix between zone and power/gap. That’s not to say Cook can’t run in a power/gap scheme, but the offensive line was built for zone blocking and they may not have the size up front to do everything they want. That will likely result in fewer running plays and even more short passes. Hopefully, they can get Cook more involved in the passing attack as he is more than capable and can be a force when running in space.
Be careful not to get too frustrated early in the season if it looks like the Vikings are struggling at times. The transition is going to take some time to perfect and the current personnel has been working within a comfort zone for the past few years. There is a ton of potential to be had, but it just might take a little time in-season to perfect it.
Defensive System: 3-4 base with multi-front looks and a mix of Cover-1, Cover-2 and Cover-3
The Vikings defense is also getting a makeover this season with the hiring of longtime defensive coordinator Ed Donatell who has spent much of his time alongside defensive guru Vic Fangio. The base of his scheme is 3-4, but you can expect a lot of four-man fronts as well as Donatell likes to clog the interior with his defensive linemen while the linebackers and defensive backs handle the outside part of the field. Don’t expect a lot of blitzing, but look for linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter to wreak havoc on the backfield at times.
Donatell’s specialty has always been the secondary and he demands a lot of versatility from his defensive backs, hence the ever-changing zone formations. He also likes to fall into some press-man coverage at time too, depending on the opponent’s strengths at the receiving position. The Vikings addressed these expected changes in the defensive backfield in the draft as they used their first three picks on a safety, a cornerback and a linebacker, all of whom were considered versatile players in college. Given the players they’ve acquired in the draft and in free agency, we should be able to expect some more immediate results here which might be a good place to look if you play in an IDP league.
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