The Packers should improve on defense more than the Bears next year, and not just because Green Bay fired twice as many assistant coaches (six to three). Quick Shots likes Chicago hiring Rod Marinelli to coach the defensive line, but Green Bay switching to the 3-4 defense under Dom Capers is an even better move.

The Packers should improve on defense more than the Bears next year, and not just because Green Bay fired twice as many assistant coaches (six to three). Quick Shots likes Chicago hiring Rod Marinelli to coach the defensive line, but Green Bay switching to the 3-4 defense under Dom Capers is an even better move.

One reason the AFC tends to dominate the NFC is far more AFC teams play a 3-4 defense. This year the breakdown was six in the AFC, two in the NFC. Those six include the Steelers and Ravens, ranked No. 1 and 2 in defense, the three-time Super Bowl champion Patriots and the Chargers, who have won three consecutive AFC West titles. It’s a particularly good move for Green Bay, which didn’t have three reliable defensive linemen last year, much less four.

No reason to gripe about WBC

The Yankees, Angels and Cubs have publicly asked some of their players to skip the World Baseball Classic. Chicago newspapers and sports radio stations hate the WBC. Why is it all the loudest complaints come from the biggest markets? The Twins have 18 players on provisional WBC rosters, more than any other team, and you don’t hear complaints emanating from Minnesota.

Complaints shouldn’t come from anywhere. This isn’t the Olympics or the World Cup stealing players. Bud Selig created the WBC. If owners don’t want their players to risk injury, they shouldn’t have let their commissioner create it. And players love to play for their country.

A rivalry with respect

The Ravens and Steelers are rare heated rivals who respect each other. After winning the AFC title game, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters the Ravens “bring out the best” in the Steelers.

“They’re part of the reason we are who we are,” he said. “Iron makes iron sharp.” We need more of that kind of talk in sports.

Picking wins over friends

Remember when Lovie Smith ran off Ron Rivera so his friend Bob Babich could be defensive coordinator? The Steelers’ Mike Tomlin had the same chance, but didn’t make changes when he inherited a strong defense two years ago.

“It would have been foolish for me to fix something that wasn’t broken,” Tomlin told reporters. “It would have been ego driven. My ego doesn’t drive me, seeking victory does.”

If the Bears ever go looking for a role model, I suggest the Steelers.

No cap, but a smaller share

How’s this for irony: baseballthinkfactory.com reports only 52 percent of baseball revenues goes to players. That means players get a smaller slice of the pie in the one sport to fight off a salary cap than in the NFL, NBA and NHL, which all have salary caps.

Defense wins championships?

The three teams to allow the most points and reach the Super Bowl have all done so in the last three years. And the first two won: The 2006 Colts and the 2007 Giants. The Cardinals could make it 3-for-3.

Bears defense better than meets the eye

Could the Bears (9-7) have made the Super Bowl if they had sneaked into the playoffs the way the Cardinals (9-7) did and the Eagles (9-6-1) almost did? Maybe. Because of their defense. Really. Coldhardfootballfacts.com invented a Defensive Hog Index last year. The index is 19-2 in picking playoff winners the last two years. The index rates a defensive front seven on three categories: yards per rush, percent of negative pass plays and third-down conversions. The Bears tied for sixth in the NFL. The Cardinals (17th) reached the Super Bowl by beating the Falcons (23rd), Panthers (19th) and Eagles (second). The Eagles beat the Vikings (fourth) and Giants (ninth). The Steelers, by the way, have a perfect ranking of 1. The Bears were 9.7 and the Cardinals 19.3.

Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.