Quick Game Comments: Bears at Vikings


  1. The Bears packed the box to stop Adrian Peterson. It didn’t matter much as, once again, they got pushed around on occasion up front, especially early on. The first touchdown was far too easy for the Vikings.
  2. The Vikings did a nice job of using misdirection to take advantage of the Bears aggressive defense. This has always been their weakness but perhaps never more so than early this game.
  3. The Vikings also occasinally took good advantage of the play action passing that Ardian Peterson sets up on the run game.
  4. On a related note, quarterback Christian Ponder had a reasonable today. Like the last game against the Bears, there were few poor decisions and he was pretty accurate.
  5. In fairness to the Bears defense, though they started poorly they tightened things up in the second quarter. The Bear defense made plays and got them off the field in a reasonable manner from that point on.
  6. Lets not forget to mention that the Bear defense got a lot of help from the Vikings as they continually shot themselves in the foot with things like dumb penalties.


  1. The Vikings obviously didn’t respect the Bears run the same way the Bears respected thiers. They came out with a standard seven in box and never really did anything special to stop it.
  2. Jay Cutler was under plenty of pressure as guys were coming almost unblocked on occasion. This put him in a bit of a bind as the Vikings coverage was mostly better than usual.
  3. The Bears running game struggled on occasion as the offensive line got pushed around again. They were allowing plenty of penetration. The trap plays that were working earlier in the season aren’t working as well anymore as almost everyone has seen it many times on film.
  4. Despite the last comment, I have to say it isn’t like the Vikings were contantly stopping the Bears cold on the run. The Bears did have occasional success as Matt Forte made the most with what he was given, made a lot of yards on his own and had a nice little game individually. The Vikings helped him out by tackling poorly in spots.
  5. Speaking of Forte, I like to see it when the Bears use him as more than a dump off option in the passing game. I’ve said this before but he’s a good receiver and he usually ends up with a linebacker on him.
  6. Once again, Alshon Jeffery flashed his potential today. If he wasn’t always open, it seemed like he was at least getting marginal separation most of the time. Hard not to like his future.
  7. Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler are unbelievable. I can’t remember enjoying watching two Bears play as much as these two for most of this season. Certainly not on offense. Marshall was being triple teamed and making catches. I see it every week and I never cease to be amazed. I’ve never seen anything like it.
  8. Anyone else’s heart stop when Cutler was seen trying to make the tackle on the intereceptions in the first quarter and third quarters?
  9. Interesting decision to replace Edwin Williams with James Brown at left guard. I’ll be interested to find out what the reason was.


  1. Once again the Bears got one of the best of the NFL announcing teams as they drew Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa.
    Johnston was spot on all game as he, for example, pointed out early on that the Bears weren’t matching the Vikings intensity. Siragusa correctly pointed out that the major problem with the Bears running game was that the there was no push on the inside. Both hit the key points all game. Sorry, haters. Nothing bad to say here.
  2. Marshall dropped a big first down. Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester both dropped touchdowns. Those would have been huge plays that would have been a big difference.
  3. the Bears had more than their fair share of penalties and they need to clean it up a bit. But what struck me was how the Vikings kept helping the Bears out by constantly shooting themselves in the foot with stupid penalties. After a nice start to this game, there seemed to be times when they were doing everything they could to give the game away.
  4. The Bears missed Robbie Gould as Adam Podlesh kickoffs were shorter than usual. I thought the Bears return teams were really poor early on. They left the Bears pinned back in poor field position.
  5. The Bears had a fumble they got back. Ponder threw a harmless intereception at the end of the first half. But Cutler’s interceptions were obviously the most damaging as this would have been a different game without the two Viking touchdowns that resulted.
  6. There was lots of slipping and sliding around my both teams today. You would think the footing in a dome on artificial turf wouldn’t be a problem. But something looked like it was wrong.
  7. Obviously this game came down to the interceptions that resulted in two Viking scores combined with good Viking defense and the Bears inability to score on offense. The dropped balls by Jeffery and Hester in the second half were imporant. Those are the big plays the Bears offense is lacking.But nothing really bothered me more this game than the difference in intensity between the two teams in the first quarter. The Vikings came out like a team fighting to stay in the playoff hunt. The Bears definitely didn’t.

    Judging from the comments of players and head coach Lovie Smith last week, I’d say Smith spent his time reminding this team that they were still 8-4. Maybe its time to instill a little urgency instead.

It’s About Character and Other Points of View


  • I’m not too sure about this comment from Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice on the return of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to the lineup. Via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“So that really helps us because when they try to key on Brandon [Marshall], we really have two go-to guys on the field at the same time.”

Jeffery is a step above the other receivers, no doubt. But he’s hardly a “go-to guy” (yet).

  • On a related not, Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times points out that, whether its being done on purpose or not, the “Randy Ratio” is back.

“We’re going back to the fundamentals — what we were doing earlier in the season. We just have to do that to be successful.”

That sounds like a pretty good idea and not just for the defensive linemen. Part of the problem last week was that the Seahawks are a good team that played reasonably well. But the Bears didn’t help with some serious fundamental breakdowns in things like gap discipline. They play their best when they’re playing fundamentally sound.

“Whether or not Brian Urlacher returns from a hamstring injury this year, he’ll be a Bear next season. That comes from highly placed sources inside my head.”

“It’s not so much his straight-line speed that has suffered since injuring his knee in last year’s season finale. He proved he could still run when he chased down Golden Tate from behind after Tate’s 49-yard gain in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. It’s brakes that he lacks. He struggles to plant his feet and re-direct himself. It has looked like he has been playing on ice all season.

“Never before in a season have we seen Urlacher overrun plays he used to make routinely.”

Whether Urlacher has lost some quickness is a debatable issue. But, like most of the players in Lovie Smith‘s aggressive cover two defense, Urlacher has been over running plays on occasion his entire career.

“Moore has excellent ball awareness and ball skills for a corner. But I think coaches were disappointed in the fact that he was not playing more physically. [Kelvin] Hayden is a bigger, stronger defender and better tackler.”

Moore will likely start this week with Hayden replacing the injured Tim Jennings in the lineup.


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune is dead on with this comment:

“The idea has been thrown out there that the Bears could seek retribution on Vikings defensive end Jared Allen for the illegal hit that ended the season of right guard Lance Louis, who suffered a torn ACL in the teams’ first meeting. But it’s football and not a street fight. The Bears’ line needs to be concerned about blocking Allen, who whipped left tackle J’Marcus Webb for 3-1/2 sacks in the meeting at Minnesota last season, not taking him out. The second they divert their attention from blocking Allen will be the moment he turns the corner and zeros in on quarterback Jay Cutler, still not a month removed from a concussion.”

“Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder became engaged this week after he proposed to ESPN personality Samantha Steele with an elaborate setup in which he spelled ‘Marry Me’ using Christmas lights. Sound like a second-year player with his mind fully on the game? Not really. Ponder doesn’t have a lot of help on the outside and that problem is made worse with the absence of Percy Harvin. He possesses a deer-in-the-headlights look too often in the pocket and struggles making plays downfield. At least things are going swimmingly for him off the field.”

  • Pompei gives a scout’s report on Viking safety Harrison Smith: “Opponents should use play action and try to take advantage of Smith’s aggressiveness to get receivers open in the middle of the field.”
  • Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune points out that with Brian Urlacher out and with Adrian Peterson likely to be the Vikings main threat, its a perfect situation to use plays like this one to attack middle linebacker Nick Roach with tight end Kyle Rudolph. I’d expect a lot of this at crucial times.


  • One of the things that head coach Lovie Smith‘s Bears teams are noted for is consistency. They usually beat the teams they should beat because, like their head coach, they never get too high or too low. Most of us consider this to be a good thing. However, its hard not to see that teams who do get up for the Bears usually end up winning because the Bears have not been mentally prepared to rise to the challenge. With that in mind, Judy Batista at the New York Times answers a fan question about the inconsistency of the Giants under head coach Tom Coughlin:

“I don’t think the Giants’ problems are ones of effort – they don’t quit, do they? – I think they are one of execution. Nine penalties is not because they are not trying, it’s because they are sloppy and perhaps not focused enough. The Giants have undoubtedly had a recent history of going up and down. I don’t have any idea how they would be with another coach, but ask yourself this: Would you exchange Tom Coughlin’s results with the Giants for anybody else’s? I’d take the inconsistency in the regular season in exchange for getting on a roll late in the season and into the playoffs any day.”

So would I. I guess the question is, would Bears general president Ted Phillips?

  • Toni Monkovic at The New York Times debates whether the gun control comments from Bob Costas at halftime of the Cowboys-Eagles game was appropriate. The quickest way to get me to change the channel for any sports show, radio or television, is to start talking politics, race or religion. But even I would have to admit that the appropriateness if this topic is debatable given Jovan Belcher‘s murder-suicide.
  • Stuart Miller, again at The New York Times addresses the issue of replacing more injured players on the roster, particularly with the new concussion rules. It appears to me like the idea of a developmental league may be gaining a little steam.

“2011: Robert Griffin, III, QB, Baylor
RG3 is the greatest young quarterback ever.

“2010: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

“Cam Newton works as a professional quarterback in the NFL and is the former greatest young quarterback ever.”

One Final Thought

Here’s another curious comment, this time from David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune:

“If the Ravens can go 4-2 without Ray Lewis, then the Bears should finish 3-1 without Urlacher against a favorable schedule.”

“Favorable”? You’ve got to be kidding. Yes, Arizona is a game the Bears should win but two dome games against a decent team in Minnesota and a team with more talent, if less discipline, in Detroit? And the Packers who have both talent and discipline?

I know everyone wants the Bears to be a sure playoff team but let’s cut them a break and be realistic. That’s a darned tough schedule and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Bears go 1-3 during that stretch with or without Urlacher.

Having said that, Potash takes the opposite approach and addresses the doomsday scenario with the Bears losing all four of their final games. He says they can still make the playoffs at 8-8. I consider both that and the possibility that they Bears will actually lose all of those games to be highly unlikely. I’ll be very surprised if they lose to Arizona and, though the other games are tough, they do have a reasonable chance to surprise me and pull them out. It isn’t like the Vikings and Lions aren’t perfectly capable of playing poorly enough to lose.

I think this quote from wide receiver Brandon Marshall pretty much bottom lines the situation via Haugh:

“Championship teams start to separate themselves in the month of December. Right now it’s about character, want-to and passion and who wants to get it done.”

I don’t think the Bears have the talent to get to 10-6 and a certain playoff berth. But the difference between winning and losing in the NFL isn’t that big and I definitely do believe that they can overcome that deficiency by simply playing better than thier opponents. We’re about to find out what this team is made of.