Bears vs Vikings: 5 Things We Learned from Minnesota's 17-13 Loss
The Chicago Bears entered this contest on a five-game losing streak after a promising 7-2 start, while the Minnesota Vikings were fresh off of their win over the Washington Redskins, a win that halted a six-game losing streak of their own.
The lessons in this particular contest, however, were interestingly different in certain instances, but for more on that, you'll have to read why.
Pondering Blitz Packages
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Christian Ponder has struggled heavily against blitz packages that feature five or more players coming his way.
Ponder has completed just under 40 percent off his passes against those packages and developed a penchant for interceptions against those packages as well—a situation we again saw against the Bears.
With the way Joe Webb is playing at QB, Ponder must improve greatly in this area next year if he is to not only stave off Webb, but also find success in the NFL as a QB.
Speaking of Joe Webb...
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After sparking the Vikings to a win over the Redskins last week, the dual-threat athlete was once again asked to take over the reins for Christian Ponder, who suffered an early hip injury, moving the Vikings just as methodically as he did a week ago.
The Vikings are going to have a lot to think about in the offseason with Webb, Ponder and the draft, but one thing we learned this week against the Bears is that Webb looks more like the real deal at QB right now.
All Is Good with the Ground Game...But
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Toby Gerhart once again proved that he is more than just a back-up running back, rushing for 67 yards on 15 carries, but with Adrian Peterson's knee injury threatening to keep him out even after the opening week of NEXT year, the Vikings ground assault could be compromised.
The interesting notice to this issue will be the heightened emphasis on finding another quality receiver on the outside that will be an immediate threat in an effort to counter this dilemma.
Thankfully, the Vikings know they can count on Gerhart to carry a full workload, but they may want to also find another backup runner for depth purposes.
Coverage Should Now Be Focal Point No. 1
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We already knew that the Vikings couldn't cover at all, but it was clear in Sunday's contest that this team needs significant upgrades in their coverage department.
The deep ball is what has hurt this team all year long, and against Josh McCown—a guy who was coaching high school football just a few weeks ago—this squad still gave up three deep passes before the close of the first half.
The problem also has seeped into the linebackers, particularly with E.J. Henderson, who has been a passing liability since day one.
With so many leaks in the passing defense, the Vikings should make this area their No. 1 area of repair this season.
A Bright Future Is Better Than a Bleak One
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We all know of the deficiencies this Vikings team has had all year, but we also have seen, at times, this team turn a full 180 and play the way we think they can. Such was the case against the Bears.
It is because of these glimmers of hope that many can put faith into the idea of the future looking brighter than perhaps it suggests.
The offseason and 2012 NFL Draft will greatly aid in this team's pursuit to add quality players, and the stock they have now is better than average when they are at full strength, further suggesting what is on the horizon.
A few minor tweaks, some preparation and a few deletions/replacements, and the Vikings will be way on their way toward divisional dominance.