The Chicago Bears, sitting just below .500 and coming off of a crushing 24-13 loss to division rival Detroit, will play another division game as they host the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday at Soldier Field. The Vikings are coming off of earning their first win of the year, a 34-10 affair over the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.
The Bears have been horrible in just about every aspect of the game except for running the ball. They struggle getting the ball to their receivers, those same receivers struggle to catch the ball and the offensive line allows Cutler to get beat up in each game he plays in. On defense, the Bears have a hard time stopping anyone through the air or on the ground and the defense is not anything close to what it has been over the past few seasons.
Penalties kill the Bears as well and their offensive line was the culprit on many of them.
Can Chicago pull it back together and beat the Vikings on Sunday or is this team so bad it could end up losing to this lowly Minnesota team and prove to everyone that they are a team headed on a downward spiral.
Let’s find out as we take an in depth look at the Bears versus the Vikings contest coming up this Sunday at Soldier Field.
When the Bears have the Ball
Where do you start when it comes to the Bear’s offense? With the rushing attack. Matt Forte has been a one man wonder this season and is a big reason why the Bears have won two games this season. He’s responsible for more than half of the Bear’s yards on offense and will surely get used a lot in their game this Sunday.
But Forte is on pace to break down after being used so much and hopefully the Bears coaching staff realizes this and plans to do some other things on offense. The problem is, if they try to do these things they might end up failing. Nothing is working right for the Bear’s offense as they have struggled to pass, struggled to pass protect and have struggled to get the ball down the field to their receivers.
There are two thing that the Bears can’t do to make the passing game work. One is block pass rushers when Cutler drops back to pass and the other is catching the ball. The Bears struggle a lot in both of those areas against the Lions and it doesn’t look there is any relief in sight for Cutler.
One thing, besides the running game, that could help take the pressure off of Cutler is to have him take fewer seven drops and take less time to get rid of the ball. Perhaps even working him out of the shotgun (not a staple of the Martz offense) would be a good idea to give him somewhat of a head start on the pass rush. Keeping in extra blockers would be a good idea as well and the Bears did that a little bit against the Lions with some success.
The offensive line continues to be a shambles and there are more problems on that unit than the Bears can fix. Right tackle Frank Omiyale, who is in for the injured Gabe Carimi, has been playing like a revolving door and has no business being in the lineup. Hopefully Carimi will be able to come back and play soon.
Others on the offensive line have struggled as well and overall this unit is a mess. Perhaps they will be able to get into shape against the Vikings but with guys like Jared Allen coming at Cutler on each and every play it’s going to be difficult.
This may sound like a broken record but for the Bears to have success in their game against the Vikings they are going to have to protect Cutler and run the ball. The running game should be able to work for the Bears but when they get in those third and long situations the passing game is the key to converting and the passing game has been consistently failing to convert those third and long situations.
The Bears have a lot of things that they need to do to win and it’s doubtful they will be able to do everything in this game. At the least they need to get that passing game going to give them a chance to win this game.
When the Vikings have the Ball
Two words can describe the thing that could destroy the Bears defense this coming Sunday. Those two words are Adrian and Peterson. Peterson, who started his career with the Vikings destroying the Bears rushing defense. The past two years have seen the Bears be able to hold Peterson off and not allow him to gain a lot of yards but with the way that the Bears rushing defense is playing Peterson could have a big day.
The Bears have to concentrate on stopping Peterson and let McNabb, who is playing poorly as of late, try to beat them. The Bears need to creep their safeties up a little bit to help out against the run and make sure that their defensive tackles are ready to play the run. If they can stop Peterson at the line of scrimmage they will be much better off.
As mentioned, McNabb is not even a shadow of the quarterback that he once was and the Bears, providing they can tighten things up with their pass rush. Julius Peppers is not performing the way that he should be and the rest of the defensive line, despite a strong start at the beginning of the season, is struggling a lot.
So what can the Bears do to help keep McNabb in check. It all starts up front. They need to be able to get pressure on the quarterback and they should be able to do that against the Vikings. They may also try to blitz a linebacker or two at points during the game.
The safeties, which have been struggling for a variety of reasons, need to either play back far enough to help keep the Vikings from completing long passes against them or play closer to the line to help stop the run.
There is going to be a change at the safety position for the Bears this weekend. Gone to the bench are Brandon Meriweather and Chris Harris. Starting in their place will be Chris Conte and Major Wright. Coach Lovie Smith wanted to shake things up in the secondary and hopefully get better play out the new guys.
The Bears defense could end up being their downfall in this game. They have to get good play out of that unit in order to win but getting good play out of the defense has been a struggle as of late.
The Bears special teams has been doing very well this season in every aspect of the game. From kicking the ball to returns the Bears special teams is good. They may be needed to help win this game and if the Bears get a big play out of this group then they will have a much better chance at walking away with a win.
The Vikings have a solid kicking unit and if this game comes down to a field goal both teams are well prepared for a pressure situation.
Bears coach Lovie Smith is the experienced coach in this matchup as the Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is still in his first year and isn’t as experienced. Smith’s coaching staff has a lot of experience on it but we have seen what that experience has been able to do and quite frankly they haven’t been able anything well despite the fact they have all of this talent.
With the coaching staff’s struggles to keep this team together the Bears coaching staff sits at just about the same in this game at this point in the season.
The Bears have a lot to be concerned about and can’t afford to lose to the Vikings in a game that they should be able to win. The Bears are still a good team but have a lot of issues that they need to be concerned about and need to fix.
On offense, the Bears have to get the ball out to their receivers and the receivers are having a hard time catching the ball. It’s imperative that the offensive line have a good game and protect Cutler who has looked, at times, as if he is breaking down. They need to use the running game to help balance things out and take some of the heat off of the passing game and they should be able run on the Vikings.
Cutler needs to trust where his receivers are and extend that clock in his head just a little bit longer so he has time to throw and make some plays down the field. That will come when he gets good pass protection.
The Bears may want to try to get their tight ends more involved as hot receivers to help give Cutler another avenue to throw the ball. We have seen both Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth catch the ball fairly well so using them could be a big advantage to the Bears on offense.
On defense, the experiment of using Wright and Conte as the Bears starting safeties has to work. If they falter this team is going to be in trouble.
The pass rush has to get working again and this means that guys like Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Israel Idonije have to get the job done and unfortunately for the Bears, they haven’t been able to do that lately.
The linebacker position remains the strongest part of the defense and will continue to do well against the Vikings as long as they get help from the defensive line and the secondary.
We may see Devin Hester have some success on returns if he can get his hands on the ball. If he can’t then we know the Vikings don’t want a repeat of what happened in their second game against the Bears last season.
The Bears are the better team but will they be the better team on the field this Sunday night? The answer is yes. It’s not going to be a blowout but the Bears will just edge the Vikings in this game and even their record at .500.
Chicago 24, Minnesota 17