Hey guys - Bears fan checking in here. I browsed some of your posts about this game the general consensus seems to be that you're all really down and you really, REALLY need to win this game to avoid the Vikings going into a 0-2 divisional hole before the season really even gets started. While I don't blame you for feeling that way, truth is, we almost never like playing you guys - you're really hard to beat. Even when the end result is a beatdown (Favre's last game for example) I never went into the game thinking "yeah this is a piece of cake." Not as long as you have Peterson and that defensive line. You guys almost never beat us at home but we are just about as bad in Minneapolis.
That being said, while Peterson usually tears us apart whether it’s a win or a loss, we’ve done a good job neutralizing the Vikings’ pass rush, even when our OL was much worse than it is now, and Cutler’s had some big games against the Vikings. Trestman’s offense and how Cutler will fare in it is still essentially a question mark, but so far he hasn’t pulled out a lot of bells and whistles; it’s a "take what the defense gives you" kind of offense and given that your defensive scheme is similar to ours, I don’t see a lot of big plays being given up. The first half in Cincinnati he more or less wanted to prove the OL could keep Cutler on its feet, so he did, and opened up the playbook. This time I expect he will use Forte similar to how the Lions used Bush against you last week, except our passing offense is probably more balanced than theirs. I’m not sure what your plan is against Brandon Marshall who is a complete monster if you leave him single-covered and if Cutler sees it, especially in the red zone, he’ll throw to Marshall almost every time because Marshall enjoys that kind of physical play. However, he really likes Alshon Jeffery too and I expect to see them use him and Martellus Bennett against the deep seam/cover 2 soft spot until/unless the Vikings do something to stop it. Last year, the Bears were completely unable to do this type of balanced spread-the-ball-around passing so Tice either just called a Forte run up the middle or a pass play to Marshall where Cutler would trip over his crappy interior linemen and let a 90 mph rocket loose to Marshall in triple coverage, Marshall gets it anyway, and Cutler goes 16/29 for 218 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Wash, rinse, repeat. That would be punctuated by the occasional drop by Kellen Davis or Hester forgetting where he is. We have much better receivers now.
Defensively we are still solid but there’s a lot of unknowns. Figuring out what to do about Peterson is a terrifying thought, but it was when we had Urlacher, too. The defensive line looked rusty against Cincinnati, they can’t do that this week. Charles Tillman is still Charles Tillman, and Tim Jennings is Tim Jennings, although there was a bizarre role reversal where Tillman intercepted twice and Jennings forced two fumbles. Safeties are decent, the linebackers look solid too but the middle linebacker is not as heavily involved as you’re used to seeing. D.J. Williams is a solid, proven linebacker, but he is also rusty, and Jon Bostic is the raw rookie loaded with potential that everyone hopes to see. I have the feeling they will use 8 in the box and dare Ponder to throw but Tucker also has some blitz cards up his sleeve he hasn’t played yet. We’ll see.
Thanks for hosting my ruminations on this game. Looking forward to a clean, entertaining matchup tomorrow afternoon. Bear Down!