Even though it's coming a bit later in the week than usual, we've exchanged five questions with the folks from our opponent's SB Nation site this week. That means a second sit-down with the folks from Windy City Gridiron, and Kev H and I have exchanged questions for this weekend's contest. Once they publish our answers to their questions, we will add them to the front page here. For now, here are the questions we had for them, and Kev's answers.
1) How much have the Bears changed since these two teams met in Week 8?
The Bears are .500 since the Vikings game. 8 of their last ten games have been decided by 4 or fewer points, including that Vikings game. In short, there's been a lot of heartbreakers in there.
The offense is finally getting healthy-ish, but the defense is still allowing way too many yards on the ground.Really, the Bears aren't too far off from where they were 6 weeks ago - they have enough talent to win any game, but they can also just as easily lose any game. The offense still probably needs roughly two pieces, and the defense about 5, to really have a shot at being consistently good. A lot of work for GM Ryan Pace coming up in the next few weeks.
2) Earlier this week, the Bears made the decision that Kevin White, their first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, would not suit up this season after dealing with injuries. How much of an effect do you think that's had on the Bears' season as a whole?
I think it's effect can be seen rippling through the offense. When you a pick a player at that position, you expect them to be in the plan from minute 1. Indeed, as a WR, I expect first round picks to be able to work themselves into the 2nd or 3rd spot on the chart.
The Bears have had problems with wide receiver depth throughout the season, with Jeffery, Royal, Wilson all missing time, and now Wilson and tight end Martellus Bennett are on IR. Having a guy like White on field would have reduced the number of times we saw guys like Josh Bellamy or Marc Mariani, and that wouldn't be a bad thing.
I would have liked to have seen him get some game reps this season, but if he couldn't get to game shape, might as well give him another 6 months to heal and be fresh for OTAs in the spring.
3) Along with White, the Bears have had numerous other injury issues at the wide receiver position, and even Alshon Jeffery (who has been a thorn in the Vikings' side every time they've played) is a bit banged up. How do you think this will effect the Bears' strategy on Sunday?
The Bears have shown a stubbornness to follow their gameplan despite the personnel. I expect the Bears to test the outside of the Vikings defense with stretch plays and quick outs. And if there aren't two wide receiver screens minimum, I'll be stunned.
Lucky for the Vikings, Jeffery has a nagging leg injury again and is questionable for tomorrow's game. If he's out, you may get to see Cam Meredith at the wide receiver position at some point. While I have allegiance to him since he played my alma mater, he's no Alshon Jeffery.
4) Jay Cutler has had a bit of a renaissance this season under the eye of new offensive coordinator Adam Gase. As a Bears fan, are you worried about another team potentially poaching Gase in the off-season and causing Cutler to have to sort of start over again?
I personally am of the opinion that Gase sticks around this season. I say this because he seems to like working with Fox, and the Bears are virtually guaranteed to have Cutler, who is playing Gas's system really well. I also say this because I'm not really sure he's ready for head coaching duties yet, despite the interest sniffed around last year. There's been several situations where playcalling became somewhat baffling in crucial stretches, and I think one more year of seasoning would go a long way for him.
If he does go, I do think it could hurt Cutler, but at least he wouldn't be labeled a coach-killer on that one. Might even help him to have the confidence that "hey, my play got a guy a promotion."
Plus I just really don't want to see Gase in Detroit.
5) How do you see this Sunday's contest playing out?
Much like every other Bears game this season, I think it'll be a pretty close one. In the end, if the Vikings get a solid rushing attack going, the Bears are going to have a long day. The inside linebackers aren't great at stepping up and attacking in the run game, so I'd keep the ball on the ground and between the tackles if I were Minnesota.
The Bears offensive line is, well, they're existing. I'm thinking the Vikings will be able to generate decent pressure and keep Cutler moving around. Since I have no idea who will be playing wide receiver, that could get bad. Ultimately, special teams will make or break this game, and those breaks usually go in the opponent's favor. I'm going to say something like 24-20, Vikings. I hope I am wrong.
Thanks to Kev for taking the time to answer our questions.