We have once again reached the point in the week where we exchange some questions with our friends from the site that covers the Minnesota Vikings’ opponents for the coming week. On Sunday, the Vikings will host the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium, which means we’re talking with the folks from Windy City Gridiron.
This week, I exchanged these questions with Patti Curl from WCG. Once she posts my answers to the questions that she sent over, I’ll put them on our front page. Here are the answers that she gave for the questions I posed to her.
1) The struggles of second-year quarterback Justin Fields have been well-documented. What do you think is the biggest reason for his development appearing to have stalled?
Fields doesn’t trust his protection or his receivers. Which is totes fair. This offensive line is a work in progress, and while it has some good moments in pass protection, the bad moments come too often for Fields to be prepared for the good protection when it comes. Couple that with receivers who don’t reliably get open quickly or win contested catches, it’s a far cry from the situation Fields had at Ohio State and it’s hard to develop in these circumstances. Bears fans are starting to get frustrated with his poor production, and the Texans game was a career low, but I’m hopeful he’ll be able to drudge through this season with some excruciating improvement and plenty of potential left at its end.
2) While the passing game has struggled for the Bears so far, the run game appears to be clicking along alright behind Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery. What has made the Chicago run game so good thus far?
Most Bears fans are down on Luke Getsy right now, but he’s definitely been an upgrade in the run game. Aside from a few semi-infuriating inside zone runs against stacked boxes, Getsy has added variety and creativity to the run game. The offensive line is also a group that’s more proficient in run blocking and more agile than what the Bears have put out in previous years. I personally prefer my linemen large and slow. I think 4 time fat bear week champion Otis is the ultimate prototype offensive lineman. But Ryan Poles definitely has a different perspective on things and I’m willing to see it out.
Montgomery and Khalil Herbert have different styles, and it’s encouraging that they have both found success with Getsy. You’re likely to see Herbert Sunday, who has more burst and is more decisive in his cut-backs. He’s more likely to elude tackles than break them, but that works too. If the lineman can win their blocks as well as they did against the Texans, it’ll be a good day on the ground for Chicago. If they lose their blocks like they did against the Giants, I’ll have to cross my fingers for a significant passing game.
3) The Bears have also been very solid on defense through the first four games, allowing an average of just sixteen points/game. What do the Vikings need to do to successfully attack Chicago’s defense?
What Daniel Jones did last week is he pretended to hand the ball off, but he didn’t hand the ball off. Obviously this was exceedingly confusing for the Bears defense, and he managed to walk into the end zone twice after doing so. I don’t know if Kirk Cousins is crafty enough to do something like that, but I would do it every play until the Bears find a successful response. Because they really didn’t last week. Alternatively, you can target rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon, who has been struggling to learn the slot corner role while adjusting to the NFL. With Jaylon Johnson still injured, our outside corners will also be outmatched by the likes of Justin Jefferson.
4) Our friends at the DraftKings Sportsbook have set the over/under for this one at 44 points. Which way are you leaning on that and why?
I’d lean over because I always enter a game with optimism and I really just want to see the Bears offense move the ball. I think the Bears O line will make more holes against the Vikings D line this week and I’m optimistic the run game will afford Fields the opportunity to connect on a couple big plays. Justin Jefferson will be the best receiver the Bears have faced all season and he could have a game that looks a lot like his first week.
5) Give us one “under the radar” player on each side of the ball that you think could have a big impact on this game for Chicago.
Offense: Velus Jones Jr. didn’t do much in his debut last week except muff a punt to end the game. But if the 3rd round rookie does get incorporated into the offense, he has the speed and RAC ability to break off a big play. Best case scenario, he gives the Bears a reliable short pass target to work as an extension of the run game with home run potential on every touch.
Defense: 5th round rookie edge rusher Dominique Robinson had an impressive first game, with 1 and half sacks and tackle for less playing less than half of the defensive snaps. He’s had some flashes since in limited play that haven’t shown up on the sack sheet. I think he’d look real good smothering Kirk Cousins in a sack or two come Sunday. I can picture it happening right now. The look on Kirkie’s face is delightful.
Thanks again to Patti for taking the time to sit down and answer our questions for this week.