Bears Vs. Vikings: Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down

Jonathan Daniel

We return to our regularly scheduled format, as we look through our notes from yesterday's win.

  • The first thing that jumps out to me is Jared Allen's stat line. Keep in mind last year, he closed the season with three and a half sacks on Josh McCown and the Bears' offensive line. This year, four tackles and zero sacks. I'm not going to say J'Marcus Webb was awesome or anything like that, but on a day where a lot of the "overloads" and extra help was on the right side, Webb looked pretty good going up against Allen. And with the one sack allowed total by the Bears (which came about early when Cutler tripped on Roberto Garza's ankle), also keep in mind that halfway through the game, they were playing with Edwin Williams taking his first snaps at left guard, Gabe Carimi playing the eligible tackle until he shifted in to play right guard, and Jonathan Scott picking up time at right tackle. James Brown is all but assured to dress at guard next week against Seattle if Chris Spencer and Lance Louis can't go, but for an "All Hands On Deck" type of game like this turned out to be, they turned in a pretty admirable, if not great, performance.
  • That being said, Jay Cutler was on the move so much I thought he was on a conveyor belt. Maybe it was just me, maybe I missed something in between the Texans game and yesterday, but I thought Cutler was on the move a lot more than the prior nine games he played in. In the first quarter, his mobility kept Earl Bennett's third-down reception alive for a first down. Next play, Kellen Davis to the 1 yard line was kept alive by movement. Brandon Marshall's DPI in the end zone was brought about because Cutler kept the play alive long enough behind outstanding max-protection to get to the right side and make it a straight shot.
  • And honestly, I think the two tie in quite nicely. Cutler's mobility can get him out of scrapes, but several of his lateral movements weren't brought about by overwhelming pressure - the offensive line actually gave him some room to make those lateral movements. Even Kellen Davis got in on the blocking act - on Matt Spaeth's touchdown reception, Davis was against Allen; Davis escorted Allen past Cutler, who stepped to the left where Allen just vacated and made the perfect throw.
  • The gameplan was clearly to establish the run and work the short passes - Brandon Marshall was being fed short stop after short stop after short stop, hoping to break something open up top. In the fourth quarter, he made one of those catches in traffic that's just "How did that get in there what a catch." Then of course the one play they open up to take advantage, Marshall drops the touchdown in the end zone.
  • I was pretty stunned at the gameplan the Vikings showed, though. You'd think without their top passing weapon they'd go to Adrian Peterson over and over and over again until his shoes split, then run him again some more. While part of that might have been due to his first fumble (doubt it though), the plan seemed to be to stick with their own short passing game instead of trying to make the big plays San Francisco seemed to play at will. The entire first quarter seemed like everything for the Vikings was designed to catch shy of the first down marker, and it didn't exactly open anything for the Vikings downfield.
  • Speaking of fumbles, Adrian Peterson's first resulted in him having to wear gloves the rest of the game. Forte's fumble gave Michael Bush more carries earlier than normal. And Bush didn't play badly at all - certainly not the big play threat that Forte is, but enough of a consistent threat that he'll wear on a defense.
  • Kyle Rudolph made himself incredibly hard to stop yesterday. I think all but one of his receptions were made either in the flat out on the right side or the drag across the middle of the field, two routes where (especially in that flat) it's really tough to make a play. On the high lob into the end zone, both safeties (Conte and Wright) had to team up on him. Conte went over the top and Wright jumped into Rudolph's arms to break up the pass, which would have been a sure touchdown otherwise.
  • The Bears put Kelvin Hayden in at Tillman's cornerback spot, put in DJ Moore at the nickel, and didn't miss a beat. Later on, even Zackary Bowman got in and made a big deflection against Devin Aromashodu. Yes, that Zackary Bowman. No, it's not December 21st yet.
  • Nate Collins was one of the first guys up in playing the run, and was really effective early - Conte's interception later in the game was driven by a Collins pressure. Melton contributed a sack on the first drive with a great swim move slipping through the gap. Later in the game, Stephen Paea was instrumental at the start of the fourth quarter bringing the Vikings' offense to a halt. Israel Idonije rotated in and picked up a sack and very nearly a second - he moved to the interior and drove Ponder outside, forcing him to "shove" the ball away. Shea McClellin got a gratuitous hit in on Ponder, as a stunt-type block freed him up from Matt Kalil and let him into the backfield free. And then there's Julius Peppers, who blocked one of Blair Walsh's field goal attempts. Every member of the defensive line rotation made some sort of contribution - it shows just how deep that rotation is against a line that's actually playing pretty well.
  • Real quick, 670's Laurence Holmes tweeted this about McClellin's progress. Honestly, I feel better about the kid as I see him. And I hope we're done with the "Urlacher's Heir" stuff. Please and thank you.
  • It took until 12:29 in the fourth quarter for the Bears to get their first false start penalty of the game, on (of course) J'Marcus Webb.
  • The fourth quarter saw the Vikings' running game finally start moving, especially going four rushes for 38 yards earlier in the drive to start the fourth quarter. So why on third and two and fourth and two in the red zone do we see no rushing attempts from them with the hottest running back in the league? Does this mean we shouldn't expect anything for Christmas, Minnesota? Cause, I mean, we really appreciate the gift. And you thought Mike Tice called sketchy games?
  • I think another player just left the game with a concussion.
  • So apparently all it takes to get Evan Rodriguez, Earl Bennett and Matt Spaeth involved are the other weapons either coming down with an injury or a case of "Bad." For as much as I defend Devin Hester's ability to play wideout, he gets the ball forced to him too much. Cutler seemed a little more free to hit whatever target he wanted.
  • But seriously though, where do the Bears go with the Hester injury - do they activate Dane Sanzenbacher and return Eric Weems to kick returner while Hester's concussed, or does Joe Anderson get the call from the practice squad? I might go the Anderson route - a bigger, bit faster receiver that you might want to see in game situations - but with the team in contention, it might not be time to putz around with experimentation like that, and probably not for a game or two.
  • Oh, haven't gotten to the Podlesh two-point conversion fake PAT. They kept saying on the broadcast it was a sight read - I'm inclined to believe them - it was man-up 3-on-3 blocking the whole way and Podlesh just had to find the open area. It was big when the Vikings were about to cut it to two scores with a field goal - one of the touchdowns would require a converted two-point attempt, instead of just two PATs. Thankfully, it didn't become a thing.
  • Too bad Cutler didn't give Earl Bennett a better throw on first and ten at the MIN 37 in the second quarter - Bennett had so much open space in front of him, it would have at least been 15 yards instead on the four he fell down for.
  • I approve of the fourth-down going-for-it. Up by seven, in that grey area and with the defense strong early, might as well take the chance to keep possession with the short-yardage back. Carimi as the eligible tackle was key in opening the hole for Bush to hit hard.
  • With the Bears being limited in receivers, do you think they considered lining up Forte out wide and playing Bush in the backfield, given Forte's receiving skills? Would have been an interesting look that might have given Minnesota something to think about.
  • As good as Marshall is, he took a gain of four and turned it into a loss of seven. It's called a touch of Hesteritis.
  • Speaking of, early in the game, pre-concussion, Hester was lined up as the up-back in punt return formation with Weems back, and later lined up deep with Weems in the double-returner package that resulted in the Knox "touchdown" last season against the Packers. Either trying to entice a spark out him or replace him.
  • The Vikings had no first downs through the first quarter and only 15 all game.
  • The Bears still kill themselves with big penalties. Cutler scrambles for a gain of 5, then gets hit with a personal foul for flipping the ball at the Viking defender. That's one that can't be blamed on the offensive line.
  • The Bears led in time of possession by fifteen minutes. Fifteen. Minutes. 37:30-22:30
  • Watching Michael Bush bull-rush a defensive back defender at the goal line is a thing, especially when it's in between Webb and Spaeth.
  • Speaking of Spaeth, for a blocking tight end, man did he work hard to land that touchdown in-bounds.
  • The safeties weren't really tested too much this game, particularly Wright; Conte got run over a couple times by Peterson. Not a good look for him.
  • Devin Aromashodu continues to be who we thought he was - 3 targets, no receptions.
  • The Bears were 11-19 on third down and 1-1 on fourth. The Vikings were 6-16 on third down and 1-3 on fourth.

Long story short, the Bears played like they were offended that they got out-physicaled and out-played by the Niners, and took it out on the Vikings. The execution was all-around better after the first typical pants-crapping drive the Bears usually have, and things moved better until the fourth quarter when the Bears were just out of parts. Good game, now file it away and be ready for Seattle.

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