Bears Offense Versus Vikings Defense

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I’m looking forward to the upcoming Vikings and Bears game and it looks like the Bears are going to be in for some interesting match ups. I took an in depth look at how the Bear’s offense may perform against the Viking’s defense. In the graphic displayed I show the Bears using their 11 personnel package, one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers.

Since there isn’t a great deal of data on the 2013 Bears and Trestman’s personnel package preferences yet, I don’t know how many times he will use the 11 personnel package in the future. In 2012 the Bears used it on 41% of their plays. The Vikings, who haven’t changed a lot defensively, used the nickel defense 51% of the time in 2012. On the Viking’s web site’s unofficial depth chart they show Josh Robinson as the left corner back and Chris Cook as the right corner back. On the graphic I have Robinson as the slot corner back and Cook as the right corner back with Xavier Rhodes as the left corner back. The reason my positions differ from the web site is I used the positions they played at against Detroit last week. Although the 3 corner backs did swap positions on occasion. Most of the stats that I use are from Pro Football Focus , which is a site that I have a great deal of faith and confidence in.

Tight End Position: Last week I guessed that the Bears may use a lot of two tight end sets and I guessed right. My reasons were that the two rookies (Long and Mills) would need some blocking help against a very stout Bengal’s front 7. Plus Martellus Bennett could be used coming across the middle on some slant routes. The Bears used the two tight end set often in the early part of the game, as the game went on and Trestman saw that the rookies were holding their own he used the set less frequently. If Bennett hadn’t performed his Kellen Davis impression on the very first pass of his Bear’s career he would have had a better game statistically, although he didn’t have a bad receiving game. He wound up being targeted 5 times with 3 catches for 49 yards and 1 touch down. Bennett dropped one pass (the first) and he was the intended target on Cutler’s lone interception. He also had two penalties called on him. Four of Bennett’s targets were in the middle of the field ( 2 receptions, 19 Yards, 1 TD and 1 drop), he did have one target and one reception on the right side which went for 30 yards, 19 of those yards were after the catch. Bennett was in on all 64 offensive plays.

Bennett has a reputation of being a good blocker, but against the Bengals he didn’t run block very well, he graded out rather poorly (-4.4) on 29 running plays. He also was responsible for 1 quarterback hurry. The other two tight ends (Maneri and Adams, 28 total plays) were non factors offensively, but they did block well.

This week I think Martellus Bennett will be used sparingly in the offense, with maybe 4 or 5 targets. His value lies in helping Jermon Bushrod block the Vikings right defensive end Jared Allen. We will probably see Dante Rosario used in a few plays, until he fully understands Trestman’s playbook I expect his contributions to be limited.

Running Back Position: Last week Matt Forte had a mediocre week. He had 19 rushes for 50 yards and a touchdown, he was also targeted 6 times and had 4 receptions for 41 yards with 2 dropped passes. Forte didn’t have a very good game blocking either, he was charged with 3 missed tackles and was responsible for 1 quarterback hurry.

I think this week could be Forte’s week. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell combined to punish Minnesota's defense for 283 total yards and three touchdowns. One of the plays the Lion’s running backs were successful with, was the bubble screen. On one of Bush’s big plays Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was assigned to follow Bush. The Lion’s ran a screen with right guard Larry Warford pulling to put a block on Greenway, his block was a little sloppy, but good enough to give Bush an opening to take it 77 yards for a touchdown. We can expect Kyle Long to be used in a similar manner, pulling for Forte and Long is a much quicker guard than Warford.

The Bears have their own Bush, Michael Bush, Michael doesn’t have the speed or open field elusiveness of Reggie Bush or Joique Bell, but he can catch out of the backfield. I expect Michael to get a few pass plays, but I don’t expect him to get a lot of yards after the catch.

Wide Receiver Position: Last week the Minnesota Vikings held All Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson in check. Johnson was targeted 9 times and had 4 receptions for 37 yards. The Vikings accomplished this by playing a safety over the top of Johnson for most of the game, this freed up fellow wide receiver Nate Burleson, Burleson had 6 receptions out of 6 targets for 78 yards. I think it would be reasonable to expect the same double coverage for Brandon Marshall. Players like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson receive double coverage all the time, some weeks they win the battles, other weeks they don’t. Marshall has shown that he can make the tough catches, I expect Marshall to get his share of targets.

Minnesota’s secondary, with the exception of Harrison Smith, is probably their weakest unit. At the bottom of the page is a table of how the Vikings linebackers and defensive backs faired in coverage. Sanford’s grade appears to be low for only allowing 1 reception, but other factors enter into the grade, such as, the 2 incompletions were the result of the receiver dropping the pass rather than Sanford defending it well.

The good part about double coverage on Marshall is that it will leave single coverage for Alshon Jeffry and Earl Bennett. The double coverage on Johnson also allowed for some of the Lion’s success with the bubble screen. Historically the corner route is probably the top route used against the Tampa 2 defense, it puts pressure on both the corners and the deep half safety. I expect the Bears to run the corner routes frequently with Marshall and Jeffery. The 12 to 15 yard comeback route should also prove effective against the Vikings. I look for Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett to have a good game.

The Offensive Line Positions: Last week defensive tackle Kevin Williams was out with a knee injury, coach Leslie Frazier expects him to play this Sunday against the Bears. Both the Bears and Vikings should have all players available.

One of the most watched match ups should be Jermon Bushrod against Jared Allen. Bushrod last played against Allen in 2011, Bushrod gave up 2 quarterback hits, 4 quarterback hurries and no sacks. Bushrod will have his hands full with Allen and that is why I expect him to get some help from Martellus Bennett, I hope Bennett can do a better job of blocking than he did last week against the Bengals.

One of the unsung blue collar linemen for the Bears is left guard Matt Slauson, Slauson had a good game against Cincinnati last week. I expect him to handle his main assignment of blocking Vikings defensive tackle Leroy Guion. Slauson will also be helping Bushrod protect the B gap against Allen. Right Guard Kyle Long has another very difficult match up against, 6-time Pro Bowler and 5-time First-Team All-Pro, Kevin Williams. Jordan Mills also has a tough match up again. He will be going against left defensive end Brian Robison, who had a very good game against Detroit. Robison had 1 quarter back hit, 6 quarterback hurries, 3 tackles and 3 run stops. The two rookies will be tested again and I think they will be up to the task. I almost forgot about Roberto Garza, he will be doing his thing, helping out both of his guards and screwing up on occasion. Garza is the most experienced lineman that the Bears have and while he doesn’t do everything in a spectacular fashion, he will get the job done more times than not.

Last week I predicted the final score to be Bears 24, Bengals 20, of course we all know it was 24 to 21. Some think that I was thinking Cincinnati would get two field goals rather than a touch down, I was counting on a blocked extra point and the special teams let me down. This week I think it will be; Da Bears 27, Vikings 17.

One final note, all that I just stated is pure speculation, part of the fun of being an arm chair coach. The chances of me being 100% correct or 100% wrong are very small. I in no way consider myself to be an expert football analyst, just a fan that likes to be involved. At least I said what I think rather than take the approach that some in the national and local media take, which most of the time is something in the order of; they must score more points to win, or the clichés, they must move the chains, win the turnover battle, pressure the quarterback, make tackles, stop Peterson etc. Part of the reason I post is to gain knowledge and share opinions. Almost all disagreements and opposing opinions are welcome, that is how we learn and gain knowledge, seeing things from a different perspective.

























































<em>This FanPost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.</em>

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