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Cold Takes: A Look At Chicago’s Crushing Of The Vikings Playoff Hopes

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Things look a bit different when you set emotions aside and go back and watch the tapes a couple of times...

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
Nick Kwiatkoski #44 of the Chicago Bears celebrates with Mitchell Trubisky #10 after catching the ball for a two point conversion in the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

We’ve all seen the “Hot Takes” from the last weekend’s games all over the net.

In this series, I’m letting some time pass, and after reviewing the game tape a couple of times, I’m going to share some “Cold Takes” about the Chicago Bears destroying the Minnesota Vikings and exposing them for what they are, a team with serious holes to fill. I’ll also sprinkle in a few thoughts about our division rivals. These are just a series of my thoughts and observations about the game as well as the Bears in general up until this point, presented in no particular order.

  • My game ball goes to Sherrick McManis, who has absolutely crushed it in replacing Bryce Callahan. McManis helped contain and frustrate Adam Thielen and Stephan Diggs, and took throwing lanes away from Kirk Cousins.
  • Honorary mention game balls go to every other Bear not named Patrick Scales and Cody Parkey. Parkey doinked another extra point, but this one wasn’t really on him... Scales missed the snap, put it high, and despite a good job by holder Pat O’Donnell getting the ball down, the timing was off and the ball doinked.
  • Scales has had very few bad snaps, but every one of them grates on the nerves of Bears fans who are used to perfection from a long snapper. Yes, I’m talking about you, Patrick Mannelly.
  • Let’s get the obvious debate out of the way. Matt Nagy decided to play his starters deep into the game, until it was clear Chicago would win as would the Rams.
  • When Chicago put in the second stringers, they still outplayed Minnesota’s first string. That’s yet another indication of how talented this Bears team is, Chicago’s backups are better than many teams starters. We saw it in the pre-season when Chicago’s backups demolished the Chiefs starters... blew them out of the stadium... and we saw it again in Minnesota.
  • Ryan Pace has made his share of mistakes over the years, but man, he’s nailed a whole lotta stuff as well.
  • I hear a lot of fans grumbling about the Bears offense and about how few deep shots Chicago has been taking. There’s a reason for that, and it isn’t because Mitchell Trubisky can’t make a long throw. Teams have started playing the Bears in several different zone looks, so what you are seeing is Matt Nagy reading the defenses and finding the holes in the zones. When it’s working, it leads to a passing game that resembles a “grind it out” running game. It also keeps Mitch upright.
  • Of course, there’s always Nick Kwiatkoski to turn to in a pinch if you need some offense around the goal line.
  • Speaking of keeping Mitch upright, Lester had a very short Sackwatch this week because the Vikings didn’t manage to sack Mitch without a penalty on the play. Coming into the game, the Vikings were leading the NFL in sacks. After the game? They were in third place, tied with us at 50.
  • BOOM!
  • Speaking of BOOM!...
  • The Texans and Deshaun Watson gave up 62 sacks. That is an INSANE number of sacks allowed for a playoff team. The next highest team was Dallas, another playoff team, with 56 allowed. Third up was Green Bay, who allowed 53. I’m pleased to say Chicago had a lot to do with Green Bay’s sack issues this year.
  • The Bears ended up giving up a total of 33, which tied us for eighth best.
  • Leonard Floyd has turned into a true monster.
  • Kevin White did a thing. A good thing. He also theoretically did a bad thing, but if that penalty wasn’t the worst job of reffing we’ve seen this year, I can’t think of one that beats it. White gets ZERO blame on that one.
  • Speaking of books, Vegas doesn’t seem impressed by Philadelphia.
  • I suspect that Anthony Miller’s shoulder is going to be more than just “strap it up” from here on out, I’m betting he’s going to be getting offseason surgery. I’ve read up on this type of injury, and it appears he’s going to need a fix. The good news is that he should be good to go by next year, and since it’s a shoulder it will not affect his explosiveness or his conditioning.
  • What a draft this last year, 2018, was. Roquan Smith is balling out huge... he still makes the rookie mistakes but he’s all over the place, a tackling machine, and is a Pro-Bowl Alternate his first year out of the gate.
  • James Daniels is absolutely killing it at left guard, his work at the second level on both run and pass plays is outstanding.
  • Anthony Miller has made some huge plays, he struggled with rookie-overload but he’s still had a fantastic rookie season.
  • Joel Iyiegbuniwe has been rock solid on special teams and was out there killing it against Minnesota when our second line defenders were dominating the Vikings number ones.
  • Javon Wims did four things this week, all of them good. Want your 2019 breakout player of the year? Wims. Book it.
  • Bilal Nichols is another of the “next big thing” Bears. I’m concerned about a guy that big having constant knee problems, and of course we don’t really know what’s going on there, but he’s playing through it just fine and making huge plays so hopefully it’s just an ‘offseason rest’ cleanup.
  • Kylie Fitts had a strong pre-season and while he’s not advanced as quick as some of his draft-mates, he’s still killing it for a sixth rounder. Fitts was out on the field and playing well against Minnesota in the fourth quarter, and was instrumental in getting a late 3-and-out and when he’s been active he’s done well on special teams.
  • UDFA Kevin Toliver II made the team in camp and during the season he’s shown the ability to cover some of the best wideouts in the league. Displaying a new level of maturity that he didn’t in college, Tolliver may end up the steal of the 2018 rookies.

As usual, I asked my fellow WCG contributors if they had any cold takes to share... you just know they did...

Jeff Berckes

  • The Lions are who I thought they were and sweeping them this season was the first step in the right direction for taking back this division. It was an ugly 5 years that Lions fans rightfully deserved to hold over our collective heads...but that noise is over. Back to the cellar with you.
  • The Packers were exposed for exactly who I thought they were and I can’t wait to see how the next coach handles the increasingly petulant insurance salesman at quarterback. I wish them many 6-10 seasons for as long as #12 remains under center.
  • The Vikings’ championship window is closed and sealed shut. I thought they’d be very good this year but they’re done and over with - at least they’ll always have the Minneapolis Miracle. They will lose talent in the off-season and the Kirk Cousins experiment will set them back and squander their excellent defense. Losing that week 17 game against the Bears at home was a death knell to their current iteration.
  • The Bears arrived a year early to dominate the NFC North in 2018, and they are set up to lead this division for the foreseeable future (and in the NFL, that’s 2-3 years). The Bears are who we thought they were. Crown ‘em.

Eric C. Duerrwaechter

  • The Bears finished 5-1 in the division and 12-4 overall for the 2018 regular season. That’s as impressive of a debut for Coach Nagy that we’ll ever see for a head coach in the NFL. For anyone hoping to find the next Matt Nagy in the coaching carousel for the 2019 league year, good luck.
  • Mitchell Trubisky didn’t fill the box score on Sunday, sure. He simply wasn’t asked to do much with Jordan Howard running all over the Vikes’ star studded defense. But seeing him make big boy plays against a big boy defense during critical moments was beyond exciting for me to watch in person. He’s playing quality football for a playoff team. Anybody who says otherwise clearly didn’t watch the Bears lately.
  • Not one team in the league is hotter than the Bears right now. A team who’s won 9 of their last 10 games, with their defense allowing less than a handful of TDs during that span, and their QB playing efficiently is exactly what teams don’t want to face in the playoffs.

Robert Schmitz

  • Considering this Bears team probably knew their chances of getting a #2 seed were minimal, the defense’s total shutdown of the Vikings was nothing short of masterful. Kirk Cousins couldn’t even muster up 100 yards until garbage time. In a win-or-go-home game. This may have been the defense’s biggest statement all season.
  • And then there’s Mitchell Trubisky. Don’t look now, but the young QB has quietly started playing some of his best football of the year at just the right time. 163 yards on 18 completions may not look like much, but Trubisky converted 7/11 third downs he faced while protecting the football against a defense that forced three turnovers in their last meeting. If he can keep this up this Bears offense should get more and more dangerous throughout the playoffs.

Superfans

  • Da BEARS!

OK, Chicago Bears fans, there you have it. What do you think? Spill the beans!