Reporting Jeff Joniak
Offense: Avoid destructive plays
Minnesota’s front seven remains impressive. You’ve got the Williams wall with Kevin and Pat and pass rushers Ray Edwards and Jared Allen. Against the Cardinals last week, Allen blew up with 2 ½ of the team’s six sacks. Behind them, they have a strong trio of linebackers led by EJ Henderson and Chad Greenway. They fill up a stat sheet every game. It’s another huge test for the Bears offensive line, in particular the tackles Frank Omiyale and rookie JaMarcus Webb. It’s always difficult to run on the Vikings, but the Bears still need to try.
Defense: Stop the run to earn the right to rush the passer
No matter how good Brett Favre is, topping the Bears game plan is containing Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson. An angry runner, who is deadly in the open field, Peterson needs to be tackled on first contact, before he gets his engine revved up. The worst thing that can happen is if the Bears are not gap sound and Peterson gets past the front seven, one-on-one with a safety. That is a nightmare scenario the Bears have experienced in the past with this guy. At least through eight games, Peterson has fixed his fumbling problem. He’s scored eight touchdowns, leads the NFC in rushing and has over 1000 total yards from scrimmage. As for Favre, the defense must be prepared for opportunities to make plays on the ball at all times.
Special Teams: Get after it
Danieal Manning did not return all the kickoffs last week against Buffalo, because of his defensive demands, so Johnny Knox is getting a chance. Percy Harvin fumbled the second half kickoff against the Cardinals resulting in a touchdown, but despite a bad ankle, Harvin is a weapon in the return game with three career touchdowns. Robbie Gould is looking for a bounce back game after missing a field goal and booting a kickoff out of bounds against Buffalo. He is money at Soldier Field. Minnesota’s Ryan Longwell is as solid as they come and top ten in the NFL in career field goal percentage. Punter Chris Kluwe is second in the NFL in net average and has allowed only 45 punt return yards fewest in the NFL.
Intangibles: Don’t beat yourselves
It’s one of the oldest, and widely used phrases by coaches and analysts in sports. Don’t beat yourselves. Mental errors, poor technique, and missed opportunities can ruin an otherwise perfect Sunday. Against the Vikings, who may have new life after their dramatic win over Arizona, the Bears have to play a sound game in all phases and force the mistakes, not create their own.