Joniak’s Keys To The Game: Bears Vs. Vikings
By Jeff Joniak-
Offense: Moving The Chains
Sixteen teams recorded at least 20 first downs in Week 1, led by Detroit’s 28 against the Vikings. Those teams went 9-and-7, but 14 of the teams scored at least 24 points and as much 49.
It’s all about first downs and touchdowns. An ideal way to keep high end talent off the field is chain moving, clock killing possessions. Once the Bears starting converting third downs against the Bengals, the game changed.Quarterback Jay Cutler made big plays with his arm and feet in that second half.
Adrian Peterson is the premier skill position player in the NFL. Keeping him off the field as much as possible is pivotal. If the Bears sustain drives, there is a good chance they are going to score points. They converted all three red-zone opportunities in Week 1. With Marc Trestman calling the plays and so many different types of big red zone targets to choose from, it’s safe to say red zone scoring efficiency should skyrocket for the Bears in 2013.
Defense: Disciplined Gap Control
It’s almost always the same defensive key against the Vikings twice a season. Adrian Peterson is the reason. He’s one blown gap assignment, one missed tackle, and one sharp cut in space away from the end zone on every handoff.
He hung 224 on the Bears in 2007; 154 in 2012. Only Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Peterson have career averages over 5.0 yards-per carry with more than 1000 rushing attempts. He’s the number one issue for the Bears Sunday. After Peterson’s 78-yard first snap run, the Lions stacked the box and held him to 15 yards on his next 17 carries. They challenged Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder to beat them, and he couldn’t, throwing three interceptions. It’s the book on the Vikings until Ponder proves otherwise.
SPECIAL TEAMS: GOOD AS GOULD
Special Teams: Good As Gould
Bears-Vikings is the battle of the big legs. Robbie Gould set personal, franchise, and Soldier Field records with his important 58-yard field goal to close the first half. With the wind at his back the kick sailed a good 61 yards through the south end zone uprights.
Ultimately his three points provided the margin of victory. That kick also tied the NFL record for consecutive field goals made beyond fifty-yards, tying Tony Zendejas at 11 straight. However, one of the strongest legs in football belongs to Blair Walsh of the Vikings. He matched Gould and Zendjeas with his 11th straight Sunday against the Lions, after hitting all 10 of his long distance kicks as a rookie in 2012.
In fact, Walsh hit three 50+ field goals in one game against the Rams. Gould and Walsh each had five touchbacks last week, and they had the two longest field goals in the NFL at 58 and 52 yards respectively.
Intangibles: Building Something
Not a day goes by, when Marc Trestman or a member of his coaching staff doesn’t complement the “hard work” and diligence of the players. The staff inherited leaders who traditionally have invested the time and effort to get themselves physically and mentally ready to play each week.
These veterans are found on both sides of the ball and set good examples for the nineteen new Bears on the 53-man roster to follow. Getting the first win out of the way, is another paver on the road to building the team Trestman envisions. He often speaks of accountability and what Lance Briggs referred to as the “trickle down”.
To understand the “trickle down,” you have to understand Trestman’s demands which simply revolve around team first and helping the guy next to you get the job done. Briggs awarding the game ball on behalf of the team after the win in the locker room Sunday was another sign of the building trust in Trestman.