By Jeff Joniak-

(CBS) The Bears (3-6) host the Vikings (4-5) on Sunday at noon at Soldier Field. Here’s what’s on my mind heading into the matchup.

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First impression

Expect a serious pass rush from the Vikings on Sunday. First-year coach Mike Zimmer has designed a multi-look, aggressive, pressure-packed scheme tailored to fit the skill sets of defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, rookie linebacker Anthony Barr and free safety Harrison Smith. All four must be accounted for on every snap. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler must trust his protection, climb the pocket and fire some strikes to boost the confidence of a slumping team.

“I believe he trusts the guys around him,” Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said of Cutler. “He’s had a lot of offensive line changes this year. Hopefully he trusts those guys, because I trust them. I think they do a good job if he just steps up in the pocket as many times as he can. It’s pretty quiet in there.”

The Vikings were third in the NFL sacks entering Week 11.

Second thought

I thought Cutler was honest about where the offense is and what steps need to be taken to fix it right now. He needs to be the reason the offense regains its confidence.

“I’ve got to help with that,” Cutler said. “Just getting some energy out there, and if things aren’t going well on Sunday you know someone is going to have to say something. If we got to say something in the huddle and get some guys going … because we have some good guys in that huddle. We like our group. We feel like we should be able to move the ball better, so whatever we’ve got to do.”

No one in that locker room thought the offense would be in the position it is right now, ranking 22nd in the NFL in scoring, but improved field position via special teams and some three-and-outs by the defense would help. Game plans have been blown up because of the big holes they’ve created.

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Third degree

Receiver Marquess Wilson is one of the youngest Bears, but he’s talking like a veteran after watching more than playing over the last 25 games. He suffered a broken collarbone in early August and has missed the first nine games. He’s expected to play Sunday.

“I just had to grow up,” Wilson said. “ I know when to goof around and when to act serious.”

Wilson is taking his return to good health and an opportunity to be a difference-maker seriously.

“Everyone has an opportunity to be a leader,” Wilson said. “Whether they know it or not, the fact of how they play or practice or whatever they say, it can always affect somebody and somebody is going to follow suit and want to listen to you, want to do what you are doing on the field. Somebody sees you working hard, that’s only going to make them work 10 times harder because we’re all competitors out there. Anyone is capable of being a leader.”

Wilson says he feels “football ready” and wants to play Sunday. I’ll have more with Wilson in WBBM’s Sunday pregame show around 10:10 a.m.


Bears linebacker Jon Bostic will see Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the first time since the 2013 Sugar Bowl. Louisville won the game, but Bostic delivered one of the most vicious hits on a quarterback you will see in that game. Take a look on YouTube if you don’t recall. Bostic blasted Bridgewater in the chest with his right shoulder at full speed as the scrambling Bridgewater threw a pass. It knocked Bridgewater’s helmet clean off.

There’s a still-shot photo of the hit as well, which is worth taking a look at. It was Bridgewater’s first pass attempt of the game. He was shaken up and was sacked on the very next play. However, Bridgewater’s Cardinals upset Bostic’s Gators, 33-23, and he never missed a play.

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Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.