Well the day is soon upon us. The day most members of the media have been clamoring for since Mike Glennon threw a pick-6 on his first pre-season play. It’s Trubisky time!!
Yay. Excuse me if I’m not thrilled. He’s a rookie quarterback, lacking a pedigree of real college success. With 13 games played and 8-4 as a starter, he got crushed in his only bowl game by Stanford and the defensive end the 49ers selected with the Bears pick. Not to mention the Bears gave up an additional 2nd round pick and two third round picks, one next year, for him. For a team that has now been thinned out by injuries for the second or maybe third straight year, that is too much to give away to move up one spot in a weak year for quarterbacks. But for now, I will step away from criticizing, the generally managed Bears front office, to take another look into my Crystal Ball. Cue the dramatic music.
At least this next game is at home… that’s pretty much all the optimism I have for this week. NFL teams, even good ones, have dismal road records. That gives the Bears, at home against the Vikings (2-2) a fighting chance. The Bears ground game did run for over 200 yards over the Vikings in the second meeting a year ago. That allowed them to split their two divisional games, as the Vikings went into a tailspin late last year which kept them out of the playoffs.
One of the reasons for the Vikings tailspin was the health of their quarterback, Sam Bradford. His chronic knee issues have been a thorn for them since he was brought in for the injured Teddy Bridgewater. It has plagued them this year as well. An impressive win in their opener has been overshadowed by Bradford’s absence since then, and the up and down play of Bradford’s backup, Case Keenum, resulting in two losses in the last three. But head coach Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in football and will see this matchup against a rookie quarterback as a big opportunity to avenge last season’s somewhat embarrassing loss and get the Vikings over .500 without Bradford, who is coming back soon. The Vikings would then be well positioned for a playoff run.
The Vikings defense may be soft up the middle, as the Bears Jordan Howard gashed them repeatedly last season, exposing a major weakness. But on Monday night, I imagine the Vikings will play their safeties up to support their run defense and make their fast outside linebackers play to the sidelines to guard against any Trubisky rollout plays. The Vikings will play more of a zone defense to bottle up any passing game the Bears might have. They do not fear the Bears receivers at all, and they shouldn’t. The Bears are among the worst in the league in dropped passes, a huge problem that didn’t help Glennon, even though he was among leading quarterbacks in completion percentage.
The Bears only chance on offense will to be get blockers on the extra safety which might allow for a deep, down the field run or touchdown by Howard or speedy Tarik Cohen, who was underused in the last game (injured?). The result will be deeper safety play, that will then open up passing lanes for Trubisky, who will need to get rid of the ball quick.
Vikings head coach Zimmer knows that you have to bring pressure and will pick moments to blitz Trubisky, something that Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio agonizingly refuses to do. The Bears lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the first three games was clearly evident, Fangio didn’t appear to blitz Aaron Rodgers once in their most recent embarrassing road loss. In spite of the fact, that three of the Packers offensive linemen, were backups playing out of position.
The Bears game plan on both sides of the ball against the Packers was astonishingly void of any creativity. Granted the Glennon turnovers led to a deep early deficit, but isn’t that all the more reason to throw caution to the wind and open up the play-calling? How many times have the Bears even attempted to throw over the top on a go route this year? Maybe twice. I will pound offensive coordinator Dowel Loggains at a later date for his lack of game planning and other shortcomings.
This is an entirely winnable game, especially if Bradford doesn’t play. The Bears will be full of energy at home with the kid in at quarterback. The turnover battle is always the best indicator of victory. As much as it pains me to write this, the Vikings should romp 27-17. Trubisky may rally the team for some late points to make the score closer, but Zimmer is angry and his young defense will be looking to make a statement. A clear example of a coach who has his teams attention.
I am afraid John Fox does not have his team’s attention. I look at the embarrassing road losses as evidence of the team’s either lack of preparedness from the coordinators, or turning a deaf ear to the head coach. This is most evident in the play of the receivers and tight ends, who don’t seem to give a shit. Let me be more exact; tight end Zach Miller, and all of the receivers except for Kendall Wright, who looks like the only guy running hard out there. I would cut Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson and Marcus Wheaton yesterday. You can get three guys off the street who will try harder and have as many drops and play special teams and who aren’t any less special than those three clowns.
Crystal Balling: Bears offense
Howard, kept in check, 12 rushes 45 yards
Cohen, couple nice runs, 8 rushes 86 yards, 1 TD
Trubisky 18 -30, 240 yards, 1 TD, scrambles for 5 carries 37 yards
Bears defense: 1 sack, 0 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery
Vikings wide receivers:
Diggs, 7 catches, 146 yards, 2 TD’s
Theilen, 5 catches, 104 yards
Tight end Kyle Rudolph, 4 catches 56 yards, 1 TD