As usual, Matt Forte delivered in carrying the load (87 yards). Perhaps it's time to pay him? Forte averaged 6.2 yards per carry in the first half, which allowed the Bears to build a sizeable lead, while Marion Barber did his job in short-yardage situations. Chicago's success on the ground kept the Vikings on their heels, opening up options in the passing game.
Rock-solid protection and tweaks to the playbook to help Jay Cutler get rid of the ball quickly played a vital role in Chicago marching to a 26-3 lead. Kudos to line coach Mike Tice who made shrewd personnel decisions in shuffling the protection. Coordinator Mike Martz also deserves credit for displaying flexibility with his system. The line gave up a sack that resulted in a fumble, which led to a Peterson TD. Because of that, the grade drops one letter.
Despite playing with a hobbled Julius Peppers and without DT Matt Toeaina, the Bears stonewalled Minnesota's dynamic rushing attack led by Peterson. The Vikings averaged just 1.8 yards per carry in the first half as they fell behind 26-3. Peterson finished with just 39 yards. By taking away the run, the Bears made the Vikings one dimensional, therefore predictable. That allowed the club to experience success in defending the pass.
Vikings QB Donovan McNabb completed nearly 80 percent of his passes early in the game. But the Bears didn't allow Minnesota to gain large chunks of yardage, and it's widely known that forcing short completions is one of the fundamental tenets of Lovie Smith's Tampa-2 scheme. There were concerns initially about inexperienced players at safety, but the Bears gave the youngsters plenty of help with a fairly active pass rush that kept McNabb on the move.
Devin Hester busted a 98-yard kickoff return TD in the third quarter for his 16th return TD (including punts), and nearly scored again the next time he touched the ball on a punt return. Kicker Robbie Gould blasted a 51-yarder in the second quarter (three FGs on the day). The Bears kick coverage unit allowed the Vikings to start just one possession outside the 20 in the first half. Adam Podlesh pinned the Vikings inside the 20 on two of his three punts.
Preventing a team from repeating mistakes is a hallmark of solid coaching. The Bears fixed problems along the offensive line with personnel moves and changes to the playbook, which allowed QB Jay Cutler to get rid of the ball quicker. Cutler called the improvements a collective effort among several coaches. Despite playing a pair of inexperienced safeties, the defense shored up its deficiencies in stopping the run and held its own against the pass.
EXPERTS' PREDICTIONS FOR WEEK 6
- DeFalco (3-2)
- J.D. (4-1)
- Jon (3-2)
- Isaacson (3-2)
- Jurkovic (2-3)
- Silvy (4-1)
- Spain (4-1)
- Harry (4-1)
- Waddle (3-2)
- Wilbon (4-1)
- Woj (4-1)
- Wright (3-2)