The Minnesota Vikings carry their 1-3 record into Soldier Field tomorrow afternoon to face the 2-3 Bears. The Vikes are coming off a bye week that turned out to be busier than most game weeks, what with all the Mewelde Moore trade rumors. Then of course there was this week’s unpleasantness between Erasmus James and Chester Taylor, which saw Chester getting a shiner, Erasmus messing up his shoulder and Bryant McKinnie getting beaned by a wayward chair. Hopefully the game will be as exciting.
Speaking of excitement…it will be the Vikings’ great privilege tomorrow to face one of the most dynamic game-breaking players in all of football. I’m talking of course about Devin Hester, the Bears’ scintillating return man. Devin probably causes as many sleepless nights as any player in the league right now, and with good reason. His sick tackle-evading skills have turned many a game in the Bears’ favor in recent years, and no matter how much effort teams put into accounting for him, he always seems to make something happen. The Vikings’ kick coverage has actually been one of the more solid aspects of the team this year, reversing a recent trend – but it will need something a little extra tomorrow in Soldier Field if it expects to stop the elusive Mr. Hester.
In hopes of helping the Vikes stuff Mr. Excitement, I now offer:
10 Ways To Stop Devin Hester
1. The most obvious way…don’t kick the ball to him. Tell Ryan Longwell to just boot it out-of-bounds and let the Bears have it on the 40 each time. Granted, this strategy would be more appealing with Rex Grossman in at QB, given the high odds that he would soon make a stupid mistake and give you the ball back. With Griese in there, it becomes slightly less attractive.
2. Play all starters on special teams. The Vikes already run guys like Antoine Winfield out there on coverage – I say just keep the whole starting defense in there (maybe subbing in Heath Farwell for one of the linebackers because he’s such a fearsome special teams tackler). Your only fear of course is that Hester could put an especially sick move on some old guy like Darren Sharper and cause him to sprain his entire body.
3. Cheat. I ain’t talking about pulling some Belichick cloak-and-dagger crap – I’m talking about old-fashioned cheating. Like trying to sneak a 12th or perhaps even 13th man onto the field. Or, if by a miracle you get a chance to pile on Hester at some point, having one of your guys whip out a sharp object and do the Carl Spackler treatment on him (“He’ll quit the game.”).
4. If none of the above work, it may become necessary to resort to the unorthodox or downright extreme. You know what I mean too. Gillooly. All right, his name is Jeff Stone now – but he’s around. Somewhere. Maybe living with Bartman in a disgusting sewer someplace. I’m not saying any permanent damage has to be done – just make that knee swell up bad enough to keep him out for one game.
5. Try the old Lawrence Taylor trick. You know the one. Where you send hookers to the other players’ hotel to party with them, tiring them out so bad that they can barely walk the next day much less play. Granted, that only works if you’re at home and the other team is actually staying in a hotel. And for all I know Devin doesn’t even like hookers.
6. Step 1: Paint a crosswalk across the field and erect a “Slow: Children” sign. Step 2: Dress up like a slow child (preferably female, employing a curly Shirley Temple wig for that extra adorableness). Step 3: Jump on Hester when he slows down and steal the ball from him. Alternate method: Step 1: Make a snow-machine out of a refrigerator and strap it to your back…
7. Build a giant horse out of wood and hide your whole team in it. Roll it up to the stadium and knock on the door. Count on Hester and his teammates being sucker enough to actually accept the ostensible gift. Wait until the next morning, then climb out of the horse, whip out your swords and sack the whole dang place, killing everyone except the hottest women.
8. Replace your jocks with banana peels. That way, when your guys get faked out of their banana peels, there’s a chance Hester could slip on them.
9. Send Devin flowers with a nice scented note in which you ask him politely not to score a touchdown on you. And would he like to go on a picnic some afternoon and maybe see a picture-show afterward.
10. Um…tackle his ass?
Prediction: This one sets up well for the Vikes, actually. The Bears’ defense is banged-up, and doesn’t stop the run all that well even when it’s at full-strength. We know the Vikings can run it. We also know that the Bears are having trouble running it themselves after giving away Thomas Jones and handing the starting RB role to Cedric “Whoopsie” Benson. There’s always a chance Brian Griese could do some stuff against the Viking pass D, but I’ve got a weird feeling the Vikes and Leslie Frazier will have a little something pressure-wise for Griese. Maybe it’s just the optimist rising up in me, but I smell upset. Vikes win 21-17 (unless Devin goes nuts, in which case we’re sunk).