The Bears team the Vikings face Sunday night at Soldier Field won’t be the same one that got soundly beaten on Monday night in Detroit. In the wake of that dismal performance the Bears have elected to shake up their line-up, benching right tackle Frank Omiyale and safeties Brandon Meriweather and Chris Harris. There’s also a good chance they will be without noted Viking-tormentor Julius Peppers who sprained his MCL against the Lions.
Lovie Smith will replace Omiyale with Lance Louis, a seventh round pick who has started 4 games in his career. Chris Conte and Major Wright will step in at safety and try to do a better job tackling Adrian Peterson than Meriweather and Harris did tackling Jahvid Best.
The biggest change though could be the loss of Peppers. The monster defensive end has only two sacks this year but numbers have never quantified Peppers’ impact on the field. Teams routinely commit multiple men to blocking Peppers, freeing up other men to make plays. With Peppers out the struggling Bears pass rush will become even more anemic, great news for a Vikings offensive line that has been atrocious in pass protection for much of the season.
Whatever the Bears end up doing personnel-wise, look for them to make a concerted effort to better protect Jay Cutler who has begun complaining about the psychological effect of being pummeled on a weekly basis. This effort could/should include running plays that allow Cutler to get the ball out faster, throwing even more screens to Matt Forte and possibly hiring someone to bash Jared Allen in the knee with a hammer before the game.