As Kanye West once said, let’s play the blame game…
In no particular order:
Defensive line. Where was that dominating pass rush? The Vikings were supposed to destroy the Bears’ reshuffled line. Instead the front four played like it was suffering a terrible case of turkey hangover. The Vikes managed one official sack – ONE – and that came when Jay Cutler tripped over his own lineman’s foot. Alan Williams could’ve helped out the front four by blitzing but was reluctant to do it. Maybe because he was worried that Jay Cutler would only tear up the secondary even more. Too much Cutler dancing out of the way of what pass rush there was. Too much Brandon Marshall making catches even when covered.
Wide receivers. No Percy Harvin meant a punchless passing game. And even when receivers managed to get open enough for Christian Ponder to get the ball to them…drops. Drops all over. Jerome Simpson was the worst culprit. Tell me again why he’s on the team? Stephen Burton is another useless guy. Only Kyle Rudolph and Jarius Wright made anything happen. Otherwise…blech.
Christian Ponder. The terrible receiver play makes it easier to excuse Ponder. But Ponder himself was not exactly brilliant. He sailed all his deep throws. He bailed on the pocket early. He didn’t step up. He basically reverted to the way he was before the Lions game. It’s one step up and two steps back for Ponder. But, like I said, the bad hands display by his receivers gives him an out. If you want to go down that road.
Coaching/playcalling. Well there it is again, the eternal bugaboo. It seemed like Bill Musgrave had a nice approach against the Lions, but with two weeks to prepare for the Bears, he couldn’t come up with much. Lack of execution hurt of course but there were questionable decisions mixed in there too. Not enough Adrian Peterson early. Not using Adrian Peterson on certain short yardage situations. Yeah we know, he’s trying to break tendencies. Peterson ended up with a nice game except for fumbles. Which brings us to…
Turnovers. Peterson’s early fumble was killer. Ponder’s interception where he overthrew Devin Aromashodu was a killer. It’s what the Bears do, I know. But you can’t let it happen.
Bad start. Echoes of the Tampa Bay game here. A really listless, mistake-riddled start. Turnovers. Three-and-outs. A bad punt. This all conspired to help the Bears get up. And when the Vikings fall behind, they’re dead.
This was a total team loss if ever I saw one. The D-line failure and lack of early running game were the biggest factors though. Those were supposed to be the areas where the Vikings had a clear advantage over the Bears. But they didn’t take advantage of those on-paper match-ups. They didn’t start strong. They let Jay Cutler operate. They flopped in a big game. Again.
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