The Chicago Bears added Kahlil Mack to a already formidable defense in 2018, and the hybrid linebacker has taken that team to another level this year. Is there any way the Minnesota Vikings can affect Mack’s dominance on this coming Sunday?
Of all the team’s that could have been augmented by the defensive player in the game, of course it had to be the Chicago Bears.
Former Bears head coach John Fox and current defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had already built a good defense in Chicago, and Fangio was kept in charge of the unit as new head coach Matt Nagy, an offensive specialist from Kansas City, came aboard to run things.
Putting Mack on the Bears’ front seven, which includes standout players like Pro Bowl defensive Akiem Hicks, linebacker Danny Trevathan and outstanding rookie linebacker Roquan Smith, was almost criminal.
It took them from very good to superlative, and, at times, dominating. Mack’s presence on the edge of the Chicago defensive line opens up Fangio’s playbook and makes the Bears’ attack a dangerous riddle to solve on every down.
So how do the Minnesota Vikings face the problem that Mack and his impressive squad present?
The first thing Minnesota has to do is face it. Don’t run away from Mack in this game. If they want to be a team that can generate yards with a power running game, they should show the Bears that they are not intimidated by one player.
Use blocking combinations to game the game right at Mack. It may not show dividends right away, but with a home crowd behind you and the Vikings’ defense playing as it has in the last few weeks, it will begin to have an effect on both Mack and the Chicago defense.
Mack has suffered some injuries this season and has missed time. He, like everyone else, is not 100 percent in Week 17. He is not invincible, he gets tired.
Point the truck at him and hit the gas. This will most likely be a game that is decided in the second half, and the Vikings need to prove they can put some tread on a strong defense.
If Mack is the player who is “chasing” the ball, Minnesota will be playing right into Chicago’s hands.
A Sense Of Urgency
The Vikings’ play-action needs to be precise and direct. Kirk Cousins must have a stop-watch (not a clock!) in his head and get the ball out quickly. Replace blitzers and stick those reads, they won’t be open long.
If everyone’s covered–get rid of the ball! Sacks will give the Bears some of the momentum they used to win the previous game against the Vikings.
It’s a tricky proposition for Minnesota on Sunday. Beat your division rival at home so that you can play them in their place the following week.
All the pressure is on the Vikings as the Bears have wrapped up the NFC North and will only be glancing up at the scoreboard to see the Rams/49ers score.
Chicago doesn’t have to show too much imagination here. And Matt Nagy won’t. He wants to keep a few secrets in his book to throw at the Vikings next week if it comes to that.
That means he’ll let Mack fly, “gadget” his ball movement and punch out quick pass plays, waiting for a lapse in the Vikings’ secondary.
His game counterpart, Minnesota interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, needs to be less creative. Instead, he should challenge his offensive line and his running backs to put there money where their mouth is.
These guys say they want to “pound the beef”? Then pound it. With any success, it will make good things happen.
If this team gets to next week, there will be time to show some more imagination before traveling to Chicago for a rematch.