Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears: Mini-Breakdown

Though I have a full player review and rant on the coaching staff available at Vikings Journal, the greatest takeaway for me was not whether or not the offensive line did well (they didn’t) or whether there were hidden gems in Teddy Bridgewater’s performance (there sort of was, but it’s irrelevant amidst the bad play) or even if Josh Robinson played poorly (that’s complicated). The Vikings knew what they were up against and didn’t adjust throughout the game.

Though I have massive issues with the offensive playcalling, I saw the defense as more critical to the loss, because it wasn’t the points per game that was the issue, it was the points per drive. And the defensive playcalling and adjustment was the issue.

The biggest issue on the defense wasn’t the individual performance of the players, which when summed was excellent overall, but the use of the players. After learning that Josh Robinson was the alpha and omega of the Bears’ gameplan, the Vikings did exactly nothing. They didn’t bracket over Robinson, they didn’t give him help, they didn’t transition his coverage assignments and they didn’t switch up their approach.

Though the Vikings love to blitz and send additional pass rushers, often necessitating man coverage, the Bears have struggled against zone defenses in general, pitting a defender’s instincts and ability to read the quarterback against Jay Cutler’s decisionmaking. More importantly, they diminished the impact that specific matchups would have and minimize the problems of a smaller defender.

The Vikings have watched enough Bears film to know this to be the case, but entered the game without another plan just in case the height issues would bite them in the first half. After seeing Robinson get toasted time and again, they didn’t give him help. And in critical moments of the game, they changed very little. Sometimes, the Cover-2 defense is the exact appropriate response, despite what Vikings fans are haunted by in previous years.

For those who take stock in Pro Football Focus grades, the Vikings defense only had two players below -1.0 and five above +1.0. The aggregate grade was 11.6. It was a net positive day for the sum of the individual players, but a defense is only as strong as its weakest link, and the Vikings stubbornly didn’t account for that link.

The best players, according to Pro Football Focus were Everson Griffen (+5.4), Sharrif Floyd (+4.3), Captain Munnerlyn (+2.7), Joe Berger (+2.1) and Harrison Smith (+2.0). The worst players were Josh Robinson (-3.3), Corey Wootton (-2.2), Matt Asiata (-2.1), Matt Kalil (-2.1) and Kyle Rudolph (-2.1).

I take exception to Berger’s high grade, because I felt he was playing outside of his assignment on a number of plays and played with confusion in open space. He allowed two quarterback hurries extremely quickly and though helped create lanes in the running game, allowed just as many to collapse.

Phil Loadholt’s low grade is also a bit harsh in my eyes. Though he was responsible for the late Willie Young sack (and it looked bad), I thought his day was largely positive. Their grade for John Sullivan is a little friendlier than I thought it would be because of some miscues on his end, but I’ll not contest it too much.

Advanced stats:

Unit ANYA YPC Run Success Rate Points Per Drive Drive Success Rate
Vikings Offense 4.06 6.00 31.3% 1.40 57.9%
Vikings Defense 6.98 4.45 61.3% 2.33 81.8%


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  1. Do you believe Matt Kalil can be saved? Or should we trade him and move on?

    1. Yes but also yes. Does that make sense? I think he can be saved, but I don’t know if he’s worth the risk of finding out. At the very least, my “A” strategy is to draft a strong, driving tackle prospect, put him at left guard for a year while we figure out if Kalil has it. If he does, we have a great guard. If not, we have a replacement ready to go.

      1. I’ve heard you can move an o-lineman closer to the ball. But farther away is problematic. Wouldn’t you ruin the drafted rookies chances at playing LT in that scenario. Or would we draft another LT the following year?

        Then again, if the guy was a LT to start with he should be able to come back…. kinda like our current LG (who I admit is too old and probably worse than Kalil).

        1. Not really. It happens all the time, especially in college, where OTs in waiting play OG. The Rams are doing it with Greg Robinson to good effect. If the plan was designed for a true guard, it would be a problem, but doing it for a strong OT, it’s fine.

          1. Detroit’s Riley Reiff also was drafted as a OT, played G while Jeff Backus was still there then moved to tackle when Backus retired. In the up-coming draft, LSU’s La’El Collins might be the closest thing to Greg Robinson in that he’s an immensely powerful blocker with the versatility to play both inside and out. But, frankly, UI’m wondering whether they might already have a potential LT in Antonio Richardson should Kalil’s struggles perpetuate. “Tiny” Richardson was a Rival’s five-star recruit coming out of high school and was considered a future first-round pick as recently as the beginning of last year’s college season. If he can finally get healthy, he has a lot of Jason Peters to his game. Richardson was having a good camp before the Vikings determined that he needed surgery. But it sure sounds like the Vikings are making a commitment to him as a football player.


  2. Seemed like every pass was a check down or cross route. Were Jennings and CP not able to get open against a Bears defense that allowed a thousand points in the previous two games? I thought for sure they would target Rudolph, the only reason I know he played was because of the bs holding call against him. I love Teddy, but I wish I could see some coaches film to understand why every freaking pass was 3-4 yards.

    I wish we would draft so me bigger corners one of these years.

  3. Ron Jaworsky was talking about Teddy’s hand being too small again for the cold.
    well, just wait till we see them at TCF stadium on December 28 .. oh, wait….

  4. there’s a lot of tall WRs in the nfl. zimmer must have run across this problem with shorter CBs before, and sounded like he knew he should’ve made a change in yesterday’s post-game presser. better draft some good tall CBs

    kalil might not be ‘fixable’, but it’s too soon to write him off yet. he needs to improve his footwork, saw him reaching and out of position

    later today will be all about AD, but i doubt it will matter for sunday, whether he plays or not. the rules now are so well suited for 50 point games for teams with good QBs

  5. A lot of plays, it looks like Kalil weighs 150 pounds. He just blown off the line backwards. I even seen this on run plays. I don’t know if this is a strength issue, footwork issue, or timing issue. But I have seen this all season. Just imagine what JJ Watt would do to Kalil.

  6. Arif has summed it up perfectly,this one is on the coaches.How can it be obvious to anyone with just an average knowledge of football that plan A for the Bears offence was to throw to whichever receiver Josh Robinson was against,yet professional coaches can’t see it and do nothing to take that option away from an opposing QB?
    Although it wasn’t the best performance the players have put on the field,the game was still winnable,but the coaches seemed to have one plan coming in to the game,and they stuck with it instead of making adjustments.Whilst I am very disappointed for the loss,I am more frustrated with the actions of the coaching staff than anything else.
    I also have one observation about the O line.This is a group that was largely built with the vision of having Adrian Peterson running the ball,thereby having defences react by playing the run first and slowing down the pass rush.So,with the Peterson threat not there, is this line capable of solid pass protection or has it been built as primarily a run blocking unit?

  7. Kalil can let his guy go backwards. That is, I assume ok. His job is not to get beat inside or behind, imo.

    Rewatching, there were a couple of plays asiata could have chipped but didn’t. If that was the play call or whatever, we will never know but leaving a defender right in the QB’s face and not giving him an immediate target are failure.

    The bears kept a lot of people in to block. On numerous plays, I’m counting 8. Our linebackers didn’t do much in these plays in the first half of the game, anyway.

    3 minutes left in the first half and the defense looks pretty flat. On the TD play, floyd is blocked by a little guy and doesn’t fight it much at all and it ends in a bears TD. I watch floyd a lot. He has contain on the QB but the play just goes on too long.

    One play TB is throwing to a completely covered wright who gets hurt and the next he is dialed in on charles johnson. Greg jennings is running a homerun down the field but johnson gets the ball. Johnson was open though.

    The runningback passes were generally ineffective. Or terrible. Slow developing.

    That is all the farther I’ve gotten.

  8. Its almost like the coaches wanted to (ah hem .. was forced to) throw the game. Naaa, that would never happen!