Week 5: Vikings And Bears – Three Reasons For Optimism

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Week 5: Vikings and Bears – Three Reasons For Optimism

By all accounts, last week was a tough one. Outside of the Vikings’ sobering loss to the Detroit Lions, we witnessed the gut-wrenching event in Las Vegas and the death of music legend Tom Petty. Like much of the country, Vikings fans are in mourning, once again attempting to move forward after a crippling turn of events.

Dalvin Cook, the team’s most electric rookie running back since Adrian Peterson, is done for the year after tearing his ACL. Cook is undoubtedly the team’s best back, and his loss has left many Vikings fans pondering if the team can even compete without him in the lineup.

For whatever reason, it seems the football gods keep creating reasons for the Vikings and their fan base to give up hope. Yet, despite the all-too-familiar news for Minnesota’s football team, there are multiple reasons why the franchise can’t, and won’t, back down.

Latavius Murray has become the Vikings starting running back. Last week against Detroit he rushed for 21 yards on seven carries after Cook was injured. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Murray still has a sore ankle from offseason surgery, but he’s expected to play a great deal going forward. Tonight will be Murray’s first real test in purple.

Jerick McKinnon will also see more playing time. With Cook’s injury, the shifty McKinnon now has the opportunity to prove whether or not he’s worthy of an extension this offseason. Stevan Ridley, whom the Vikings picked up on Thursday, was released today so receiver Michael Floyd could be activated.

The Vikings must continue to see improvement from the offensive line and passing game in order to establish a balanced offensive attack. The passing game, which has been a pleasant surprise throughout much of the first quarter of the season, will receive a boost (or two) tonight.

Minnesota Vikings
  1. Sam Bradford – According to ESPN, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he expects Bradford to return tonight against the Chicago Bears. Bradford hasn’t played since Week 1. He returned to practiced this week and said he’s feeling much better about his knee injury after receiving a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. In Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, Bradford threw for a career-high 346 yards with three touchdowns. In typical Bradford fashion he had an 84.4% completion rate.
  2. Michael Floyd – Like Bradford, Floyd also returned to practice this week. The wide receiver was suspended the first four games of the season stemming from a DWI incident in Arizona last December. Floyd was a standout in training camp. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound wideout will provide Bradford with another playmaker on the outside to pair with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
  3. Mitchell Trubisky – Yes, the Chicago Bears starting quarterback is on the Vikings’ list of reasons to be optimistic. Why? He’s a rookie signal caller that started only thirteen games in college. The Vikings defense had six sacks against Detroit last week. The unit has allowed 246.8 passing yards per game this season and ranks fourth in the NFL in scoring defense. It’s not exactly an easy match-up for Trubisky in his NFL debut.
Chicago Bears
  1. Mitchell Trubisky – The Bears started 27 year-old Mike Glennon at quarterback for the first four games. He was a turnover machine. Glennon went 93 of 140 (66.4% completion rate) for 833 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had three fumbles. Up to this point, his quarterback rating is 25.4. Enter rookie Mitchell Trubisky. This offseason, the Bears traded up in the draft to select Trubisky at number two overall. After a strong preseason and four games backing up Glennon, Trubisky now has the opportunity to show why the Bears think he can become their franchise quarterback.
  2. Young runners – With a rookie starting at quarterback, the Bears will try to open up their rushing attack. Comprising their backfield is 2016 fifth-round pick Jordan Howard and rookie fourth-rounder Tarik Cohen. Last season, Howard rushed for 1,313 yards with six touchdowns. In two games against the Vikings, he ran for 288 yards. This year, he’s averaging 4.0 yards per carry, while Howard’s complement, Cohen, is averaging 6.0 yards per carry. The dynamic duo will face a Vikings defense that ranks third in the NFL against the run.
  3. Home field advantage – The Vikings have won, count ’em, two games in Chicago since the year 2000. Enough said? Ok then.

Despite the adversity the Vikings have already experienced this season, they must continue to move forward as a team. Remember, with unity comes hope.