Here are my thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings, as currently constructed, as the Bears prepare to face them in the horribly cold conditions at the University of Minnesota. I'm straying from the normal analysis and trying to look at this one a bit differently.
- I want Percy Harvin to start. I have sung Dave Toub's praises on this site for almost the entirety of his tenure with the Chicago Bears, crediting him for the league's most successful kicking/kick return game over the second half of this last decade. Was that credit deserved? I don't know. I'm not sophisticated enough to be able to breakdown the performances of punt/kick return and coverage units without the advantage of game film and a staff of eight additional coaches who are paid to break down every second of a ballgame. But one thing has become apparent to me watching the Bears special teams over the past three week (Eagles, Lions, Patriots): they are wasting their brilliance in the return game by failing to cover downfield. If the Bears continue this trend, the playoffs will be a disaster against the solid return games of Philly, Atlanta and maybe even a club like Seattle. I want Harvin to start and play well and test these units.
- How can we analyze the quarterback? We can't. So we have to assume the Vikings are going to run the ball in the range of 30-40 times with both AP and Toby Gerhart. Injuries along their offensive line will be a hindrance to this.
- What's happened to the Vikings rush defense? Eli Manning was throwing horrible interceptions all over the field and the Vikes allowed Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to run the ball through them for 219 yards on only 25 carries.
- Sidney Rice is all the way back from injury and has made a couple spectacular catches in the few weeks since his return. This catch was my favorite.
- Visanthe Shiancoe's interview after the Giants debacle revealed the kind of emotions you like to see from NFL athletes. (I can't find the video but it was airing on NFL Network.) In the locker room he was saddened by the team's failures and seemed ready to kill someone. A tight end can't do much on his own but if he can instill this passion in his teammates, don't expect the Vikings to roll over.
- Les Frazier doesn't strike me as the kind of coach that ever rolls over. It doesn't seem any of those '85 Bears do. Frazier is 2-1 as head coach, with tough games against the Bears and at the Eagles coming up before finishing with the Detroit Lions. I would imagine Frazier sees this game as a brilliant line on his resume when sitting down with Zygi Wilf at season's end. If he beat the eventual division champion with a backup quarterback...how could they argue against him?