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Bears’ bad news? Vikings defense very good and only getting better

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Bears’ bad news? Vikings defense very good and only getting better

Each week it falls to offensive coordinator Adam Gase and his staff to devise a strategy and the tactics to deal with another NFL defense. The process involves starting with the intricacies of that defense, in this case the Minnesota Vikings and specifically what they are doing that has made their pass rush No. 8 in sack percentage after ravaging Detroit’s Matthew Stafford last weekend for seven sacks in the Vikings’ throttling of the Lions in Detroit.

The Vikings have 15 sacks over the past four games, and where exactly that pressure is coming from.

“I have no clue,” Gase said, with a sort-of smile. “They do a great job as far as disguising who is coming. That is why coach [Mike] Zimmer has had the success he has had over his career. He makes it tough offenses, he always has.

“You saw last week what it did to Detroit, so it’s been that way for a long time and you just have to do a good job of giving the quarterback options, making sure that we do a good job in our protections, knowing who to block and working our system.”

[MORE BEARS: Bears facing a more dangerous Vikings 'O' by being less AP-centric]

The Vikings operate out of a base 4-3 scheme but assault the “A” gaps on either side of opposing centers.

During Vikings Week the fixation has been on Adrian Peterson, while understandable given the Bears’ history, can obscure what has been happening on the other side of the football in Minnesota. And it is a source of considerable concern to the Bears.

And that concern is likely to extend well into the future.

How did they get this good?

While the Bears have struggled through three general managers over the past five years, making changes in large part because of draft misses, the Vikings have quietly hit on draft picks that are the major reason why they are 4-2 and becoming a threat in the NFC – tied for No. 2 in the NFL in points allowed and No. 7 in yardage given up.

[MORE BEARS: Bears moving on without Jeremiah Ratliff, but it’s not easy]

A significant proportion of those draft hits have been on a defense that has five starters from among their No. 1 picks. So good has been the Minnesota drafting that Trae Waynes, a cornerback who was among the Bears’ cluster of seven prospects worth the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, is down the depth chart as the No. 4 cornerback after the Vikings took him 11th. Part of the “problem” for Waynes is that the Vikings signed two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman last offseason. Newman was the No. 5 pick of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

(For comparison purposes only, the 1985 Bears had four No. 1’s starting on their defense. It was a different NFL-personnel era, obviously, and hardly anything scientific, but there it is.)

And the minefield confronting the Bears is not restricted to first-rounders. Linebacker Eric Kendricks, a 2015 second-round selection (No. 45 overall) out of UCLA, was just named the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month. Kendricks had 20 tackles, four sacks and one pass defensed in October. His first three starts were the Vikings’ last three games and Kendricks and had at least one sack in all three games.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph was a second-rounder of the New York Giants in 2010.

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All of which has come together in a “balanced” defense, ranked 13th in rushing yards allowed per game and 11th in passing yards, reflective of the Vikings standing eighth in sack percentage after putting Detroit quarterback Stafford down those seven times last Sunday (the Bears sacked Stafford twice the week before).

“They are a tough defense,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “Third down they’re really tough [No. 5 in the NFL] and first and second down, they’re no slouches either. They have some stuff that presents a lot of problems for us. The offensive line being the way that it is, we’re going to have to make sure our communication is on point and hopefully the guys on the outside can make some plays for us.”

Rams' trade for Jalen Ramsey will have a direct impact on Bears' season

Rams' trade for Jalen Ramsey will have a direct impact on Bears' season

The Los Angeles Rams pulled off a blockbuster trade for Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey Tuesday night, sending two first-round picks (2020 and 2021) and a 2021 fourth-round pick for the superstar defender.

It's the second trade the Rams have accomplished in one day. Los Angeles shipped CB Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for LB Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick earlier on Tuesday, completing a makeover in their secondary that will have a direct impact the Chicago Bears this season.

The Bears travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in Week 11 as part of a brutal five-game stretch coming off of their bye week. Ramsey makes it even worse.

The Rams had little choice but to pull off a mega-deal like this. They're entering Week 7 with the 19th ranked pass defense and an underwhelming 3-3 record, a far cry from the expectations for last year's Super Bowl runner-up.

Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense will have their hands full on November 17. The combination of Aaron Donald on the defensive line and Ramsey in the secondary is as intimidating as any defensive duo in the NFL and is capable of destroying even the smartest and most efficient passing attacks. And that's not exactly Chicago's pass offense so far.

Trubisky, who's expected to return from a left shoulder injury Sunday against the Saints, hasn't proven this season that he's capable of staring down the barrel of a Donald-Ramsey alliance. It will be a ridiculously difficult challenge for a quarterback who's still finding his way as a pro.

Ramsey has missed the last three games for a variety of reasons, most of which appear as tricks to remain healthy in anticipation of a trade.  He's a two-time Pro Bowler and has nine interceptions from 2016-2018.

Now, Ramsey is an opponent on Chicago's 2019 schedule. 

Power Ranking Roundup: The bye week didn't do the Bears any favors

Power Ranking Roundup: The bye week didn't do the Bears any favors

The Bears didn't play last week, but did that stop them from falling in Power Rankings across The Web? It did not! Going into the bye on a loss never fails to stoke the panic. Here's what they're saying: 

NBC Sports Chicago -- #16
Their power rankings slide is because of how well other teams performed Sunday; Chicago doesn't feel like a top-15 team when compared to the rest of the NFL.

NFL.com -- #9
The Bears do have a player who's good at all that stuff when given a chance -- that would be running back Tarik Cohen, who already had nine such "big plays" through five games a year ago. In 2019? He has just one, despite being healthy and available each week. Bears coach Matt Nagy needs to get Cohen involved.

ESPN -- #16
Their vertical passing attack is limited with Mitchell Trubisky or Chase Daniel at quarterback. The offense has been equally ineffective on the ground. Chicago has gained eight or more rushing yards on just 10 running plays through five games.

Bleacher Report -- #10
Chicago had best make good use of this week off and get things figured out. Four of the team's next five games after the bye are against teams that made the postseason a year ago, including trips to face the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams.

Sports Illustrated -- #17
A Vikings win this week and strong starts from the Lions and Packers suddenly raises the stake Sunday’s game against the Saints. Unfortunately, New Orleans has a similarly great defense and a much better offense than the Bears.

CBS Sports -- #13
They come off the bye looking to generate more on offense. But it was the defense that also had some issues in London. That unit needs to pick it up as well.

USA Today -- #14
Coming out of bye, club currently just outside playoff picture hits brutal stretch with just two of final 11 opponents currently below .500.

Yahoo Sports -- #11
The Bears have only two games left against teams who are currently under .500. They face the Chargers and Giants, who are both 2-4 and not totally incapable. If the Bears make it back to the playoffs, it’ll be impressive.

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