Bears

Bears facing a more dangerous Vikings 'O' by being less AP-centric

petersonbridgewaterslide.png

Bears facing a more dangerous Vikings 'O' by being less AP-centric

“Adrian.” “Peterson.”

Two words that for a long time have visited true fear upon Chicago football. Not necessarily so anymore. But that is not necessarily good news, not by any means.

The Minnesota Vikings running back exploded on the Bears for 224 rushing yards, 128 return yards and three touchdowns as a rookie back in 2007. The last time the Bears saw Peterson, on Dec. 1, 2013, Peterson put 211 yards on the Bears in a 23-20 Minnesota win.

But that was then. And the NFL of “now” is not exactly the same one that he left one week into the 2014 season due to circumstances surrounding a case of child-abuse allegations. The NFL game is changing, nowhere more evident than in Minnesota.

[MORE BEARS: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will tough it out to eat shrimp]

In his absence the Vikings have moved away from an AP-centered offense under coordinator Norv Turner and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the second of their two No. 1 picks in the 2014 draft. The spread offense of so many colleges has become a bigger part of the NFL game, including in Minnesota. Peterson is lining up more often without a blocking fullback than was his custom for so many years and results have begun to be questioned.

On 29 of his 45 carries over the past two weeks, Peterson was stopped for 2 or fewer yards, according to Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Peterson carried 19 times against Detroit and was held to 2 or fewer yards 14 times.

“It’s a big difference, but I knew that coming back,” Peterson said. “I knew it last year before week one with coach Turner, what he presents. I’ve been adjusting to it.”

But the bigger change may lie within Peterson, no longer the dominant back of his prime but also not demanding to be.

[MORE BEARS: Bears problems at wide receiver producing 'better' Jay Cutler]

“My philosophy is whatever,” he said. “They brought coach Turner in for a reason because he has a great mind, he has a great scheme. Of course, he wants to lead the team to a championship as well. My whole approach is to do my job, so whatever they ask of me, just try to do it to the best of my ability. If that’s sacrificing, then I’m willing to do that.

“I’m all about trying to win a championship. If that’s getting 3 or 4 yards and keeping the chains moving, finishing with 80 yards and Teddy finishes with 300 [passing] yards and we win, I’m satisfied with that because I’m trying to get a ring.”

But here is the considerably bigger problem now: It does not seem to matter whether an opponent stops Peterson. The Vikings are still winning.

Peterson ran for 134 and 126 yards in Minnesota wins against Detroit and San Diego in Weeks 2 and 3. Then the Kansas City Chiefs held Peterson to 60 rushing yards and 2.3 yards per carry, and lost. The Lions kept him under 100 yards (98), and lost.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

The Vikings have won four of their last five games. The only loss came at Denver, not because the Broncos shut down Peterson, but because they sacked Bridgewater seven times.

The overall, which has seen the Vikings have eight No. 1 picks over the past four years, has allowed the Vikings to tilt away from being AP-centric.

“I think Mike [Zimmer, coach] and their organization have done a good job,” said coach John Fox. “They’re a young football team, good young talent. It’s a team game.

“I know Adrian is a great player and we recognize his accomplishments and what he’s done. But they’re playing good ball in all three phases. They’ve won some close games, they get turnovers in defense. This is the ultimate team game and they play good team football.”

Kyle Long knows he messed up, and is ready to do what it takes to put the fighting incidents behind him

Kyle Long knows he messed up, and is ready to do what it takes to put the fighting incidents behind him

Kyle Long understands the position he’s put himself in. 

It wasn’t a week to remember for the Bears’ starting guard, who got into two separate fights over the span of three practices. Despite the relatively small likelihood he would have played, as punishment, Long was subsequently left off the team flight to New York for their preseason game against the Giants. 

“Obviously, what I did was absolutely unacceptable,” Long said after Tuesday’s practice. “As a human being, as a teammate, without question what I did was uncalled for. It was so far over the line that it was on me to handle that internally, and speak to the people that I needed to speak to.” 

Everyone around Halas Hall chalked up Long’s first scuffle with Akiem Hicks as nothing more than training camp frustrations. “Let’s clarify this: Everybody has a temper,’’ Hicks said. ‘‘Everybody gets upset. If somebody spills their coffee, you’re gonna get upset.

It was the second fight — one that saw Long remove undrafted rookie defensive end Jalen Dalton’s helmet, hit him with it, and then toss said helmet off the field — that forced the Bears’ hand. 

“It reflected poorly on the organization, the city, and the offensive line room,” he said. “That was never my intention. Moving forward, I intend to make living amends.”

Long wouldn’t go into much depth about the reason behind either fight, only mentioning that he “got a little frustrated, and it boiled over.” Talking with media after practice, he stressed the importance of publicly clearing the air before he, or the team, could move forward. 

“I think it's important and I know that the fans have a very close eye or touch on the pulse of the team of what's going on,” he said. “If I’m a fan, the last thing I want to hear about is a fight at practice. It's a distraction from what we're trying to do, which is go out and get ready for the Packers eventually and go put together some wins in the football season.” 

Before the whistle, Long’s had one of the best camps of a career that’s now going on seven seasons. The three-time Pro Bowler said that he hasn’t been this healthy since his rookie year, and that he’d “put this camp up there with any of them [he’d] be apart of.” With the air cleared and all parties on the same page, both Long and the Bears consider the fights a closed case. 

“We’re past it,” Matt Nagy added. “Now it’s not about talking anymore. For us, it’s about everybody showing what we can do. It’s showing by your actions, whether that’s being a good football player or being a good person. 

“I always tell my kids, ‘Don’t talk about it; be about it.’ So it’s time to start being about it.”

Bears now tied for best odds to reach Super Bowl from NFC

nagy_throwing.jpg
USA TODAY

Bears now tied for best odds to reach Super Bowl from NFC

The Bears haven’t shown what their 2019 starters can do yet this preseason, but the oddsmakers in Las Vegas seem to be on board with Matt Nagy’s plans for the upcoming season.

The money is coming in on Chicago to win the Super Bowl, and the most popular sportsbooks shifted the odds for the Bears to win the conference.

They’re now tied for the best chances to reach the Super Bowl from the NFC at both MGM and Westgate, according to CBS Sports.

Both books see the Bears and Saints as favorites at 5/1 odds, while Westgate views the Rams and Eagles as equally likely.

MGM is much higher on the Packers’ chances, and both have the Vikings in the top seven.

The path to a Super Bowl berth is never easy, and Chicago will have as difficult a path as any team with two other contenders in the division.

Every single team on the odds list appears on the Bears 2019 regular-season schedule.