For much of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, players were positions to make winning plays; too often on offense, defense and special teams they didn’t. “In key moments you gotta make plays,” said coach John Fox. “That is throughout the football team.”
Offensively the Bears opted for a conservative offensive game plan intended to minimize chances for mistakes. “I think that’s kind of a common formula, so yes,” Fox responded to a question about the strategy on offense.
The decision to go for a fourth-and-one midway through the fourth quarter seemed to nothing short of Fox giving Gase and his offense a chance to win a much-needed football game. Or for that matter, possibly assuming that his defense could not muster a stop of the Vikings so the only chance of a win lay with keeping his defense off the field.
Gase employed wildcat sets with a direct snap to Matt Forte, a pistol package with Jeremy Langford behind Jay Cutler and myriad personnel packages with injuries taking Forte and Eddie Royal out of the offense.
Whether because of concerns over a shuffled offensive line or worries about the sack potential of the Minnesota front, the Bears went rarely downfield through the first half, to the point of losing yardage on a handful of screen and flat passes that lost yardage. Cutler completed all four of his first-quarter passes but for a total of 11 yards and a long of seven.
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]
The Vikings are renowned for their blitz packages, particularly in the interior, but coordinator Vic Fangio showed blitz packages that produced early pressures and stops, although his pass rushers failed to get home against Teddy Bridgewater with the exception of a Pernell McPhee sack. Fangio sent linebackers in to both “A” gaps as well as safety Adrian Amos for a near-sack in the first quarter, all forcing the Vikings to do the adjusting.
Special teams appeared in disarray yet again, spotlighted by a 65-yard touchdown punt return by the Vikings in the first quarter on which coverage was scattered and punter Patrick O’Donnell offered zero effort at a tackle of any kind over the final 20 or so yards.
Moon's Grade: B