Despite lopsided score, Vikings thought Bears showed no quit


Despite lopsided score, Vikings thought Bears showed no quit

By David La Vaque

MINNEAPOLIS — The Bears showed no quit, Vikings players said, despite not threatening in the second half of Sunday’s 38-17 loss.

“Any NFL team is going to come out and give you everything they’ve got,” Minnesota defensive lineman Brian Robison said. “I saw that today. I felt like there was a lot of fight in them today.”

Robison helped ensure the game and the season got away from the Bears early in the second half. His strip sack and recovery of quarterback Jay Cutler’s fumble gave Minnesota the ball. The ensuing scoring drive put the host Vikings ahead by two touchdowns.

Getting to Cutler, which Minnesota did five times, was crucial to the Vikings’ game plan.

“We knew we had to be aggressive,” defensive lineman Tom Johnson said. “We knew he was going to hold the ball and try to go downfield at times, and we needed to capitalize.”

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Johnson contributed a sack and two tackles for loss as the Bears were swept in division play by the Vikings for the first time since 2007.

“We were able to attack and get after them with the front four,” Johnson said. "We didn’t have to do as many blitzes or drops.”

The Bears’ defense, meanwhile, struggled to contain Minnesota’s offense. Even with NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson hobbled and getting limited second-half carries, the Vikings posted 350 total yards of offense.

Defensive breakdowns helped Vikings’ running back Jerick McKinnon catch four passes for 76 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs scored from 33 yards out, his first touchdown since the Nov. 1 game at Chicago.

“On those big plays, they did exactly what we thought they would, and we executed,” McKinnon said. “We didn’t miss. Some plays, the linebackers left gaps open. You saw Adrian had a good first five or six carries. Play action was open.”

Despite the lopsided final score, McKinnon felt Sunday’s game played out in the manner expected of a division rivalry. He also saw a team playing better than its 5-9 record, a team taking steps to improve under coach John Fox.

“We said all week watching them on film, they definitely got better from the beginning of the season until now,” McKinnon said. “They’ve got some playmakers both offensively and defensively. That’s a good team over there. We were going to get their best shot, and they were going to get our best shot.”

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start by new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

The Bears concluded their second round of OTAs on Thursday with the third and final set of voluntary sessions scheduled for May 29-June 1. Coach Matt Nagy is bringing a new and complicated system to Chicago, so the time spent on the practice field with the offense and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been invaluable.

"We’ve thrown a lot at Mitch in the last 2 ½ months,” Nagy told Dog Days Sports’ Danny Kanell and Steve Torre on Friday. “He’s digested it really well.”

Nagy’s implementing the same system he operated with the Chiefs, an offense that brought the best out of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. The former first-overall pick went from potential draft bust to MVP candidate under Andy Reid and Nagy’s watch.

Nagy admitted he and his staff may have been a little too aggressive with the amount of information thrust upon Trubisky so far.  It took five years to master the offense in Kansas City, he said, but the first-year head coach sees a lot of similarities between his current and past quarterbacks.

"These guys are just wired differently,” Nagy said when comparing Trubisky to Smith. “With Mitch, the one thing that you notice each and every day is this kid is so hungry. He wants to be the best. And he’s going to do whatever he needs to do. He’s so focused.”

Smith had the best year of his career in 2017 and much of the credit belongs to Nagy, who served as Smith’s position coach in each season of his tenure in Kansas City. He threw for eight touchdowns and only two interceptions during the five regular season games that Nagy took over play-calling duties last year.

Nagy said Trubisky has a similar attention to detail that Smith brought to the Chiefs’ quarterback room.

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It’s not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why,” Nagy said of Trubisky. “He’s a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City.”

A locker room that believes in its quarterback is a critically important variable for success, one that Nagy already sees exists in Chicago.

"When you have that as a coach and when you have that as being a quarterback, not everybody has that, and when you have that you’re in a good spot.”