Bears

Three Bears necessities for win vs. Vikings: Halloween edition

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Three Bears necessities for win vs. Vikings: Halloween edition

NOT-SO-FUNNY TRICKS: Also known as Mike Zimmer's defensive diet of looks, disguises, showing eight or nine in the box, and creating confusion, especially between the opposing center and guard. I'd hope the Bears' offensive line is better than the unit Detroit pieced together last week, but if Hroniss Grasu can't play or his neck injury affects his effectiveness, the musical chairs begins, and communication in adjusting to those blitz-happy, purple-pants'd Minnesotans. It led to Matthew Stafford being sacked seven times (the Vikings had ten in their first five games), and hit on 13 other occasions.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

TREAT MINNI'S O-LINE THE SAME WAY: The Bears have allowed a dozen sacks in six games. One of Teddy Bridgewater's strengths is supposed to be his elusiveness, but he's been set down 19 times in the same number of games. He was getting rag-dolled quite a bit in the first half in Detroit last week. Can Will Sutton, Mitch Unrein and Ziggy Hood hold the point somewhere close to how a healthy Jeremiah Ratliff could?

[MORE: Moon's prediction for Bears-Vikings]

DIGGS CAN BE THEIR GRAVE: To steal from the former "Saturday Night Live" nightlife correspondent: "Who's the hottest receiver in the Twin Cities right now? A bit overlooked when he arrived on the scene in May, he has EVERYTHING!  Sure hands, precise route-running, and more than anything....speeeeeed!  It's STEFON!!!"  Okay, I may have gone a bit overboard on the first two descriptions of fifth-round rookie Stefon Diggs, but hardly the last. Bears cornerbacks and the safety help up top must be on their best backpedal. After being inactive the first three weeks, he has 19 receptions for 324 yards the last three. Those numbers tie him with Anquan Boldin as the only players since 1960 with that many catches and receiving yards in their first three NFL games. A dangerous complement to the focus Adrian Peterson requires.

 

Join Lance Briggs, Dan Jiggetts, Jim Miller and Chris in the hour leading up to kickoff on "Bears Pregame Live," at 11 a.m. Sunday on Comcast SportsNet. As soon as the first half ends, log on here on CSNChicago.com for "Bears Halftime Live," as Jim and Chris break down the first two quarters and go over adjustments for the final 30 minutes. Then, as soon as the game goes final on Fox, switch back to CSN and join the four guys for 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, postgame press conferences and locker room interviews on "Bears Postgame Live."

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner. 

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

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USA Today

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup: