Bears

DST grades: Peterson's 'soft hundred' leaves Bears unhappy

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DST grades: Peterson's 'soft hundred' leaves Bears unhappy

Members of the Bears defense were mad. Theyd just held the Minnesota Vikings, with the NFLs leading rusher, to 10 points, the first time Minnesota has been held under 20 all season, and they were mad.

The miff was coming from allowing Adrian Peterson to net 108 yards. One lineman called it a soft hundred but put the blame squarely on the unit for not making tackles when they were there to be made. Petersons yards were indeed soft, coming largely after the Bears were up by three scores. Peterson had 25 rushing yards in the first half and 10 on the Vikings first possession of the third quarter so 73 yards over the final 19 minutes when the game was effectively over.

The overall was an effective shutdown of Minnesota, with the Vikings totaling just 181 yards through three quarters and mounting only one drive longer than 3-and-a-half minutes.

The Bears led the NFL with an opponent passer rating of 65.9 before the game and even improved on that, holding Christian Ponder to 58.2.

DEFENSIVE LINE A-

The sack total was modest, with one on the games first play by defensive tackle Henry Melton (sixth this season) and a second shared by Israel Idonije and Shea McClellin in the fourth quarter sack of Christian Ponder to end a possession. The Bears combined for seven hits on Ponder, with McClellin and Melton each getting two.

The line play was key, however, in getting to Adrian Peterson repeatedly on his side of the line and forcing early cuts in his runs to prevent him from reaching escape velocity. Julius Peppers took a lead role in calling stunts and specifics on various plays, giving the Vikings linemen changing assignments almost on the fly.

LINEBACKERS A

Nick Roach forced an Adrian Peterson fumble in the first quarter that led to the Bears first touchdown. Flow to the ball was excellent and contributed to holding Peterson to 65 yards through three quarters, with no run longer than 14 yards. Roach, playing heavy minutes with the Vikings' use of Peterson, tied for Bears high with seven tackles, six of them solo.

Lance Briggs also had seven stops, five solos, and broke up two passes. He and Brian Urlacher (four stops) combined with Roach to take Peterson away from dominating the game.

SECONDARY A

Kelvin Hayden, pressed into regular-down duty after an ankle injury to Charles Tillman, saved a TD with a fourth-quarter pass breakup and locked up WR Michael Jenkins on the next play as well to turn back a four-down effort with momentum at stake.

Tillman outfought Peterson for a fumble on the Vikings third possession to set up a touchdown and broke up a third-down slant pattern on Minnesotas second possession to force a field goal.

Run support from safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright was not flawless, but tackling Adrian Peterson rarely is. And Conte broke up two passes while coming up with an interception to set up a touchdown and nearly tipped a ball for another.

Tim Jennings was strong in open-field tackling and finished with five solo tackles.

Altogether, Bears defensive backs broke up nine passes as part of holding Christian Ponder to 22-of-43 passing for 159 yards, a TD, and INT and a passer rating of just 58.2.

COACHING A

After the debacle in San Francisco, coaches prepared for a rushing onslaught from Adrian Peterson by stressing basics and gaps, but also have wanted the defensive linemen in particular also to read the offense. Julius Peppers has stunt responsibilities as coaches have put the game in the players hands, with solid results again.

The mix of safeties on Cover-2 and Cover-1 alignments for run support may have benefited from the absence of injured receiver Percy Harvin. But the Bears committed to making the Vikings one-dimensional, and taking away Peterson and forcing Ponder to beat them was solid planning and execution.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The return game remains an issue with Devin Hester unable to regain his mojo of past seasons, and then being sidelined with a concussion. But other areas of special teams responded, with a two-point conversion and blocked field goal.

KICKING A-

Robbie Gould was good from 47 and 46 yards to get points from stalled possessions. Adam Podlesh executed a perfect fake PAT and ran in a two-point conversion. He also was good for 43.3 yards per on four punts, none returned and two inside the 20.

Julius Peppers turned in the 12th kick block of his career. But the Vikings blocked a Gould field goal late in the second quarter.

COVERAGE A

The Vikings were not able to return any of Adam Podleshs four punts. Marcus Sherels returned one kickoff 38 yards but the other two KORs were for 14 and 15 yards. The Vikings had an average starting field position of their own 29 and started eight out of 10 possessions after kicks from inside their own 30.

RETURNS C-

Devin Hester did nothing with a first-quarter punt return when he appeared to have running room and was replaced on the next kickoff return by Eric Weems. Hester left the game with a concussion in the first quarter. Weems returned three kickoffs an average of 21.7 with a long of 27.

COACHING A

The scouting of Minnesotas kick-block unit was exploited for a two-point conversion. Bears coverage units were near flawless and prevented the Vikings from gaining any sort of advantage or momentum after either punts or kickoffs.

First and Final Thoughts: Is Trubisky going to play on Thanksgiving?

First and Final Thoughts: Is Trubisky going to play on Thanksgiving?

Welcome into First and Final Thoughts, one of our weekly columns with a title that's a little too on the nose. Here we'll have Insider J.J Stankevitz and Producers Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan give some insight into what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on Week 11

Paul Aspan: “Who do you block?” That was Akiem Hicks’ response when asked about the Bears defensive dominance against the Vikings. Khalil Mack & Eddie Jackson continued to add to the Bears NFL-leading 27 takeaways, but it was Hicks who (continued to)  set the tone from the very first drive by blowing up a 3rd and inches and forcing the Vikings into a 3 and out.

The Bears put everyone on notice on the national stage that yes, they are for real and in control of the NFC North, in a 25-20 win that wasn’t even that close.

Monday & Tuesday did bring an unwelcome surprise with the news that Mitchell Trubisky’s status is in doubt for Thursday’s short turnaround against the Lions. Anytime the franchise QB lands on the injury report is unnerving but the good news is that Matt Nagy is at least saying it’s not a long term concern. So even if Mitch misses Thursday, he’ll have 10 more days to rest up for the final month.

Cam Ellis: Based in tiny part to his incredible play but mostly due to this hilarious mic'd up video, this seems like the time and the place to give Akeim Hicks his due. If the Patriots hadn't spent the last 20 years getting rid of their best defensive talent far too early, it'd almost be surprising that they let Hicks walk after the 2016 season. In the first year as a Bear, Hicks put up a career-best 8.5 sacks, and he's been one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in football this season:

He's probably headed to the Pro Bowl this season, and if not for Bryce Callahan, Hicks would probably be considered the best defensive player not named Khalil Mack. 

First Thought on Week 12

Aspan: So Chase Daniel huh? The 85 hour turnaround was always going to be a challenge but that certainly adds another wrinkle if Trubisky is forced to watch from the sidelines.  But this is still the same Lions team that allowed the Bears six sacks just two weeks ago. That doesn’t just fix itself. This is also the same leaky secondary - that despite beating the Panthers - allowed D.J. Moore to catch 7 passes for 157 yards and a TD, one week after allowing Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson 100 yard days.

The Bears are clearly the better team, regardless of who’s playing quarterback. This game will probably be closer than it should be, but here’s to counting on the Bears to back up Sunday night’s showing with another W.

Ellis: While having a QB show up on the injury  is never a good thing, the Bears' situation is about as good as you can expect, given the circumstances. The Lions have the the 29th ranked overall defense by DVOA, so theoretically a Chase Daniels offense could hand the ball off enough to not lose. The 30th ranked secondary in the NFL isn't going to be *that* much better against Chase Daniels than they would Mitch Trubisky. Next week? The Giants have the 27th ranked pass defense and are the 20th ranked rush group. All things considered, it could be a lot worse. There's a reason Daniels is one of the highest-paid backups in football. 

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Cubs make multiple moves to fill out 40-man roster

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USA TODAY

Cubs make multiple moves to fill out 40-man roster

Tuesday night was the deadline to set 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs made a flurry of moves with that in mind.

Earlier in the day the Cubs claimed pitcher Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox. They followed up by trading Jason Vosler to the Padres for right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick.

Wick, who turned 26 less than two weeks ago, got a call-up late in 2018 with the Padres. He made his MLB debut on Aug. 31 and totaled 10 appearances out of the bullpen. He had a 6.48 ERA in 8 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and just one walk. The improved control was a good sign after Wick walked 31 batters in 54 innings between Double-A and Triple-A earlier in the season, but he gave up 13 hits in the majors.

Going the other way, Vosler is a 25-year-old infielder who had been in the Cubs organization since getting drafted in 2014. He worked his way up to Triple-A this past season. Vosler hit .263/.306/.458 for the Iowa Cubs in 63 games.

The Cubs also added left-handed pitcher Justin Steele to the 40-man roster. Steele was a fifth-round pick of the Cubs out of high school in 2014 and came from injury in 2018. He made 11 starts between rookie ball, Single-A and Double-A before recently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

Clarkin, Steele and Wick join the 40-man roster for the Cubs, which now stands at 39.

In addition to Vosler exiting, the Rangers claimed Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Cubs. The Cubs had claimed Reinheimer off waivers from the Mets on Nov. 2. Outfielder Johnny Field and left-handed pitcher Jerry Vasto, both of which were claimed off waivers since the 2018 season ended, both cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa.

 

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