Two teams quite familiar with one another will battle at Soldier Field this Sunday when the Vikings and Bears engage in an important NFC North battle. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress mentioned to reporters on Wednesday that this year’s Bears defense looks similar – personnel-wise – to the Bears defense the Vikings faced last year – with one exception.
This year’s Bears defense likes to blitz.
“While the structure of the defense is essentially the same, you see a lot more fire zones, the linebackers coming, safeties coming, that type of thing,” Childress explained. “More aggressive from that standpoint. That’s a marked difference.”
The Vikings will need to be buttoned up in their blitz protection schemes, particularly RBs Toby Gerhart and Adrian Peterson. Both players have improved in their pass protection and both players must take another step forward in that area to protect QB Brett Favre on Sunday.
The Bears tendency to blitz is one form of their aggressiveness on defense, but another is their penchant for forcing turnovers, specifically fumbles. They do this by making a point to punch and rake at the football while defensive teammates hold the ball-carrier up.
“They’re a great rake it, strip it, try to punch it out team,” Childress said. “You have to be mindful of taking care of the football here because they do a great job of the second guy in the pile trying to take it.”
The Bears have forced more fumbles (20) than any other NFL team and only 4 teams have recovered more fumbles than Chicago (9). Peterson, who dealt with fumbling issues last year but so far this year has rectified the problem, has taken note of the Bears fumble-forcing habits.
“They’d rather try to strip the ball than tackle first,” Peterson said. “That can hurt you in the long run. That’s one thing those guys do. I’ve seen it on tape. I’ve just got to continue doing what I’ve been doing; keeping the ball high and tight and taking advantage of those guys stripping the ball instead of going for the tackle.”
Despite the high number of turnovers Chicago’s offense has committed, the Bears are still +1 in turnover ratio, a stat that is a testament to an aggressive, opportunistic defense.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart
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