Four “Under The Radar” Players In Tonight’s Matchup

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 16, 2011 – 10:41 am

We’ve spent the four days talking about tonight’s Vikings-Bears matchup on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and the discussion has focused on everything from the importance of special teams, to Chicago’s pass protection against the Vikings pass rush, to the pair of premier RBs in this matchup with Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson both among the NFL’s top rushers so far this season.

Through it all, though, there are four players about whom we haven’t talked enough. So, we’ll talk about them right now. There are two on each team, and we’ll start with the Vikings…

TE Visanthe Shiancoe and DT Kevin Williams
The Vikings best offensive weapon through 5 games has been Peterson, and he’s played well against the Bears in his career. So we can expect to see a lot of Peterson early in the game. But at some point the Vikings will have to supplement their ground attack with a strike or two through the air, and that’s where Shiancoe enters the picture. No, he’s not the Vikings top option in the passing game, but that might be precisely why he can be a factor tonight. With only 11 catches and 1 TD on the season, Chicago may pay more attention to other threats, such as Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins. You can also be sure the Bears will make sure one of their former players – either Devin Aromashodu or Bernard Berrian – doesn’t burn them. I’m guessing Chicago will play a lot of Cover 2 defense, which is customary for them, and I’m thinking they’ll load up to stop the run. This could create plenty of one-on-one opportunities for Shiancoe, and he’s due to win a few of those matchups and find the endzone.

With Williams, my thinking is the soggy field and poor footing could slightly limit DE Brian Robison’s advantage over new starting RT Lance Louis. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Robison over Louis, but there’s no doubt Robison is better on a fast surface. The slow surface also takes a bit of Jared Allen’s advantage away because he, too, is a speed rusher off the edge who likes a fast track. That sets the stage for Williams, one of the NFL’s top interior defensive lineman and a guy who is hitting full stride right now after missing the first two games of the season. Chicago’s starting center used to be a guard, their left guard used to be an offensive tackle, and their new starting right guard is listed as a guard/center and is coming off a broken hand. Advantage: Kevin Williams

LB Lance Briggs and WR Dane Sanzenbacher
One name is familiar to you (Briggs), and the other probably is not (Sanzenbacher). But both are important pieces to the puzzle for Chicago. An argument can be made that Briggs is the best outside LB in the NFL. He’s very good against the run and he can drop back and play the pass also. Briggs has finished 1st or 2nd in tackles for the Bears every year since 2004, he’s earned 6 straight Pro Bowls and he’s accumulated the following impressive list of statistics: 10.5 sacks, 12 INTs, 48 pass break ups, 12 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries and 66 tackles for a loss. That stat line illustrates just how complete a player Briggs is for this defense.

Sanzenbacher is a rookie and he’s listed as the 5th WR on Chicago’s depth chart, but don’t let any of that disguise his importance and potential impact on this team or on tonight’s game. It’s been described to me that Sanzenbacher now runs the pass routes that TE Greg Olsen used to run in this offense, and that’s an important point because Olsen had success against the Vikings during his Bears career. In 8 career games against the Vikings, Olsen had 31 receptions for 313 yards and 3 TDs. And over the last 2 seasons against the Vikings (4 games), Olsen never had fewer than 3 receptions in a game and he had 2 TDs. Sanzenbacher is not the same player as Olsen, obviously, but he can have a similar or greater impact if the Vikings don’t respect him and cover him up.

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 26 Comments »

26 Responses to “Four “Under The Radar” Players In Tonight’s Matchup”

  1. By Parody on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    It’s no surprise that a TE who plays 2-games a year against the Vikings has some good stats against the team. Our defensive scheme is focused on not giving up the big plays at whatever cost. So underneath receivers like TEs can easily rack up some big numbers.

    I want to see more turnovers like we had last week. That generally requires a more agressive defensive scheme though. But if the defense can produce the turnovers like they did last week, then we have a very good chance of sneaking out of this one with the second win of the season.

  2. By Parody on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    By the way – what does our defense look like at the 4th-Defensive Line position? The way that people talk about the line, you’d think we’re running a 3-4 defense because the second DT is NEVER mentioned. Is that a position that gets a lot of rotation, or is he just not able to produce any stats?

  3. By Mike Wobschall on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Both, I think. There is quite a bit of rotation between Remi Ayodele and Fred Evans. Even Guion sometimes, although he’s primarily Kevin Williams’ backup. But this is more of a gap-clogging position…Pat Williams’ old position.

  4. By Twoodsnvikes on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    S*ck for luck guys we are close!

  5. By Mike Wobschall on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Loser’s mentality.

  6. By Twoodsnvikes on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Actually it’s winner’s mentality, I am looking at the long-term success of the Vikings. Luck could be the starting QB for 20 years and lead us to ten championships. Sacrifice one season for 20 years success. Yeah, I win.

  7. By Twoodsnvikes on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Any wins from this point forward are pointless and will only mean lower draft picks. Anyone with a brain and that wants to be realistic knows we are out of the playoffs. Rebuild, Luck, AD, Allen, No berrian, draft a great WR and shutdown corner an we are set

  8. By Twoodsnvikes on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    It will be hard to beat out Miami for Luck since they appear to be the front runners right now since St. Louis and the Colts will most likely not draft a QB.

  9. By ozzinator on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Titus, any word on Moss coming back yet?

  10. By Northern Norseman on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Is anyone here a season ticket holder? Just curious

  11. By Northern Norseman on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    I feel the 50th season was the closing of a great but very very difficult time for purple nation. The 50th season had every single weird, awful, down right confusing thing happen every single week………… top it with a Packer Super Bowl and it was the capper to a half-century of purple pride pigskin. The next 50 years are the new beginning of something special. I feel it in my northern norseman bones and it will be the best years of our lives. Barooooo! Its time to show our horns.

  12. By Northern Norseman on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Oh by the way! When….. NOT IF……. WHEN….. the Vikings win the Super Bowl, purple nation needs to get as many buses as possible filled with as many Viking fans as possible………… drive down to Lambardi Ave in Hicksville USA (Green Bay) and have the biggest celebration of our lives.

  13. By Justin F on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    We don’t need Luck, Twoodsnvikes. Get your head out of your butt. We have to address the Offensive and Defensive Lines (along with the secondary). Luck deserves to go to MIami where they NEED A QB.

  14. By Pud Grand on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Well, ya know, maybe if McNabb drops dead tonight, they might put in Ponder…

  15. By teamkillin on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Frazier should know how to handle the Bears’ D.

  16. By Dryes on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Cutler’s going to look like a p0rnstar tonight!! A female p0rnstar on her back most of the evening taking it from the Viking’s BIG D!! Please don’t cry this time, Cutler. Baroooooooooom!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. By Dryes on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    YEah, Mcnabb looks like an old version of dumb, rebellious teenager who still thinks that dreaming alone creates an ideal reality. So THATS why he never wakes up:) Man, I wish they would’ve gone for Hasselbeck or ANYONE who can play pro football at an adequate level. Unless, of course, they are bombing to land Luck next year.

  18. By tdurfeightyeight on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Williams presence has made life easier for the rest of the defensive line.Shiancoe needs to knock off the bone head penalties.Briggs has always been a nightmare for the Vikes and this Haussenfeffer guy is pretty good i heard his name called alot during MNF.Maybe just maybe this could be Donavan’s night…We’ll see

    Trvia time…When was the last time the Vikings had the first pick in the draft and who was it ?

  19. By Frederick Jones on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Missed draft picks can CRUCIFY a ball club.

    All I did was check the 2005 draft and this is what I found:

    The Vikings selected Troy Williamson with their 7th pick
    and Erasmus James with their 18th pick.

    Among the people we could have selected instead:
    Defensive Backs: Antrel Rolle, and Carlos Rogers !
    Wide Receiver: Roddy White
    Quarterbacks: AARON RODGERS and Jason Campbell
    ….Mind you we could have drafted ANY TWO of these guys !


    Guard David Baas has started 58 of 96 NFL games, and started the
    the first 4 games for the powerful NY Giants team in 2011 ! ! !

    Tackle Michael Roos has started 101 of 101 NFL games !

    Center Chris Spencer 74 of 85 starts, including the first 4 Bears games up to the time of Pro Football Reference records !

    Tackle Jamal Brown…I didn’t look him up, but I have heard he is a starter
    in the NFL.

    Oh, sure other teams also missed some of these people. But there were
    four (4) Offensive Linemen that would start for the current 2011 MN Vikings!!!!!!


  20. By Frederick Jones on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    Jamal Brown happens to be a 2-time Pro Bowler!

  21. By tdurfeightyeight on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    @ Mr. Jones, I agree with your opinion the picks have been miserable over the last few years. Ryan Cook over Greg Jennings is another good one.

  22. By MJH on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply


    Is Berrian playing? He has a hard time making team meetings. I hope he can make it to the game.

  23. By MJH on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    I am absolutely convinced this team could do no worse than if they were to play video games and smoke pot the whole week for preparation. This display of football is a slap in the face to legends such as Page, Eller, Foreman, Tarkenton, etc…What a disgrace to look this bad against an average Bears team. Good thing we don’t have to play the Gophers.

  24. By Rick B. on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    As a Vikings/football fan as well I saw two things last night that couldn’t be more apparent total mental breakdown, and weak preparation, can you say bye, bye coaching staff. Let’s start there as that is a coaching issue, PREPARATION, and the ease in which the team quits under adversity.

  25. By Rick B. on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Dream On, great Aerosmith song, also very much applies to your comment, Turnovers, did you say Turnovers, Turnovers, How can you talk about Turnovers when the Viking whole game preparat;ion, as well as their there constant mental mistakes, is what a call a GAME TURNOVER, meaning the Vikings at the end of the day TURN THE GAME OVER, through their whole approach while preparing for the game on Sunday. this is a classic coaching issue and I say no better time to deal with it then here, and now. Fire the entire coaching staff ASAP, STAT, however you want to say it but the Vikings as a team cannot even think of getting better until this task is done, the first cut is the deepest, so suck it up, and cut deep.

  26. By Rick B. on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    I apologize for all the typos my keyboard is on the fritz, and it has trouble keeping up with my typing speed.

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