The Bears are scheduled to host the Vikings on Monday night, but “…with 11 players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list and all three coordinators in protocols as well,” (Alex Shapiro, NBCSports Chicago) we may have to see if the schedule changes.
Postponement Possible, Forfeit Unlikely
Shapiro also writes, “According to a league memo shared by Tom Pelissero, the NFL will only force a team to forfeit if the league can’t find a “suitable date” to reschedule the game…” And that the cancellation would only happen if the original postponement was caused by an outbreak among unvaccinated players.
This feels like pouring salt on the wound for Bears’ fans this season. The Bears are all-but eliminated from playoff contention, and now have to deal with a COVID outbreak while preparing for a rivalry game.
If and When the Game Is Played…
We should all be focused again on the play of Justin Fields. The Bears need to feel good about him as their franchise guy before the off-season. The Bears may just be a good off-season away from getting back to the playoffs, assuming they have their quarterback.
Fields had some nice moments against the Packers, but he completely telegraphed one of his interceptions in the first half last week and did not sense the pressure well on the fumble play. He had three turnovers in total, and you can’t win games like that.
Against the Vikings this week, Fields needs to prove that he has learned from those mistakes, or it will be a long game on whatever day it is played.
There is More to Football Than the Quarterback
To be fair, football is a team sport. We analyze the quarterback position ad nauseum because it is the most important, but it is not the only position.
To rebound from last week’s loss, the Bears need to run the ball way more often. David Montgomery ran only 10 times last week but gained 42 yards. That is not a bad yards per carry ratio. The Bears need to stick to the run, even if they are trailing. Their defense had no chance last week in the second half in part due to the Bears’ short-lived drives.
Obviously, with a good running game comes a good chance at a respectable passing game. The Vikings do not exactly have shut-down cornerbacks, so this is a defense that can be exploited through the air. They also struggle with mobile quarterbacks, so Fields should be able to scramble for some first downs in this one.
Teven Jenkins Gets a Chance At Redemption
Veteran LT Jason Peters left last week’s game and was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain. While he has not been placed on IR, he is not expected to play against the Vikings. Rookie Teven Jenkins is expected to get his second start for the Bears against the Vikings.
Jenkins did not have the dream debut that NFL rookies hope for. He committed four penalties and gave up seven pressures. Two of those became sacks. However, he was thrown into a very tough situation. The Packers have a very good defense, and Jenkins had just returned from injury. This will be a good test for the rookie’s mental resolve, and I think he responds with an improved performance.
With the COVID-19 issues mounting for the Bears, I am not expecting a win. I am, however, expecting the team to show some improvement from last week. They didn’t show up in the second half, and they need to play for their fans and for their future.
And who knows? Maybe they get the running game going, or maybe Justin Fields takes another step? They don’t have a great shot on paper, but the stats don’t always make an accurate prediction of a game played at Soldier Field in December.
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