The Marc Trestman era in Chicago began with a win for the Bears against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener. Now, Trestman is set for his first NFC North opponent to visit Soldier Field. The Bears welcome the Minnesota Vikings to the Lake Front on Sunday in a divisional battle.
The Vikings were defeated by the Detroit Lions in their season opener and are facing a 0-2 start that would put them behind the eight ball in the division. The Bears are trying to go 2-0 for the fist time since 2010 and put some early distance between themselves and the Vikings.
Stopping Adrian Peterson is obviously a no-brainer if the Bears want to win, but here are three other keys to a Chicago Bears victory on Sunday:
1. Defensive line pressure
Against the Bengals there was absolutely no pass rush generated by the Bears. Andy Dalton had all day to throw and his receivers were getting open. AJ Green torched the Bears for 162 yards and two touchdowns. If not for a couple of excellent plays by Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings the Bengals could have very easily won. Julius Peppers had one of his worst games as a Bear last week and will no doubt want to bounce back and make an impact. The Bears must be able to generate pressure by only rushing four and allowing their linebackers to key on Peterson.
2. Continue to spread the ball around
Jay Cutler did a great job of targeting players other than Brandon Marshall in Week 1. Marshall, of course, led the Bears with eight catches on 10 targets, but Cutler did a nice job involving the rest of his weapons. Alshon Jeffrey was targeted eight times and Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett were each targeted six times. Cutler completed 21 of 33 passes for 242 yards. He must continue to get everyone involved because they can make plays, but also because it will open things up for Marshall late in the game. When Cutler is locked in on Marshall the opponent can key on that and give help over the top. When Cutler is involving the rest of his receivers and running backs teams will have to worry about them as well and it will leave Marshall with one-on-one opportunities.
3. Keep Cutler clean
Against the Bengals Cutler was not sacked. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to Bears fans it is a huge change from before. Cutler has been one of the most sacked quarterbacks during his time in Chicago and for him to not be sacked for an entire game is a huge plus for this offense. The offensive line did a pretty good job keeping Cutler clean, but Cutler also deserves a lot of credit. He was seeing the pass rush and was able to shuffle his feet and move around the pocket to avoid being sacked. One of the most overlooked aspects of Cutler’s game is his feet. He does a great job of moving his feet in the pocket to avoid defenders and deliver a throw. The Vikings present a very good pass rush and keeping Cutler upright will go a long way in the offense progressing in this game.
With Peterson the Vikings should be able to keep this one close early on, but with the balanced attack of the Bears they should win this one going away.