After that first Minnesota score, many Bears fans were probably anticipating the start of another blowout by a Bears opponent. Given last week's result against the 49ers,that did seem to be a reasonable possibility. However, both the Bears offense and the defense hung on, made some good plays, and almost won the game. To accomplish that in a stadium as difficult as the Metrodome is an indication that some good things were happening.
As always, I am somewhat critical of the offensive play calling. It seems to me that much more yardage can be made when you go around the line, not try to break through it. The ‘63 Bears had just about every running play go to the outside. If we called something to go through the middle, it was a quarterback sneak.
You look for a weak part of the defense, then you head for that. If your center is covered, go to the guard. If the guard is covered, go to the tackle. When there's any kind of a hole in the defensive line, that's where you want your ball carrier to be. Those holes tend to close up pretty quickly. That's why you move up and down the offensive line to find the best possible spot to make the play.
I thought that Anthony Thomas looked pretty good. When went to the outside in one series, he made a significant run. He seemed to be reading the field well and making good cuts around the Vikings line and their secondary.
Kordell had some good long throws and a number of shorter passes. White and Terrell caught well in important plays. The Bears still were unable to get much offensively. They had a total of 80 rushing yards to the Vikings 202. Passing, the Bears had 128 to Minnesota's 198. The Bears offense had the ball for 21:18 while the Vikings had the ball for 38:42. That shows that there still isn't enough balance. The offense needs to be on the field more and the defense needs more time to rest.
What I noticed about the Minnesota offense is that they had a great deal of patience. The Bears were able to handle Randy Moss pretty well. They had more of a problem with Moe Williams. While the Bears were able to prevent most of the long passes that would have gone to Moss, a series of short passes that resulted in significant gains. Minnesota won on their short game.
Culpepper is a very mobile and an accurate quarterback. He can be dangerous. His size enables him to see things down the field that smaller quarterbacks might overlook. He is protected by a big strong lie that gives him time to make decisions.
I noticed that the Bears safeties were way down the field on most of the plays, anticipating the long pass. As the game progressed and it became clear what strategy the Vikings were using it would have been better for them to have been closer to the line to stop the short yardage situations.
Kordell Stewart has had two rough games. He's been harassed a lot by the opposing defense. He was sacked five times against San Francisco. Sunday night, he was again hit pretty hard, going down several times. Near the end of the game, he was knocked to the ground and hit his shoulder when he fell on his own player. It's very difficult to run a game when you are always scrambling to avoid the blitz. That aspect of the Bears offensive game needs to improve. Stewart requires more protection from his linemen and more time to make his decisions.
The Packers are up next, and they are playing well. They looked strong in yesterday's game. I didn't see any kind of a letdown after they lost to the Vikings at Lambeau the week before. However, I still think that the Bears can beat them.
I understand that the Bears are going to be down at Soldier Field several times for practice before opening day on September 29. I'm not sure how much difference it will make, but this is probably a good thing. It's always wise to have your players get the feel of a new setting. That's how you build a home field advantage.
There will be many factors involved in the outcome of the upcoming Packers game. First, the Bears don't have a very good record playing in Monday night games. That of course is a disadvantage. They will finally be playing at home after being on the road for the past year. That's a positive.
What I feel will make the difference in the game will be the emotion. This will be a very significant night for the Bears. No team wants to lose the opener at home. Add to that the fact that this is a big event for the city of Chicago.
It's the first time the team will be playing in new Soldier Field. The fans supporting the Bears will be excited and they will be loud.
The Bears can't afford to make any mistakes on either side of the ball. There can't be five interceptions as was the case in San Francisco. The time that offense and defense are on the field needs to be equalized. Overall, the Bears are a good team. They have tremendous potential. I think that the Packers game might well be the start of good things for Chicago.
Beth Gorr contributed to this story.