Six-foot-5, 311-pound Kevin Williams had four sacks last week against the Lions, even though the three-time Pro Bowler is considered a better run defender. Six-foot-3 Pat Williams, who is listed at 317 pounds, about 50 pounds short of reality, played nine years in the league before earning back-to-back Pro Bowl berths the past two seasons.
In the past five games, the Vikings have allowed an average of 60.6 rushing yards and an average gain of 2.6 yards per rush. In Week 2, the Colts ran 19 times for 25 yards against Minnesota. The next week, the Panthers rushed 20 times for 47 yards. In Week 4, the undefeated Titans tried to run 34 times and netted 76 yards. A week later, the Saints picked up 55 yards on 22 attempts.
Kevin and Pat Williams, who aren't related, are the keys to forcing opponents to abandon the run.
"They're big and they're athletic," Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "They're physical. They play hard. They're instinctive. They're great football players, they really are. Both of them are outstanding, and we ‘get' to go against them twice a year."
None of the teams the Vikings have played this season rank as high statistically as the Bears when it comes to running the ball, and rookie Matt Forte is fifth in the NFL with 459 rushing yards. Coach Lovie Smith loves to say his is a running team, but it's rare that any team beats Minnesota on the ground. The Vikes are No. 4 in run defense this year and have allowed just two 100-yard rushers in their last 38 games.
Orton is well aware that the Bears may have to throw to set up the run rather than the other way around, which is their preferred method of attack.
"We'll try to take advantage of whatever looks they're giving us," Orton said. "If they want us to throw the ball, then we'll try to do that effectively as well."
Turner has gained more confidence in Orton's ability to move the offense through the air in each week. The three most productive passing days of his four-year career have all come in the past four weeks, and Turner believes he's got a quarterback who can step up if the run game is shut down.
"You have to have that in this league every game," Turner said. "You've got to be able to mix it up. If they want to stop the run, you've got to be able to throw it, and to have a quarterback that's playing with confidence that the guys believe in is huge."
Still, Turner's not quite ready to call the Bears a passing team.
"Lovie wouldn't like it if I said that," a smiling Turner said. "We want to run the ball, and that's where it all starts, and we're going to continue to run the ball. But you can't win without scoring points, and it's tough to score points if you're not throwing the ball and making plays in the passing game. It's really difficult in this league to put together 70-, 80-yard drives without big plays, and those big plays usually come in the pass game."