If it wasn’t for those damn Vikings, the Bears would have been in the playoffs last year. Actually, if it wasn’t for the Bears losing a few key games, including the one against the Vikings, then the Bears would have made the playoffs. It was a blessing in disguise if you ask me. It was time to see Lovie go and I give kudos to the Vikings for doing what they did last year. They played old fashioned black and blue football and did what nobody expected them to do. At least I didn’t expect them to make it to the playoffs.
The Bears and Vikings will be going head to head in Weeks 2 and 12 this upcoming season. To preview the season match up, I contacted Dan Zinski at The Viking Age and asked him 5 questions in this weeks edition of… wait for it… 5 Questions.
1. As a Bears fan, I know I won’t miss Percy Harvin being on the Vikings. How do Vikings fans feel about the trade of Harvin to the Seahawks?
People seem pretty split. A lot of fans have bought into the idea that Harvin was a bad apple and had to be gotten rid of for the good of the team. And of course it helps that Rick Spielman was able to make a pretty good trade, getting back plenty of draft compensation. The Vikings turned around and got Cordarrelle Patterson and most fans are happy about that. Then there are those fans who think Harvin was a unique talent and the offense won’t be the same without him. Overall I don’t sense a ton of anger. I personally will miss watching him play every week. He was a fun player to witness. But I think the team can move on without him.
2. What did you like and/or dislike about what the Vikings did in free agency and the draft?
Well I liked Spielman’s aggressive move to trade up into the first and take Patterson. I’ve been sold on Patterson’s talent and think he could be a great player. I think it was risky to give up so many picks but you have to take risks in building a roster. You can’t always play it safe. It was a gamble but I think it was a good gamble. I’m also pretty enthusiastic about their other two first round selections, Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes. Both look like pretty good players. I also am down with the Greg Jennings signing. They had to bring in a veteran to lead the receiver corps and Jennings seems like a good fit scheme-wise and personality-wise. He will help Christian Ponder. Negatives, there were quite a few actually. The way Spielman fumbled the handling of the Antoine Winfield situation, making Winfield angry and sending him packing to Seattle. That was a major gaffe. Also not addressing middle linebacker. I think that will come back to bite them in the butt. They should have dipped into free agency, not necessarily for a big name, but just for another option. I thought former Bears linebacker Nick Roach might be a good fit but obviously he went to Oakland. So they will go with Erin Henderson in the middle. I am not sold on Henderson. I think they will regret not addressing that need.
3. Will Christian Ponder have a break out season this year?
I hope Ponder has a break out season this year. I’m just not convinced he has that in him. I think he is limited physically and in terms of his quarterbacking instincts. I think he lacks an innate sense of the game. Everything has to be coached into him. He’s sort of a robot back there. And his arm strength is still a major concern. The Vikings made no effort to add a vertical threat receiver – Jennings and Patterson are not downfield targets – and I think that’s a reflection of their concerns about Ponder. They don’t think Ponder has enough of an arm to really go deep so why bother having a deep receiver? I’m not really looking for a big break out for Ponder. I would be happy if he cuts down on the big mistakes and just gets more consistently accurate. He’s never going to be a big-time QB, that’s just reality. But if he can be competent, there’s enough around him to make it work. He also needs to become more of a true leader in the locker room. He seems to shy away from taking on a leadership role and that’s not good for a QB. The QB always has to be one of the leaders.
4. What is the Vikings most favorable and unfavorable matchup against the Bears?
Gosh it’s kind of hard to say this far out from the season. I don’t even know how the rosters are going to shape up. I really haven’t looked at the Bears enough. One thing I hope is that the Vikes will be better equipped this year to deal with a guy like Brandon Marshall. He is a beast. The Vikes hope to become more physical in coverage, with Chris Cook and Xavier Rhodes on the outside. They want to get away from the zones and play more press man. Maybe that will help them contain Marshall. I am curious to see how the Bears’ defense comes together this year with Urlacher gone and Lovie Smith gone and whatever system changes they undertake. It’s kind of hard to know right now how all that will shake out.
5. What is your prediction for the game, including a final score?
I’ll take the Spurs in game 1, 89-80.
Bonus Question 1: How does it feel to have cheerleaders?
Is it okay for me to admit I pay no attention to cheerleaders? Do I lose man cred? I’m sure they’re nice people.
Bonus Question 2: Who would win in a 1 on 1 basketball game, Staley Da Bear or Ragnar the Viking?
Is Staley a real bear? In that case I think Ragnar might be in trouble. The bear will just eat him. If Staley is a fake bear, I don’t know. I’ve never seen Ragnar hoop. I’m thinking his hops ain’t so mad.
Be sure to check out The Viking Age to find out more about the Chicago Bears weeks 2 and 12 opponent.