Chicago Bears vs Vikings: Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace’s jobs on the line

Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Bears, Dalvin Cook
Chicago Bears – Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears must continue to stop Dalvin Cook

On the other side of the ball, the urgency to stop Dalvin Cook is greater than normal again because of the injuries to the Bears secondary. No NFL team has done a better job stopping Dalvin Cook than the Chicago Bears. This should give them the confidence and knowledge to get this done once again.

The best news for this is that Akiem Hicks is not on the Bears injury report. Dalvin Cook was stopped cold by the Bears in their last game until Hicks hurt his groin hustling to get to Kirk Cousins. The bad news is Khalil Mack is on the injury list with a bum shoulder. Presumably, as long as Mack can run he will play, and even if he is not 100% he will still help contain Dalvin Cook.

If the Bears can control the Vikings’ run game then they can put some real pressure on Kirk Cousins. Of course, anytime a defense can pressure Kirk Cousins good things usually happen for them. Once Ryan Pace rebuilt the Bears defense into a top unit, they have a track record of when they make a team one-dimensional by stopping the run, they will dominate an offense.

With a weakened secondary, no one is looking for them to dominate the Vikings. Given that Trubisky and the Bears’ offense have played well of late, if the Bears defense plays a solid bend but don’t break game, this should be enough for the Chicago Bears to win this game.

The Bears rarely do this but given their current cornerback dilemma, they might try an old Bill Belichick trick. That is to put two defenders on the opposing team’s best wideout and then put your best cornerback on the other wideout.

Kindle Vildor has similar speed to Justin Jefferson. So with another defender double-teaming the dynamic Vikings’ receiver, this should work in containing him. Even though the Vikings have two excellent receivers, it is probably best for Kyle Fuller to go one-on-one with the wily Adam Thielen.

As the Bears defensive coordinator, I do not believe Chuck Pagano has ever tried this maneuver. However, given the injuries and the importance of this game he might take a shot with this at times to see how it plays out.

Chuck Pagano’s most important decision/commitment to make this game is to get pressure on Kirk Cousins — anyway anyhow. If he has to blitz so be it. The last thing the Bears defense can afford to do is give Cousins time in the pocket to pick apart the inexperienced guys that will probably be playing in the Bears secondary.