As it ever was, the Minnesota Vikings played a sloppy game in Chicago. For the second year in a row, they won the Soldier Field slopfest. It’s easy to discard an ugly win. After all, what did the Vikings prove? That they could stumble past an impressively inept opponent, ravaged by COVID-19 positives? But there are reasons that the Vikings won the game. Even against a bad team, you still have to take care of business.
With clear heads and sober minds, perhaps we can investigate just what the Vikings did to control the entire game and go home with a Monday Night win.
The Vikings Made Justin Fields Suffer
Games against Justin Fields will always be a little charged with irony. Since the Vikings declined to trade up for Fields, there’s a bit of a what-could-have-been lining up across from them. The Vikings did plenty to vindicate their decision, albeit in Fields’ broken rookie year.
The Bears have a significant problem setting their protections. This has plagued them all year, so a matchup against the league’s best pressure designer in Mike Zimmer was always going to be a mismatch. The Vikings did well to generate unblocked pressure and ruin Fields’ process.
Unfortunately for Fields, he has fallen into the dreaded “panic pit” this season. That’s the pit that rookies fall into when the team around them fails so hard, the only plays that work are the improvisational scrambles. That teaches the wrong lesson: to bail on pockets and drop your eyes to make something happen.
Later in Fields’ career, he’ll have to unlearn that habit for his true talent to take over. The Vikings exploited that. Fields scrambled out on a 4th and 1, hesitated, and could not convert. He scrambled backward 20 yards on a 2nd and 10 for a hideous sack. He fumbled twice in pressure situations, losing one.
Fields did his best to make anything happen amidst a sea of ineptitude. He probably tried too hard and did more harm than good. It’s hard to blame him considering the circumstances, but it’s easy to credit the Vikings for generating those circumstances. As sloppy as everything was on offense, the defense took a bad team to the cleaners. There’s not much more we can expect than a three-point performance until the irrelevant final moments.
The Vikings have struck gold with the heavy package
Blake Brandel, a self-proclaimed tight end in disguise, is a key cog in what turned out to be Minnesota’s best offensive package on Monday night. The “heavy” package refers to a personnel package with six offensive linemen, with Brandel making the sixth.
The Vikings ran two successful plays that took them into the red zone on their second possession out of …….