So the Bears may have fixed a lot of their issues last night with some well-timed lineup changes and an adjustment of their protection schemes on offense. The result was a 39-10 destruction of the Vikings, a team that I actually had convinced myself to fear last week due to their solid pass rush and the always-correct transitive property of football, which stipulated that Jahvid Best's 155 yard night last week surely would result in at least 384 yards for Adrian Peterson. Then again, the Vikings may have just been a lot worse than we thought, and the Bears are still heavily mired in the thick of the NFC. So we'll see. Whatever its implications for the future, that game was still fun as hell to watch. On with the breakdown:
-Devin Hester: He's always killed them on returns, but for whatever reason the Minnesota Vikings are also the one team that's been consistently victimized by Devin Hester the receiver. For his career, Devin has 370 yards receiving and 5 receiving TDs against the Vikings, far more than he has in either category against any other team. Last night he managed to destroy double coverage on the deep bomb we've been waiting for from him and Jay for about three years. He finished with 5 receptions for 91 yards (18.2 YPC) and 1 TD, and had one drop on a pass that would have given him his second career 100 yard game. He also added his 16th career return TD on a 98 yard kickoff return, his fourth career return TD against Minnesota. friend of mine postulated that Devin's family may have been attacked at some point by Nordic tribesmen, filling him with a never-ending lust for vengeance. I don't know. He was awesome last night, and I hope he can find a way to start exploiting other teams in a similar fashion.
-Jay Cutler: Mike Martz went old school last night and decided to build the entire game plan around protection Jay. What a novel concept. The run game clicked early and the play-action pass proved devastatingly effective, and Jay finished with his most efficient and effective game of the year so far, as he finished 21 of 31 (67.7%) for 267 yds (8.6 YPA), 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. His first touchdown pass to Hester, which came with only 2 receivers on the pattern and EIGHT men in to block, gave us yet another glimpse of what Jay can do if he just has time to fire the ball deep, and it was beautiful. Hopefully we see more of this going forward.
-Matt Forte: Al Michaels made a snide remark during the game about all of the Pay Forte signs in the crowd, saying "its easy for fans to spend someone else's money." Fuck off, Al. Its easy for anyone with a fucking brain to see how important Matt Forte is to the success of this team and how royally screwed they'd be without him. Matt chipped in another stellar game with 17 rushes for 87 yards (5.1 YPC, he's averaging 5.3 YPC on the season) and 6 catches for 36 yards. Pay the man, Jerry.
-Stephen Paea: Paea spent the first five games inactive on the bench. I don't know if he needed that time to get acclimated to the pro game or not, but his first game seems to indicate it was a mistake. I was beyond excited about the kid when the Bears drafted him, as he was a holy terror at Oregon State and he set a combine record in the bench press. He's got a strong first punch and could potentially take over for Anthony Adams and upgrade this team at the nose tackle. Last night he showed that potential with 2 tackles, a safety, and some stout run defense. I can't get too excited, but at the very least it was a smart move to get the kid some reps now. You drafted him to be a difference maker, so give him a chance.
-Julius Peppers: Played on a bum knee and wound up with two sacks. I'd really like to find those sonsofbitches who said he "took plays off" when he came to Chicago and see what they think of him now.
-The Rest of the Defense: It helps that Minnesota is shitty, so all of this comes with a huge asterisk until proven otherwise, but the Bears defense did exactly what they were supposed to all year long: they stopped the run, limited McNabb and Ponder to the meaningless dink and dunk crap, and then they racked up 5 sacks. Conte and Major Wright played fairly well, as far as I could tell, in that they were everywhere they were supposed to be all night and limited anything that got past the second level to a moderate gain. That's a vast improvement over the last few weeks. Again, hopefully this can continue against teams that aren't quite so shitty.
-The Offensive Line: Jesus Christ, I can only imagine how things might have turned out differently in Detroit had they gone in with this lineup (WHY IN GOD'S NAME DID YOU PUT OMIYALE BACK IN AFTER YOU BENCHED HIM AGAINST CAROLINA? WHY) and this gameplan. They neutralized Jared Allen and Brian Robison for most of the game, limited the damage to one sack, gave Jay time to throw, and cleared holes for Forte. Please don't let this be yet another momentarily epiphany by the coaching staff that disappears the second they think they can outsmart someone.
-Nothing really that I could see. All three phases played well. Just hope it wasn't too late, and that it's more than a mirage.