The Minnesota Vikings entered the bye week holding an unwanted 1-5 record. Wins against both division rivals Detroit and Green Bay have the Vikings are back on track. Head coach Mike Zimmer and company have gotten their swagger back entering Monday nights clash with the Chicago Bears. If Minnesota are victorious, they re-enter the playoff picture, but a loss leaves them out of the race. So, how do Minnesota pick up the win Monday?
To begin 2020 the Minnesota Viking’s signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a two-year extension. However, to begin the season the veteran has not impressed. Ten interceptions through eight games has led Cousins to be unreliable on the occasion. Also, Cousins has never won a game on Monday, so the odds are stacked when they face Chicago.
Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will have to use his wide range of plays to tactically overcome this feared Chicago defence. Firstly, the Vikings should alter Cousins play style and turn him in to a game manager. Cousins has flourished in play-action offense and the use of screens which will be crucial on Monday. The threat of the run will be Chicago’s number one priority against the Viking’s. This should prove dividends for Minnesota as it provides Cousins time in the pocket to be the precise quarterback he is known to be.
Dalvin Cook has been integral to Minnesota’s midseason turnaround and is the key to beating the Bears on Monday night. ‘The Chef’ enters this clash fresh off his first ever 200-yard game against Detroit and Minnesota must capitalise on Cook’s hot streak. The key to victory for Minnesota with Dalvin Cook is utilising the outside zone running scheme which has troubled the Bears in the past.
Though, Chicago are a good run defence ranking 13th in average rushing yards allowed during the 2020 season. Last week this defence stifled elite running back Derrick Henry to only 68 yards of offence on 21 carries. If Minnesota chip away at Chicago’s defence and repeatedly trust the running game, it could be the catalyst for a playoff rebirth.
The Offensive Line
Chicago’s key to success is the teams’ defence. Chicago ranks in the top ten overall defences in the NFL currently and will be the biggest problem for the Viking’s in primetime. Each player across the defensive line can cause Minnesota problems but the standout is Khalil Mack. In the 3-4 defensive scheme the linebacker Mack has already registered 6.5 sacks on the season. Partnered with Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn the Viking’s offensive line will have to be at their best.
Although, since the bye week the Viking’s offensive line has impressed after a poor start. The addition of Ezra Cleveland at right guard has revitalised Minnesota’s trenches and could be enough to neutralise Chicago’s pass rush. In addition, the Viking’s could add a blocking tight end to help the offensive line or apply a double team to prevent Khalil Mack from becoming a factor in the game. Finally, when running the play-action passes Cousins should wheel away to the opposing side to give themselves the best chance of prospering in this matchup.