Minnesota Vikings: Five things we learned in the win over the Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: Kyle Rudolph
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: Kyle Rudolph /
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CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 09: Everson Griffen
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 09: Everson Griffen /

3. The defense took a step in the right direction, but have to iron out a couple of things.

Unlike last week, the Vikings defense made plays to win the game. Everson Griffen’s strip sack was a huge play that set up a field goal, giving Minnesota a 3-2 halftime lead. While Harrison Smith closed out the game by intercepting a ball with a little over two minutes to play. The result, another Forbath field goal giving the team a 20-17 victory.

Basically, the Vikings took advantage of a Bears offense headed by rookie Mitch Trubisky, coming away with a couple of turnovers. This was definitely a positive sign coming off a game where they missed multiple turnover opportunities against the Lions.

Related Story: Five things we learned about the Vikings against the Lions!

Even so, they have a couple of things to work on.

First, there were a couple of defensive holding and illegal contact calls helping the Bears sustain drives. Additionally, Everson Griffen jumped offsides on a third down play in the fourth quarter. The result gave Chicago a first down on a drive that ended with a game-tying touchdown. Facing a mediocre offense, the Vikings got away with their mistakes for the most part. Yet, they need to be addressed moving forward.

Second, a couple of turnover opportunities were left on the field, making the game closer than it actually was. The most important one being on the Bears’ final touchdown where Andrew Sendejo failed to pick off a pass in the end zone. Instead, the ball bounced off his hands right into Bears tight end Zach Miller for the touchdown.

Another missed turnover opportunity was on special teams. The Bears faked a punt resulting in a 38-yard touchdown pass. But, key defensive players screwed up on the play with Danielle Hunter easing up on the Chicago punter making the pass, while Marcus Sherels and Griffen missed easy tackles of Benny Cunningham who scampered into the end zone. If they make plays there, the result is either a turnover on downs or a first down. Not a touchdown.

In the end, the Vikings defense made more plays than they missed. Yet, they may want to clean up their play with Aaron Rodgers coming to town.

4. Anthony Barr is on his way to earning the Vikings next big contract extension. 

It’s no secret that Barr struggled last season after being one of the team’s top defenders in his first two seasons. Coming into 2017, he had to get back on track, especially in a contract year.

So far, the Vikings former first round pick hasn’t disappointed. Through five games, he has 30 tackles, putting him on pace for a career-high 96. Although he hasn’t forced turnovers or sacks, Barr’s presence has been felt, especially in the run game.

In fact, Barr has four stuffs, otherwise known as tackles for a loss, accounting for 14 stuff yards. This is especially impressive given his career-high is five stuffs in a season. Additionally, his 14 stuff yards are already a career-high and he’s likely to go over 20, his career total heading into the year. Basically, he’s been a menace in the backfield of opposing offenses.

Against the Bears, Barr’s best play was a stuff of running back Tarik Cohen. Blitzing from the edge, Barr flew into the backfield, almost stopping Cohen as soon as he was handed the ball. A pulling Dion Simms got just enough of Barr to prevent him from getting the Bears running back, although Cohen was forced inside. The Vikings linebacker didn’t give up on the play though, tackling Cohen from behind for a 4-yard loss. A beautiful play worth taking a look at.

For someone whose effort was put into question in 2016, this play should answer any questions.

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Just as important, Barr has been reliable in passing situations with two passes defended. Also, he and Eric Kendricks have held the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Theo Riddick, Charles Sims and Cohen to a combined seven catches for 15 yards over the past four games. An impressive feat to say the least.

Essentially, Vikings fans should feel great about the production they are seeing from their Pro Bowl linebacker. They’ll need him to keep it going the rest of the way, especially against a Packers team featuring a couple of dual-threat backs in Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones.

If he does so, he’ll see a huge pay day after the season, stabilizing an important position on the Vikings defense for years to come.