Jay Cutler and Percy Harvin May Miss Sunday's Bears-Vikings Game
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: November 23, 2012
After Jason Campbell's less-than-stellar debut as a Chicago starting quarterback, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice was asked whether regular starter Jay Cutler, sidelined Monday after a Week 10 concussion, would return this week against Minnesota. He responded, diplomatically, by saying "oh God, I hope so". As if immediately realizing his error (and any unfavorable media repercussions that were likely to follow), Tice adjusted his approach, explaining "Not anything against Jason. Jason did a remarkable job based on the opportunities he was afforded. (But) we have to get our guy back." The Bears are unquestionably a better offense with Cutler on the field, but belief that his presence would have helped Chicago even begin to compete with San Francisco Monday night is sorely misguided. A missing quarterback is the easiest issue to address or assign blame after an embarrassing loss, but the 49ers complete domination on either side of the ball had very little to do with which quarterback was under center.
The Bears have been buttering their bread with a stingy, ball-hungry defense all season. That defense was facing a young quarterback in his first-ever NFL start and failed to add to its seven scores on the season. In fact, San Francisco backup Colin Kaepernick played so well against one of the elite defenses in the League, he may have usurped starter Alex Smith's role. So yes, if Chicago wants to win, it would be helpful to see Jay Cutler take the field Sunday. Its offensive line, which served as mere turnstiles to a powerful 49ers defensive front Monday night will need to make adjustments. The offense will want to avoid second- and third-and-longs. But the defense really needs to get back to its earlier, Titans-smacking form if it wants a divisional win against Minnesota.
Second year Vikings quarterback Chrisitan Ponder could be an ideal target for Chicago's defense; he's had eight interceptions and three lost fumbles in comparison to his twelve touchdown throws, while throwing for under 100 yards two times on the season. He could potentially be without one of his favorite targets, the recipient of 30% of his completions, in Percy Harvin. Harvin missed a Week 10 win against Detroit while nursing an injured ankle. He had a Week 11 bye to rehab further, but has been unable to practice this week leading up to the Chicago trip. But fortunately for Minnesota, though the loss of Harvin may have an impact on offensive production, its most impressive weapon, running back Adrian Peterson, is the picture of health and all-around awesomeness. Not only is Peterson leading the league in rushing with 1128 yards (Houston's Arian Foster trails by 64 yards after 11 games to Peterson's 10), he's also on track for the most receptions in his career, averaging nearly three a game. No defense has been able to contain him through ten weeks and he shows no signs of slowing.
A real wildcard in this matchup is Minnesota's pass rush. As noted above, Chicago's offensive line was awfully welcoming in Week 11, allowing Campbell to be sacked six times. Since contending for the sack title with 22 last season, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has been awfully quiet in 2012. He has seven sacks to date, but has yet to post a true breakout game. Given the condition of last week's offensive line, could Soldier Field be the place to do it? If Minnesota wants to find itself tied with Chicago in NFC North standings, it will probably have to be.
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @KimOHaraTFG
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