Commentary

Bears must run to buy time for Cutler

Originally Published: December 18, 2010
By Ron Jaworski | ESPN.com

"Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski breaks down the matchup between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings:

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBefore the New England game, the Bears were running the ball enough to ease the pressure on Jay Cutler.
The key unit in this game is the Chicago offense. They are running the ball often enough to give the illusion of a running game, which is giving QB Jay Cutler a little more time in the pocket. In the five games before the New England game last week, the Bears were averaging about 33 rushes a game. They won those games, and it calmed down the blitz pressure that Cutler was seeing regularly. They are not a particularly good running team but they have done enough to keep defenses honest.

Not on Monday but for the rest of the season, the key will be Cutler's ability to make three or four plays per game. He has a great arm and can make all the throws. So if he stays away from making bad throws or decisions, he can get the job done. But the Bears really need him to make plays. They are far from a good offense, but Cutler has mostly gotten the job done. They are, clearly, a team that relies on its defense.

The Bears defense is very good and can usually provide what the team needs. Their front seven is very good, and they play a strong version of the Cover 2. They did not play well against New England, but I credit the Patriots for finding good matchups and stretching out that Cover 2. The Bears do struggle in the secondary, which is why they need so much help over the top from the safeties.

I am not really sure who will play quarterback for the Vikings this weekend. Brett Favre is hurt and Tarvaris Jackson is on IR. They signed Patrick Ramsey, and they have Joe Webb. So you have to figure that the plan will be "Let's give it to Adrian Peterson 30 times!" And whoever does play quarterback will see more blitzes than Chicago usually runs because it will be either a rusty or inexperienced player behind center for Minnesota. The Vikings' line troubles will also be exposed. Peterson has had to break two or three tackles to get to the line of scrimmage this season, and the porous protection is the reason Favre and Jackson are out.

For some reason, the Vikings never clicked this season. It has snowballed since Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice got hurt in August. They have really lacked energy and passion. I can't find it on the tape, anyway. They just haven't been able to get out of their own way.

Still, it's a great rivalry and the Vikings will not lie down. Peterson is an intense competitor and will bring all he has. And the Vikings defense, particularly the linebackers, has a chance to keep them in it for 60 minutes. Should be a good one.

Ron Jaworski

NFL analyst / writer
Ron Jaworski is one of the most popular and knowledgeable analysts covering the NFL today. Since joining ESPN in 1990, the former standout NFL quarterback has covered the league from virtually every angle -- sideline reporter, game-site reporter, host and both studio and game analyst. From 2007-11, Jaworski occupied one of the most coveted positions in sports as a Monday Night Football analyst.