Vikes look to be biggest test for Bears' D
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It's not a stretch to say the Minnesota Vikings will present the toughest challenge to date for the Chicago Bears defense.
Despite a disappointing and drama filled 3-5 record, the Vikings have plenty of firepower on offense --quarterback Brett Favre, running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe -- but have been unable to protect the football and are currently minus-nine in turnover ratio.
This promises to be a good matchup for a Bears unit that ranks No. 4 in points allowed, No. 8 in total defense and No. 3 in rushing defense.
"As a group, collectively, they are playing outstanding," Favre said Wednesday during a conference call with Chicago media members. "They are creating turnovers, playing well against the run. Obviously, you can't sit back there and hold the ball a long time even in there four-man rush, because of the addition of No. 90 [Julius Peppers]. I don't want to slight the other guys, they are all playing extremely well. For me, in recent memory, this collectively is as good as they've been playing.
"Same scheme. That's the thing we try to get across to people, but in their mind it's a simple scheme, and it's taken them awhile to get it to where they disguise it the way they want. [But] they get the checks in and out. [Brian Urlacher is obviously the leader from that standpoint, getting everybody lined up, so they are very good at their scheme. You kind of have to beat them at their own game, which is easier said than done. But no doubt, No. 90 has made a huge difference."
One weapon no longer at Favre's disposal is running back Chester Taylor, who signed a four-year contract with the Bears in the offseason after spending the previous four seasons in Minneapolis.
"I'm not going to sit here and say [losing Taylor] hasn't had an impact," Favre said. "We all know it's had an impact. I thought, and I still say this, Chester was very underused last year. It was my first year here, but I thought his ability to play a wide out position, run screens from a halfback position, just his overall feel for the game and blocking responsibilities were as good as any of the guys I've ever played with at that position. He's kind of a tweener if you ask me. I just thought we could've had more packages and used him in so many different ways.
"No doubt, we realize how much of an impact he did have for us."
Favre also sees certain similarities between himself and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. The two talked briefly on the field after the Bears beat Minnesota 36-30 in overtime at the end of the 2009 season, a game where Cutler threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns.
"I guess you kind of get to the riverboat gambler mentality," Favre said. "I think when you have a big arm you feel like you can throw it through any coverage, at any time, and sometimes you do. I see that in him. You kind of take the good with the bad and you know what you're getting. I think he's a heck of a competitor and he's tough.
"Like I told him after those guys beat us last year, I thought he played outstanding. That should hush people up for awhile. He's got that mentality, where, 'Hey, I don't care what just happened, I'm focusing on the next play, the next throw, the next game.'