The Minnesota Vikings found themselves playing a Week 18 game against an opponent that had no desire to be on the field. That was probably true in most 2022 games for the Chicago Bears, but it couldn’t have been more obvious in their final game. With Minnesota handling business, is there really anything to take away from the contest?
For five weeks in the latter half of this season, Ed Donatell’s defense allowed opposing offenses to rack up 400 yards with ease. It sank them to the doldrums of NFL defensive rankings, and it had an already questionable unit look like a laughing stock. There was never a point at which Minnesota could view their defense as a calling card this season, but the hope was always for better.
Can Vikings Learn Anything from Their Defense at Chicago?
After getting embarrassed at Lambeau Field during a Week 17 drubbing from Green Bay, Minnesota pounced on the hapless Bears to right the ship. Chicago was in play for the number one overall pick and landed it thanks to the Houston Texans ineptitude. Justin Fields was not under center, and the Chicago defense was basically whoever was left over from the infirmary.
Donatell’s group did as they should against Nathan Peterman and Tim Boyle. Patrick Peterson picked off an arm punt while Duke Shelley netted his first career interception. Patrick Jones got home for the lone Minnesota sack of the day and added a pair of tackles for loss as well. It was a very workman-like performance, but that’s precisely what should have been expected.
Now, facing the New York Giants for the second time in three weeks, Minnesota will need to switch gears. Although Brian Daboll’s team is not a juggernaut with the ball, Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley are quite a bit more talented than anything the Bears showed on Sunday. The Vikings were nearly 100 yards to the negative behind New York the last time the two teams squared off. They allowed 445 total yards in that contest, and 319 came through the air.
Facing backups that likely were already focused on their offseason plans, Minnesota didn’t see much of a test against the Bears. Kevin O’Connell played a host of his starters, but they were also mainly going through the motions of staying ready for a much more meaningful game at U.S. Bank Stadium. While it is definitely a positive that the Vikings handled business and grabbed a divisional road win, little from the Bears tape should help them on Sunday.
If anything, Donatell and his group should be preaching consistency in the form of momentum. Peterson ended his regular season on a good note, even if it wasn’t worthy of a Pro Bowl vote. Shelley capped off his nice run with an interception, and the secondary performed well enough to win without having star safety Harrison Smith on the back half of it.
Maybe there wasn’t much reason to play the starters against a Bears team that was ready to roll over. Maybe there isn’t going to be anything that the Vikings can extrapolate from a schematic standpoint to their tilt against the Giants. They put up numbers in the box score.
This season, the Vikings offense has rarely been a question, but it will again be how the defense stands up.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.