Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson shake hands after their NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. The Bears won 28-10. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
If there were one prevailing emotion among Chicago Bears fans who watched as Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson ran roughshod over the NFL last season, it was probably this: fear.
That's because the NFL rarely sees running backs that are capable of dominating the game in so many ways. Whether it's bowling guys over with his size or outracing defenders at the edges and gaining chunks of yardage outside the tackles, Peterson is capable of turning the ball upfield at
For the Bears, the question of how to stop Peterson has been on the lips of everyone at their facility in Lake Forest, as well as the minds of Bears fans calling in to local radio shows. Will the Bears stack the box with eight defenders and dare Christian Ponder to beat them with his arm? Will
they call on Charles Tillman to try to punch the ball out of Peterson's arms when he carries it around the edge?
The answers to those questions won't be known until the ball is kicked off on Sunday, but there are a few things that the Bears will certainly be working on, most notably their tackling.
In his remarks to the press on Wednesday, head coach Marc Trestman said that the team would "focus on doing what we need to do this week and that's tackle better." The Cincinnati Bengals were the beneficiaries of some poor tackling by Bears defenders, especially in the first half of the Week 1 matchup.
The other thing that the Bears must do is to get more pressure going up the middle. Stephen Paea did a good job of getting some push through the Bengals' line on Sunday, but Henry Melton looked like he was being overmatched on nearly every snap. It didn't help that Julius Peppers wasn't doing much off the end, but the fact remains that if the Bears are going to stop Peterson, then they are going to have to absolutely do a better job of staying in gaps and preventing Peterson from getting the space to do what he needs to do.
It would also help the Bears' defense if the offense could get going sooner in Week 2. In their Week 1 victory over the Bengals, the Bears couldn't seem to sustain a drive in the first half, and as a result Cincinnati kept the Bears' defense on the field and wore them down. If the Vikings are able to do the same thing, then Peterson is going to eventually take advantage of the ensuing coverage breakdowns, and that is not something that the Bears can allow to happen.
All of these strategies and tactics will work if they are executed properly, but the fact remains that Peterson is an elite back in this league for a reason, and he is going to make some plays. The trick will be to limit those chances that the Bears can, and the rest should take care of itself.