Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was asked what stood out most to him on film when he looked at Marc Trestman’s new-look Bears. And it should be no surprise that he pointed out one of the most overhauled areas.
“It seems like their offensive line is much improved,” Frazier said during a conference call with Chicago media. “They did a good job of protecting the quarterback. They played together very well.
“Jay [Cutler] played with a lot of confidence in the pocket. Nice throws, and they worked a lot from the pocket early in that ballgame. But probably the offensive line play is what stood out to me.”
Cutler wasn’t sacked once by the Bengals’ formidable defensive front in Week 1. The Bears’ overhauled offense line of left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson, center Roberto Garza, right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills was impressive in its debut.
The Vikings, of course, want to change that. In their last meeting on Dec. 9, the Vikings sacked Cutler twice.
Defensive end Jared Allen didn’t record a sack against the Bears last season. But he’s the Bears’ top priority to stop up front, just like Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins was in Week 1. Bushrod will be matched up against Allen.
“The first thing we ask ourselves are, ‘Who are the difference makers on that side of the ball?’ And, ‘What do we have do to stop them?’” Trestman said. “It’s no secret. He’s one of them. Just like Geno Atkins was a difference maker for them last week. We’ve got to identify, on all three levels, who the difference makers are and make sure we try to inhibit their ability to take over the game. [Allen] is one of those guys that can still do that.”
Allen nearly broke the NFL sack record against the Bears in the 2011 season, recording 3.5 sacks on Jan. 1, 2012. But he won’t be lining up against offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb anymore. Webb is his teammate now.
“Just from watching film already, they’ve upgraded in some positions, absolutely,” Allen said. “I think Bushrod is definitely a good addition there. It’s hard to tell with young kids (Long and Mills] after one game.
“But I think the biggest thing is, they’re still doing a lot of max protection. You still see a lot of tight ends staying in, a lot of play-action routes off max-protect looks. That makes it difficult when you’re rushing four and they’re blocking seven. We’ll have to fight through it.”