As the Chicago Bears prepare to host their rival Minnesota Vikings Sunday, of course their number one priority is to stop the reigning MVP, running back Adrian Peterson. Last season, Peterson shredded the Bears’ defense for a pair of 100-yard performances, totaling 262 yards in their two matchups.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman believes he knows why Peterson had the historical year in 2012 that he did.
“Every time he touches the ball it looks like he feels like it may be the last time he ever touches a football again,” said Trestman according to the team website. “He was already a great player, and then you come off the kind of injury he did, you have a lot of time to think.”
“It’s obvious by the way he plays [that] he’s had a lot of time to think. He knew the player he wanted to come back and be. He’ll be all we can handle. The guys here know that. They’ve played against him enough to know that. It should make for a heck of a football game.”
This veteran-filled defense knows their divisional foe very well. Peterson has had some fantastic games against this group over the years, and regardless of the Vikings’ record coming into the game or the projected outcome of their season, Peterson seems to play his hardest against Chicago.
In his 10 games against the Bears, Peterson has averaged 108.5 yards per game with 14 total touchdowns.
“I think he’s in a league of his own,” Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said. “He was definitely the MVP for a reason last year. I think our defense will have our hands full, but he’s a guy that makes you play team football. You can’t just have one guy tackle him.”
Defensive end Corey Wootton may be a bit newer to the Bears’ rotation, but he knows how to defend Peterson. “The biggest thing is just playing disciplined, gap-to-gap football,” he said. “That’s what we have to do to stop him, and rally to the ball because he’s a powerful guy, shifty as well. He’s a combination of everything, so you have to population tackle him.”
“It’s a huge challenge. Every time he gets the ball he can go the distance,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. In his first year with the Bears, Tucker knows that his guys have been there and done that as far as stopping Peterson goes. He says it is just a matter of not leaving it up to one guy to stop him. He doesn’t want Peterson to be tackled by just one guy, but the whole team.
Peterson is truly in a league of his own, and if the Bears want to win on Sunday, like Tucker said, the defense has to be in the right spots each and every play. Every defender must man his gap and get to number 28 in a hurry when he touches the ball. Gang tackling has always been the mentality of this veteran squad, and they know they’ll need every man on deck to try stopping the man known as “All Day”
If Chicago wins, they will send the Vikings to an 0-2 record overall, and divisionally, which would be huge for the Bears’ future this season. Beginning 2-0 in the division would mean everything to the Bears, as a loss to the Vikings last year was the difference in them missing the postseason.
Will the Bears be able to stop Peterson and the Vikings in Week 2? Get your Bears tickets and come out to Soldier Field this Sunday to cheer your team on to a 2-0 start in 2013.