Bears News: Eberflus on scouting the Vikings, Moore's offensive POTW Award

Bears News: Eberflus on scouting the Vikings, Moore's offensive POTW Award

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - The Bears are getting prepared for their second division game of the season, and everything seems to be in their favor right now. Cornerbacks Kyler Gordon and Jaylon Johnson look like they may be able to come back, in addition to safety Eddie Jackson.

For the Minnesota Vikings, they have placed their top receiver, Justin Jefferson, on injured reserve, and their rookie receiver Jordan Addison popped up on the injury report. Without having to defend a receiver like Jefferson, and possibly not Addison either, head coach Matt Eberflus said he has a bit more flexibility in the defensive play calling.

“You certainly adjust your scheme to a great player like (Justin Jefferson). But, there’s a handful of guys in the league that you would do that for,” Eberflus said. “So, (with Jefferson out) it allows you to play more basic, more solid on both sides as opposed to tilting your coverage one way or the other.”

Even without those two, Minnesota does have playmakers, primarily tight end TJ Hockenson, who they acquired mid-season in a trade with the Detroit Lions last season. Hockenson will most likely be the primary target with Jefferson out, and if Addison is unable to play, he seems poised to get even more of the target share.

“(Hockenson)’s very good at getting open. So, he uses his body to get open a lot of times, but he also has really good stem at the top of his routes to be able to work away from man, work into the open zones,” Eberflus said. “He’s really good at that, and he’s really good (at) yards after (the) catch. He’s a heck of an athlete.”

While the injury reports for each team seems to be in favor of the Bears defensively, they still are the worst passing defense in the NFL, allowing a league-high of 286 passing yards per game. They have also allowed the second-most passing touchdowns (12) out of any team in the league. So, if the Bears are going to have a chance of winning this game, they need to do well on offense. Eberflus stated that the team has improved in the past two weeks. So, it seems like they will continue to improve.

“I thought we improved over the last two weeks. You could see that in the detail and the fundamentals, and that’s improving, and you saw that on Thursday night. So, that’s where we’re at. So, I think we did a good job of that,” Eberflus said. “I think we did a good job of holding together through adversity during that time, which is going to make us stronger in the long run. I do believe that, and the coaches did a good job of solving problems.”

Thursday night against the Washington Commanders was by far the best performance out of the offense this season, capped off by wide receiver DJ Moore, who had 230 receiving yards and three touchdowns, earning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor.

“It’s exciting to have a player win that award and well deserved. But again, it comes down to the whole football team. The whole offensive squad did a nice job of executing,” Eberflus said. “He doesn’t get those yards, and those things, all those yards, without protection, and the offensive line did a fabulous job … It’s a whole group effort, and it’s a whole group award … Congratulations to him.”

Still, quarterback Justin Fields needs more than one wide receiver to throw to. In fact, in that game, Moore was the only receiver to catch a pass as the other two receivers were tight ends Cole Kmet and Robert Tonyan. This has prompted some questions about receiver Darnell Mooney.

As a rookie, Mooney was the top receiver on the team. In his second season, he had 1,055 receiving yards. However, he has not had a season like that since. He tore his ACL in 2022, the last season, he was the starting receiver. In the No. 2 role, he has not made much of an impact. But, that is something that Eberflus intends to change going forward.

“We certainly want to highlight Mooney, and we’re going to continue to do that,” Eberflus said. “We’re going to continue to take shots to him and he’s a big part of our package, and we’re excited where he is.”

The key for Chicago will be to continue to be aggressive. According to Fields, that is not something the Bears have done particularly well in the second half, and that is their biggest point of emphasis continuing with the season.

“Me personally, I think I have to do better in the second half with staying locked in and keeping all the guys locked in and putting up the same amount of points as you do in the first half,” Fields said. “So, I think that’s our next step as an offense is just keeping our foot on the gas and not letting up and keeping putting up points.”

Minnesota is a completely different team from last season. This is not the team that is going to have eight comebacks and 13 wins despite having a negative point differential. They are struggling, and thus, it is certainly a winnable game for Chicago and a good test of their aggressive nature and any improvements that could come on defense.

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