Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract in the offseason to come back to play for a 10th and final season — he’s been around for 11, but he missed his entire 2006 rookie season after tearing an ACL in the preseason — and help the team try to make a playoff run.
Greenway knew his role would be more limited with several young, talented linebackers on this team, and his tackle numbers are down this season. But Greenway continues to be one of the smartest players in the NFL and make a large contribution. He has four tackles in the past two games.
He was asked how hard it is to bounce back from a disappointing loss like the Vikings’ 21-10 defeat at Philadelphia last Sunday and take on the Bears in Chicago on “Monday Night Football.”
“In this situation, you’re as good as your leadership,” Greenway said. “I think with Coach [Mike] Zimmer and his mentality, the leadership we have on this football team, I think we’re going to bounce back well. We typically respond well to adversity.
“We know we had a rough week last week in Philadelphia, and we think we can improve on that this week. Going into Soldier Field has been tough on this football team over the last 10 years, but we had a good win [23-20 in Chicago] last year and hopefully we can exorcise those demons and come back on Halloween and get a win.”
Greenway has worked under Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier and Zimmer, so he’s experienced several head coaches. He wasn’t surprised at Zimmer’s anger after the loss to the Eagles.
“He’s so passionate about the game because he cares about it,” Greenway said. “He wants us to play well, and he knows what we’re capable of doing. When we don’t show up and play that way, it’s frustrating for him, frustrating for us, and just as players, we take ownership in that. He’s holding himself accountable, and we need to hold ourselves equally accountable.”
Even though the Vikings committed four turnovers and seven penalties for 56 yards, Greenway said it was not among the worst games he’s seen as a Vikings player.
“No, there’s been games we played worse,” he said. “Defensively we gave up 15 points, they got 21 on the board. The turnovers hurt us on offense, we weren’t able to score in the red zone, which was tough. Defensively we gave up a couple drives, but really they didn’t get much other than that. Special teams, we played well other than returns. There’s plays there. We’ve definitely played worse in this organization over the last 11 years, there’s no question about that.”
Did he feel the team overlooked the Eagles, after Philadelphia lost two in a row coming into the game?
“No we didn’t overlook them,” Greenway said. “I think it’s just a matter of they played better than we did in that situation.”
Trouble in Chicago?
The Vikings are 2-8 in Chicago during Greenway’s career in Minnesota, and he was asked what he expects from the Bears on Monday.
“The Bears have a lot of talent,” he said. “They have a ton of receiver talent. With [Jay] Cutler throwing the ball, they’re capable of anything. He’s capable of making every throw and obviously he has great arm talent and ability. He’s seen every look in the NFL because he’s played so long. He’s a great player, and it’s going to be a challenge at their place.”
Is there any chance the Vikings overlook them, because of their 1-6 overall record and being one of the worst teams in the league?
“No, we won’t overlook them,” he said. “Not with the mentality we have this week and the approach Coach is taking. There’s no way we overlook this team.”
Giving off the field
Greenway was asked about upcoming events for his charitable organization, Chad Greenway’s Lead The Way Foundation.
“We have a bunch of different charity deals we’re down for the fall, but we have another locker program coming up we’re unveiling this fall,” he said. Chad’s Locker program donates toys and play rooms to children’s hospitals. “We’re [also] cutting the tape on the Ronald McDonald House playground we built on the U campus. We’re going to unveil that this month.”
This is a different kind of season for Greenway, but there’s no question his influence on the field and in the locker room will be as important as ever if the Vikings are going to make a deep push toward the playoffs.
Mason likes Gophers
Former Gophers football coach Glen Mason has been paying close attention to the Big Ten in his commentator role with the Big Ten Network. He was asked to break down Illinois (2-5 overall, 1-3 Big Ten), the Gophers’ opponent Saturday in Champaign, and said if the Gophers (5-2, 2-2) play their game and limit their turnovers, they will win.
“[The Illini] have a good quarterback in Wes Lunt, but he has been really banged up,” Mason said. “I think if he isn’t playing full-tilt, they’ll really struggle offensively. Defensively they’ve had a lot of problems. I’ll say this about Lovie Smith and [defensive coordinator] Hardy Nickerson, the old pro linebacker, and [Smith’s] coaching staff: When I went in and sat down with them, I was really impressed with these guys. I think they’ll get Illinois going in the right direction.
“But right now they’re really struggling. You do not put quality into a program overnight, and it will be a while until they get back to shipshape.”
• Zimmer disputes that the Bears will be poor competition despite their 1-6 record. “I don’t think they are bad, honestly,” he said. “What I do think is they have moved the ball offensively but they haven’t scored many touchdowns. They have had the lead in three of the six losses in the fourth quarter and didn’t finish the game. Like a lot of young teams and programs, I think they are trying to figure out how to finish games.”
• The Gophers men’s hockey attendance continues to suffer with the loss of some traditional WCHA rivals when the Gophers joined the Big Ten for hockey in 2013-14. Non-student season tickets sold this year were 6,039, compared to 7,080 last year.
• Patrick Mahomes II, son of former Twins pitcher Pat Mahomes, gave up a promising future in baseball to concentrate on football. Now he’s setting all kinds of records as a quarterback for Texas Tech and is a cinch to be a top NFL draft choice. In seven games Mahomes has thrown for 3,313 yards — the best in the FBS by about 100 yards per game — 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions. In Saturday’s 66-59 loss to Oklahoma he completed 52 of 88 passes for 734 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org