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Vikings offensive line 'soft?' Alex Boone says 'we've got to play better'

Coach Mike Zimmer pulled no punches Sunday after the 21-10 loss to the Eagles. In fact, he verbally socked his Vikings offensive linemen in the gut when he said they were "soft" and got "whipped" and "overpowered."

A little bit ago, left guard Alex Boone, who was signed in March to be the tone-setter up front, was asked about what his head coach had to say.

"We've got to play better. That's the bottom line," Boone said.

But he called you guys “soft.” Did you agree with that assessment?

"I feel like we've got to play better. I think when you get your quarterback hit that many times it's a problem. So we've got to play better."

Boone acknowledged that constant injuries on the offensive line and the lack of continuity that has resulted has affected that unit's chemistry.

"We have all offseason to get guys to work together and then all of the sudden guys go down and new guys come in," he said. "It's just one of those things where you don't have a lot of time, really, to mess around. You've got to get together and make sure you are on the same page."

The Vikings two weeks ago signed offensive tackle Jake Long, who vowed today to be better after getting beat for a pair of strip-sacks against the Eagles. But Joe Thomas or Joe Staley isn't squeezing through that door. Any improvement along the offensive line will have to come from within.

"I think it's just playing better with what you have," Boone said. "I mean, what are you going to do? There's not much you can do. It's not like you're not going to go down to Carl's Jr. and find somebody."

Cutler's solid home record vs. Vikings can't cover up Bears problems

Should the Vikings want to face Jay Cutler?

The short answer is yes. The Vikings defense, which allowed 13 points in the season’s first loss at Philadelphia, has proven a difficult matchup for the NFL’s best quarterbacks. And Cutler, despite boasting a 6-1 record and average passer rating of 98.3 at Soldier Field against the Vikings, will have a tough time reviving these ailing Bears (1-6).

Cutler was not playing well for the Bears in an 0-2 start prior to injuring his right thumb. He’s expected to return on Monday night against a team he has enjoyed many big days against, even since Mike Zimmer came to Minnesota. Of his seven home starts against the Vikings, four times Cutler threw three touchdowns, most recently in 2014.

Last season, the Vikings finally ended a seven-game losing streak in Chicago, needing a 13-point fourth quarter with a last-second field goal to secure the win. There’s something about the Vikings playing there, including in playoff years of 2009 and 2012, that makes it routinely difficult.

Cutler’s receivers just might be it. In the Vikings’ win at Soldier Field last season, Alshon Jeffery caught 10 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. The year prior, Jeffery and Brandon Marshall combined for three touchdown grabs.

The Bears haven’t been the same through the air, save for the Cutler-to-Jeffery connection, though even Jeffery has yet to score a touchdown. Through seven weeks, Chicago is the NFL’s worst scoring offense (15.9 points per game) after seeing the departure of tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte this offseason.

This time, the Vikings bring a scoring defense (14 points per game) that’s tied for the league’s best with the Seahawks. And they’ve got a thing about shutting down opposing receivers. No receiver has yet to top 76 yards against the Vikings, which Titans rookie Tajae Sharpe tallied in the opener.

So this is one when the past should easily be swept under the rug.

7:30 PM, 10/31 (ESPN)
Minnesota 5-1
Chicago 1-6

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