Vikings defensive end Brian Robison believes the team deserved a lot of the harsh words coach Mike Zimmer delivered about its performance last week, and he said the team is ready to turn the page Monday night in Chicago.
“That’s the way it should be. Any time you go out and lose a game and you’ve done things that kind of shoot yourself in the foot, whether it be stupid penalties, turnovers, whatever it is, he should rip us,” Robison said. “At the end of the day, we have to come out here and we have to practice hard and make sure we bring our lunch pail to work and have that blue-collar mentality we’ve had all along.”
The Vikings fell 21-10 at Philadelphia last week and now face a Bears team that has won eight of the past 10 meetings between the teams at Soldier Field. But Robison believes that the Vikings have the right mind-set heading into a big divisional matchup.
“Everybody is going to think it’s the end of the world because we lost one game,” he said. “But we don’t really care what people are saying about us, you know, we’re going to go business as usual. We’re going to practice hard and do everything we need to do to put ourselves in a successful position on Monday.”
Robison also said he believes the defense, which began Week 7 first in the NFL in yards against per game with 279.5 and points against per game at 14.0, really didn’t have a bad effort against the Eagles.
“I felt like we pretty much shut down their offense, for the most part,” he said. “We created turnovers, but at the end of the day we didn’t make enough plays to win the game. It’s the NFL, sometimes that’s going to happen.”
Tough place to play
The Vikings got a huge victory in Chicago last year, winning 23-20 on a Blair Walsh 36-yard field goal as time expired to put their record to 5-2 on the season. But before that, the Vikings had lost their previous seven trips to the Windy City.
“It’s a very hostile environment, you have to take their crowd out of it early,” Robison said, also acknowledging that Monday night’s game falls on Halloween. “But at the end of the day we’ve obviously had our struggles there over the last 10 years or so, so we have to make sure we’re on our P’s and Q’s and go in there and try to bounce back.”
While the Bears have a miserable record at 1-6, their offense does have firepower. They entered the week ranked 16th in the NFL in total offense, but that has been mostly without quarterback Jay Cutler, who is expected to start Monday. Robison was asked what the defense is paying closest attention to.
“We have to be good against their run game,” he said. “They have some backs that can hit the gaps. They do a lot of good things up front with their offensive line, as well. When you look at a lot of their run game clips, you don’t understand how they haven’t won more games.
“… And then obviously they’re probably going to get Cutler back this week, so we have to be smart in the ways we rush them and not allow him to throw those deep balls.”
Cutler is one of the bigger unknowns as he is coming off a thumb injury. He is 8-5 all-time vs. the Vikings with a 91.8 quarterback rating and 26 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions.
“Obviously he’s a guy that can make some deep throws,” Robison said. “We have to rush him very smart, because he is athletic enough to get outside of the pocket and make some first downs with his legs.
“He’s one of those guys that you have to be very smart in the way you play him. We have to get back there and get some hits on him. Once again it starts with stopping the run game upfront.”
With longtime star Matt Forte now with the Jets, the Bears have been using three running backs in Jordan Howard, Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey.
“They’re good,” Robison said. “They do a lot of good things in the run game. They create some gaps for those backs back there. They move very well. So it will be a good test for us this week.”
Any chance that the Vikings could overlook a team that seems to be having a lost season? “We ain’t overlooking nothing,” Robison said. “Our minds are totally focused on the Bears this week.”
Smith on bowl
Running back Rodney Smith had another great day in the Gophers’ efficient 40-17 victory at Illinois on Saturday.
He had his third consecutive 100-yard rushing day and added two touchdowns. And more importantly, the Gophers became bowl-eligible.
“Guys like David Cobb and Damien [Wilson], they changed the culture here,” Smith told the Big Ten Network after the game. “We’re just trying to keep it rolling. Winning games is expected here now. Raising the bar each year and getting to a bowl game and winning a bowl game is always the goal.”
Smith’s backfield teammate Shannon Brooks was asked by BTN what he has seen from the offense, which has looked improved.
“Just play hard, we know we have a great team if we all come together and do our job,” Brooks said. “If we come out here and play physical, I feel like we can always do good things on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Our mentality really is just to run hard and play hard, like we always do.”
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on whether or not he expects a bounce-back game from his team: “Every team is different,” he said Saturday. “In the games that you play after you lose a game are different, the teams you play. But, we’ve had a good week of practice, so we’ll see.” In the Bears’ favor is the fact that the Vikings will have more starters missing in this game than at any time since Zimmer was hired.
• The Bears are very banged up as well, but cornerback Tracy Porter is expected to play. Porter is the only defensive back in Chicago’s top-five rotation that has more than two years of experience, according to the Chicago Tribune.
• With the Packers loss at Atlanta on Sunday, the Vikings could have a two-game lead in the division by beating the Bears. The only NFL team with a two-game lead in its division is the Patriots in the AFC East.
• The Bears will need Cutler to limit turnovers if they’re going to have any chance Monday. Cutler had three turnovers in the first seven quarters of the season. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains told the Chicago Tribune the team isn’t harping Cutler. “When you tell a guy who is about to go sink a putt, ‘Hey, don’t leave it short,’ what’s he going to do? He’s going to leave it short. We talk about making sure that we’re good with our eyes, making sure we keep two hands on the ball in the pocket and work those drills.”
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