Quick throws spell trouble for Vikings' front seven
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford orchestrated a bevy of three-to-five-step dropbacks and often released the ball in three seconds for 469 yards and a 10-point win over the Minnesota Vikings.
After struggling heavily against those looks, the Vikings will likely see a similar scheme to slow their intense pass rush when traveling to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
"That's the idea," Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler said on a conference call. "If the ball is out of my hands, they can't tackle me."
A winless record at Soldier Field since 2007, the Vikings look to avoid an 0-2 hole that has historically kept most teams out of the playoffs.
Since 1990, only 22 of the 190 teams (12 percent) to go 0-2 have made the playoffs the same year.
"We haven't won [in Chicago] since I've been here," defensive end Jared Allen said. "It's becoming annoying. We did some things to shoot ourselves in the foot last week, we're coming in playing a team that is known for running the ball better than what Detroit did."
The Lions' dual-threat running backs exposed the Vikings front seven by giving Stafford a quick release, often by design through screens that linebackers Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway failed to read on numerous occasions.
Running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell registered 117 rushing yards, not counting the combined nine catches for 168 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Bush that originated near the line of scrimmage as Greenway was on the wrong side of a lineman.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said facing Cutler won't be too different in terms of timing.
"He gets rid of the ball, whether it be the ones down the field or the quick rhythm, three-step plays," Williams said. "He does an unbelievable job of getting the ball out of his hands. When you're close and even when you have a hand on him, he's Houdini."
The Bears boast running back Matt Forte, who carried the ball 19 times despite averaging 2.6 yards per carry in their win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Forte added four receptions for 41 yards in new Bears' coach Marc Trestman's retooled offensive scheme.
"[The Bears] do a lot of max protection, a lot of play action stuff," Allen said. "Again, I swear it's the same every week, you have to be good on first and second down. If you're good on first and second down, you will have opportunities to get to the quarterback."
The Vikings surrendered 28 first downs on 77 plays (36 percent) to the Lions in the season opener.
"If you aren't good on first and second down," Allen said. "It's going to be a long game and you're going to have to get lucky."