The Chicago Bears’ offense doesn’t have much bite. They currently rank 29th in points per game and 23rd in total yards. But Chicago’s lone offensive success story this year, an overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, included 222 yards rushing.
Overall the Bears rank seventh in yards per carry, but the Minnesota Vikings are currently tied for the third best defense against the run, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry.
Defensive coordinator George Edwards said the team’s run stuffing has started in the middle with Pro Bowl nose tackle Linval Joseph.
“Linval is definitely a true pro inside and has been a big cog for us inside,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “To single-block him is kind of tough… He does a good job even though the double teams with his contact balance. Just his awareness of block awareness inside of what people are trying to do to us. I think the linebackers would say it’s been a big plus playing behind him that a lot of times he is able to hold those and doesn’t give ground and can reestablish the line of scrimmage on their side of the ball.”
The league’s best nose tackles take up two defenders, control the line of scrimmage, but Joseph adds an additional element of playmaking that many over-the-center D-linemen do not have.
He’s accumulated 17 total tackles (15 solo), and 13 of which have resulted in a ‘win’ for the defense, also known as a stop. His ridiculous 18.3 stop percentage is also the highest among all interior defenders.
Against the Detroit Lions, Joseph picked up nine tackles, including one where he tracked down a running back on a screen pass.
“It’s a testament to him and his ability…no matter where the ball is, you’ll see him come out of the stack running to go get the football,” Edwards said.
The Vikings’ star NT will match up against a strong interior offensive line. Bears center Cody Whitehair had a terrific rookie season in 2016 and Kyle Long and Josh Sitton are proven veterans. On PFF’s 1-100 grading scale, Sitton has scored 85 or higher for seven straight years.
“They do a very nice job of getting to the second level. [Kyle] Long is back in there now. Their center and the backside there, number 71 [Josh Sitton], they do a great job of not only attacking and doubling off a three or a two [technique], and then be able to chip up and get to the second level.”