EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings are prepping for an NFC North matchup against the Bears, who share a 6-7 record.
Chicago has played this season with two starting quarterbacks in Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky.
Minnesota won the Week 10 contest at Soldier Field against Foles but this weekend will face Trubisky, who helped the Bears snap a six-game losing streak with a win over Houston last week.
In seven games this season, Trubisky is 127-of-199 passing for 1,336 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions with a quarterback rating of 94.5.
"He's been making good throws," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer told Twin Cities media members on Wednesday. "Good decisions. Quite a few movement passes. I think they've been running the ball well, [which] helps, as well. [David] Montgomery had an 80-yarder against Houston and like a 40-yarder against Green Bay. So all of those things.
"He's getting the ball out quick on the RPOs (run-pass options), knowing where he wants to go, probably reading the coverage a little bit better," he added.
Zimmer later commented Chicago's offense overall under the direction of Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor, who's in his first year with the Bears and took over play-calling duties from Head Coach Matt Nagy in Week 10.
"I think they feel pretty good about what they're doing offensively right now," Zimmer said. "They're running the ball better. Trubisky's playing well. They've got good receivers. They're probably using [Darnell] Mooney a little bit more than they were. But Allen Robinson's a really good player, and they've got two tight ends who are really good players with [Jimmy] Graham and [Cole] Kmet, so I think they have settled in to what they want to do and what they want to be."
Here are four other topics Zimmer addressed during his session with media:
1. Da Bears defense
In addition to Chicago's talent offensively, the Bears especially have some standout defenders.
Rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson, drafted in the second round, is leading the team with 15 passes defensed, having started all 13 games opposite two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller. The Vikings are well-acquainted with fourth-year safety Eddie Jackson, who is still looking for his first interception of the season, and a defensive line powered by Akiem Hicks.
Linebackers Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan and 2018 first-round draft pick Roquan Smith all wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Smith's 122 tackles rank third in the league.
"Defensively, they've got probably the best talent in the league," Zimmer said. "They have Pro Bowlers at every level."
Chicago and Minnesota are currently tied for fourth-best in the NFL in red zone defense, having allowed opponents to score touchdowns on just 52.3-percent of trips inside the 20-yard line.
"We're going to have to play really well at home this week to win," Zimmer emphasized.
2. No room for error
When the Vikings slipped to 6-7 following a loss to the Bucs, they also slipped out of the NFC Wild Card spot – at least for the time being.
Minnesota has three games left on the regular-season slate (against Chicago, at New Orleans and at Detroit), and there's really no room for error in the final stretch if the Vikings hope to play in the postseason.
If there's one thing that the 2020 Vikings have proven, though, it's that they're a scrappy bunch that hasn't been willing yet to give up.
"We fight like crazy every week," Zimmer said. "We'll find out [Sunday if we've got what it takes to stay in the mix]."
3. Sticking with Bailey
The Vikings on Tuesday announced the release of kicker Tristan Vizcaino from the practice squad.
Veteran kicker Dan Bailey remains on the roster despite some questions about his status following a poor performance at Tampa Bay.
Zimmer stayed tight-lipped about the situation, offering only a "we'll see" when asked if Bailey will be Minnesota's kicker against Chicago Sunday and another "we'll see" regarding whether the team plans to add another kicker at some point.
Zimmer was asked his thoughts on staying with Bailey despite his struggles in the past two games.
"There's all kinds of guys making mistakes throughout the course of the game," Zimmer said. "But that's just part of life, part of momentum. There's ebbs and flows to every game."
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.
4. Status report on Kendricks & Rudolph
The Vikings were without tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (calf) against the Buccaneers, and it remains to be seen if either or both will be able to go this Sunday. Kendricks' injury has sidelined him for the past two games after he appeared the tweak it during warmups prior to the Minnesota-Jacksonville game.
Asked if the Vikings leading tackler will be back at practice this week, Zimmer said, "We'll see."
As for Rudolph, reporters were told "there's a chance" the veteran could be back in the mix.
If Rudolph is unable to play against the Bears, Minnesota will roll with Irv Smith, Jr., and Tyler Conklin, who last week had a career outing. The Vikings also have recent signee Hale Hentges, Smith’s former Alabama teammate, on the active roster.
"I like that group," Zimmer said of Minnesota's tight ends. "I think it's a good group."
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