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Vikings Defense Wary of Trubisky's Mobility, Bears Pre-Snap Shifting

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings defense isn't expecting a ton of deep throws from Mitchell Trubisky on Sunday.

The Bears quarterback is averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt in the first three games of 2019, a stat that has Trubisky ranked 34th out of 35 possible quarterbacks.

According to pass charts on Next Gen Stats, Trubisky has also completed nine of 31 passes on attempts 10 yards or longer. He has a touchdown and two interceptions on such throws.

Trubisky's game-by-game breakdown is below:

Week 1 vs. Green Bay (5-for-18 with an INT)

Week 2 at Denver (1-for-8 with an INT)

Week 3 at Washington (3-for-5 with a TD)

"Trubisky is getting the ball out of his hands quick, shorter-yardage [throws]," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen. "We've got to get him in longer situations."

But one area the Vikings will keep their eye on with Trubisky is his ability to scramble, whether that's throwing on the run or moving the chains himself with his feet.

Through three games, Trubisky has just five carries for 21 yards. When Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked whether Trubisky appears to be running less this season, Zimmer cautioned against that notion.

"Not usually against us," said a smiling Zimmer, who has seen Trubisky run 17 times for 83 yards in four career games against the Vikings.

Perhaps the most notable of those performances was in Week 11 at Soldier Field in 2018, when Trubisky had seven rushes for 40 yards, four of which moved the chains for the Bears. (Trubisky was credited with 10 rushing attempts in the game but had three kneel downs).

"He's like another running back," Griffen said. "If he feels the pressure, he can escape through the A gap, the B gap.

"We've got to do a good job containing him," Griffen added. "Just containing him and getting around him and sacking him and not letting him escape the pocket."

As far as Trubisky's passing ability, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft is coming off his best game of the season in Monday night's win over Washington. He completed 25 of 31 passes for 231 yards with three touchdowns, his first three scores of the season. He also had an interception as his passer rating was 116.5.

"He played good Monday night. He's very talented. He runs the football well," Zimmer said. "I think he sees things really well.

"You look at some of the thumbs up he's doing where he gets the coverage he likes or the defense that he likes or gets out of it," Zimmer added. "I think he's doing well."

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards added: "He really did a great job last week of identifying what they were trying to do coverage wise, putting the ball where it needed to be with the matchups that they were able to create. In the past you looked at him, he's got a good pocket presence where he's able to throw, he's able to run. Pull it down and run it after he recognizes what is going on. We've got our work cut out for us. We've got to do a good job with our rush plan, we've got to do a good job with our coverage down the field on the outside receivers and on the combinations that they're running inside."

While the Vikings will be focused on Trubisky's ability to run or pass each time he has the ball, the Vikings defense will also try not to get distracted by the frequent pre-snap movements Bears Head Coach (and offensive play caller) Matt Nagy likes to throw at opponents.

That could mean motions from any skill player on the field, plus numerous play-action fakes that lead to quick passes for the third-year quarterback.

"Offensively, they give you a lot of fits with a lot of the things they do," Zimmer said. "Try to misguide your eyes, so we're going to have to play really, really well on the road to beat them.

Edwards talked Thursday about eye discipline and not getting caught up in the frenzy that is happening on the other side of the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.

"That's a very important part, and that's one thing that we're stressing to our players," Edwards said. "There's a lot of motion, a lot of shifts, a lot of rockets, a lot of go's, so those things try to really preoccupy the eyes pre-snap.

"That's been something that's been a league trend over the last couple of years, and we've done our due diligence to work on what we need to get done in those situations in the offseason, carrying over to the preseason and in the first couple of ball games," Edwards added. "We've definitely got to carry that to the game and be disciplined with our eyes and our assignments and our alignments."

Trubisky has completed 67 of 103 passes (65 percent) for 579 yards with three touchdowns and two picks so far in 2019.

Winning over everything

Through three games, the Vikings have attempted runs on 61.3 of their offensive plays, a stat that leads the NFL by a wide margin. (The 49ers are the next team on the list, as San Francisco has rushed on 56.7 percent of its offensive plays.)

As a result, Minnesota's 63 pass attempts rank dead last in the league, as wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have 17 combined receptions for 274 yards and two touchdowns.

Thielen met with the Twin Cities media on Thursday for his weekly podium session and was asked about the reduced number of targets for Minnesota's wide receivers group.

"That can be tough as a receiver, as a competitor, but at the same time, I know [Diggs] wants to win. Everybody on this team wants to win, and whatever that takes, we're going to do," Thielen said. "Yeah, it would be great to get more opportunities and to try to help this offense move the ball and ultimately help this team win, but when we don't need to, that's great for us.

"When Dalvin is running the ball and our offensive line is blocking the way that they're doing, and we're able to win games, let's keep going to what works and what helps us win," Thielen added.

In 2018, the duo became the first pair of Vikings wide receivers to each have 1,000 receiving yards in the same season since Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter in 2000.

View practice photos from Sept. 26 as the Vikings get ready for the Bears in a road matchup at Soldier Field.

Welcome back, Marcus

Marcus Sherels is back in Purple, as the Vikings brought back the punt returner (and fan favorite) earlier in the week.

Sherels is Minnesota's all-time leader in punt returns (231), punt return yards (2,447) and punt return touchdowns (five).

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf is in his first season in Minnesota, but the coach said he's glad to have Sherels to help out on special teams.

"When I was at other teams, we tried actually to sign him, and he ended up staying here at home," Maalouf said. "It's actually good to get him back here.

"He does have a good, proven track record as a returner, as a core guy, and it's good to have him," Maalouf added. "He's really good for the room, a lot of the guys like him. He's a great professional."

Sherels originally signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in March of 2010 after participating in rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.