Chicago Sun-Times

Closing the gap on the Vikings

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As the Bears aim to return to the postseason, they've got to somehow keep pace with the two-time defending NFC champion Minnesota Vikings.

And I'm hearing Vikings ownership isn't going to let off the gas.

Although they've already committed $85 million to 2010 in base salaries alone, the Vikings are expected to continue to be aggressive in their effort to win their first Super Bowl.

Because they reached the NFC Championship, the Vikings cannot sign an unrestricted free agent until they lose one. But that should happen quickly as running back Chester Taylor is expected to sign elsewhere rather quickly.

Regardless, the Vikings inclination may be to look at restricted free agents.

In addition to Brett Favre, the Vikings have several other key 30-something starters, like defensive tackle Pat Williams, cornerback Antoine Winfield and linebacker Ben Leber.

While the Vikings got plenty of help from draft picks like Percy Harvin and Phil Loadholt in 2009, they may be inclined to bolster their lineup via restricted free agency, flush with talented and experienced players.

Besides, with one of the last picks in each round (30th in the first), the Vikings aren't losing a whole lot by parting with, say, a second-rounder, which, in essence, becomes a third.

The most obvious needs appear to be safety, cornerback and guard. Maybe even a center.

The Bears, 7-9 last season, are expected to take the opposite approach, looking to bolster their roster with at least one major unrestricted free agent.

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We have an awfully long way to go to keep pace with the Vikes. We need to fix the running game with better play from the RB and the OL, which means at least 2 new players in that group. Taylor would be nice, but likely we will miss on him while we pursue Peppers and a FS (hopefully Atogwe).

On defense, we need better play out of all 4 spots on the DL, and 3 out of the 4 secondary spots. Bowman did ok, but we need him to take a big step forward, and we have nothing at safety as far as coverage, which is where we need to improve facing Favre, Rice, Berrian, Shiancoe, and Harvin.

If I were the Vikes, I would run at Kampmann first, and then if that doesn't work, go after Dunta Robinson. If they lose Taylor, they can sign one of them. After that, I would be very liberal with my draft picks and restricted free agents. Kirk Morrison can be had for a 3rd. That is an upgrade to a big question mark in EJ Henderson, who is coming off a nasty broken leg. If they don't get Kampmann, I would start looking at hybrid guys who are restricted, and see if one of them can be a situational rusher to replace Edwards on 3rd down. If he wasn't at the second round level, Mark Anderson would be perfect for them. They have maybe 1 year left with Favre, so they need to run for the SB this year.

Bottom line is, I don't think we can keep pace. We can hope to steal one in Soldier Field in 2010, but likely we will be looking up at the at the end of the season as they roll to the playoffs.

Peppers would close the gap on the Vikings, who knows with Peppers the Bears may even win the division. They would go up in sacks to mid 40's maybe 50 and would be a top 10 defense.

The offense well should be able to play with any of these teams.

Win the division sounds good to me, with Favre retiring in another 10 years the Bears would be a lock for the division after that.

Vikings need more than a Center, Corner and Safety. Herrera sucks and is probably a bigger need than Center. Then you have Pat Williams who either wants more money or wants to retire. Tehy loose Williams and that is not a very good defense anymore. Hutchinson is also 32 and his play fell off last year.

If the Vikes want a Center they will either have to make a trade or draft one, the only free agent on the market worth a damn is Kevin Mawae and he is 39, still it would be intresting put a 40 year old QB with a 40 year old center. Over the hill gang part duo. Walton out of Baylor in the second round would also be a good pick.

Like the Bears they need help in the secondary, Rod Hood would be a solid number 2 corner for the Queens, after that they should look at Ryan Clark.

DT is a big need, they need depth and Brian Price would be a smart first round pick.

Guard is a need and Mitch Petrus in the third round would make sense.

The Vikings can easily address their needs with draft picks and two or three FA who will not break the bank. I don't see a lot of teams parting ways with good offensive linemen RFA's

Richard Marshall is a great value with a second round tender placed on him.

Aubrayo Franklin is a FA and would be a good pickup for the vikings.

Either way they have a lot more options tha the Bears.

1 Player like Peppers is not going to make a huge difference, He was on Carolina last year, and they didn't, make the playoff's. They had the third best rushing attack in the nfl, and they have Steve Smith and a very good offensive line. They also had a top 10 defense. Yet no playoffs. They need a real QB in the worst way though.

The Bears have a better QB than the panthers, but thats about it.

Plain and simple Taylor is a fantastic back. But with the othe options out there bring back Thomas Jones. Keep Olsen. Make Manumaleuna a full back.

You're worried about the Vikings? You should be worried about the Packers who swept the Bears. The Bears don't have an OL. The NFL has become a passing league. If you can't pass you simply won't win. The Bears can't pass behind that OL. The Packers defense seems to have Cutler's number. The Vikings won't repeat what they did last year. Favre will be 41 and I don't think he can match the best statistical season he has ever had. The Vikings missed the 2nd fewest starts among all NFL teams. They also only played one truly cold weather game the entire season. That was at Soldier Field in December, which they lost. Don't worry about the Vikings, the Packers will take the NFC North next year. Until the Bears improve their run defense, secondary, and OL they won't be able to hang with the explosive offenses of the NFC. The Saints, Cowboys, and Packers.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on March 4, 2010 12:12 PM.

Scout breaks down available defensive ends was the previous entry in this blog.

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