You would think that 12th pick in the NFL draft would be the guy you would want to focus on in a week leading up to a divisional game against a team that made the playoffs over you last year based on a tie breaker, especially when that player plays the quarterback position. Couple that with a running back taken seventh overall, and you would imagine a dynamic duo essentially almost unstoppable with the right players plugged in around them.
The running back is indeed and powerful force that very few teams have figured out how to stop. Adrian Peterson fell just nine yards short of the single season NFL rushing record last year, and in picking up where he left off, Peterson broke off a 78 yard touchdown run on his first play of the season last week against the Detroit Lions.
However, the Vikings weren’t able to take advantage and would eventually lose the game 34-24. A big part of that reason is that quarterback Christian Ponder, who again was the 12th pick in the NFL draft, threw three interceptions and fumbled once in the 10 point loss on Sunday.
One of the keys to the Lions having so much success against the Vikings offense, and forcing the number of turnovers they did, was the fact that they essentially took away any running attack they could from Peterson and the Vikings by stacking eight men in the box. In fact, in the second half, the Lions had eight men in the box 36% of the time. What that means is that there are only three defensive backs remaining. If Ponder drops back to pass, some of the guys in the box will be able to drop back into coverage. But if the ball is handed off, Peterson will have little room to run as the defense is stacked up close to the line of scrimmage.
Ponder was completely unable to take advantage of the run heavy defensive playcalling of the Lions. Of Ponder’s three interceptions against the Lions on Sunday, two of them came with eight men in the box. The Lions were able to continue running it, and of Peterson’s 18 rushes, 12 of them came against an eight man box.
Peterson is a freak though. His 78 yard touchdown run came against a defense in which the Lions had nine in the box. Peterson was somehow able to find a hole, and made one defender miss after the Lions overran the play. Peterson would finish the day with just 93 yards though, meaning of his remaining 17 carries, Peterson had just 15 yards, in large part due to all of the Lions defenders stacked up at the line.
The Bears defense had its share of struggles on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. One of them, however, was not in the running game. BenJarvis Green-Ellis is far from Adrian Peterson though, and Peterson will average far more than the 1.8 yards per carry the Green-Ellis did, regardless of how many the Bears have stacked up in the box.
If week one is any indication, this year will be one in which Chicago is unfamiliar with. The defense will need to be able to step up in order to back up what the offense is doing. They made just enough plays in week one to do so. They can do so this week by putting the pressure on Ponder. They can do that by taking away the run the same way the Lions did.
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