EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Jared Allen has spent five years with the Minnesota Vikings and is well-versed in the Chicago Bears and what they try to do, having played nine career games against Chicago.
Nothing would shock Minnesota’s veteran defensive end, who unfortunately has a 2-7 record in those games. Of course, Allen’s never had the chance to face Chicago twice in the span of three weeks, so this week’s game at home against the Bears, who beat Minnesota 28-10 just two weeks ago, brings even more familiarity.
“I guess it restricts the amount of film we have to watch in between,” Allen said. “You have your fresh film. There isn’t a whole lot that’s changed in the past two weeks. It’s fresh in your mind, so I guess its simpler in the fact that we face them twice a year every year anyway. You go through the same routine though.”
The Vikings might not enjoy replaying the game film from the previous loss to Chicago, which won thanks to winning the turnover-differential and controlling the game clock. The Bears won the time of possession battle 37:30-22:30 against Minnesota and were plus-1 in turnovers. The Vikings, again, could get little going with the passing game with receivers dropping seven passes.
Those memories were still fresh in the minds of the Vikings, but the game film and familiarity will help. Playing a division foe twice in the span of three games is a rarity in the NFL these days. Minnesota actually faced the Green Bay Packers twice in the span of three games last season, but had a bye week mixed in as well. Of course, the Vikings won’t want to remember those games either, losing both to the rival Packers.
The last time Minnesota had faced a team twice in three weeks was in 1995 against Green Bay. However, playing a division opponent twice so close together was common on the Vikings’ schedule in the mid-to-late 1980s. The current players and coaches aren’t used to those times and do face some unique challenges in preparing for the same team in such short order.
“You’re looking at some things that you did well and that you didn’t do, and there’s such a short window between the two games that you wonder how much either team can change,” said Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier. “Although you know there can be some different wrinkles here and there, but probably the biggest difference is where you are health-wise because I don’t think schematically things will change a whole lot. It’s just a matter of improving in what you did from the first ballgame, but probably where you are injury-wise.”
And for the Bears, that’s a big change. While Minnesota will come home with the same players it had two weeks ago, Chicago has already ruled out two defensive leaders, linebacker Brian Urlacher and cornerback Tim Jennings. Other than losing those two though, the Bears aren’t looking at this game much differently.
“We haven’t done this before so its new for us,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. “We’re just looking at it as, hey, Minnesota Vikings up on the chart next for us and we have to get ready for them. We both know each other well. So, it’s a little different too. In the division, you do know each other so well.”
The Vikings have had success in the short turnarounds. Dating back to 1985, Minnesota is 9-5 in such cases. The familiarity puts even more of an emphasis on performance.
“They know what we’re going to do,” Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said. “We pretty much knew what they were going to do. It’s all about the team that makes the least amount of mistakes and whoever executes the best should win the game.”
Minnesota will need to be focused on many of those same aspects when it hosts Chicago this week, as well as trying to pressure Bears quarterback Jay Cutler again.
Kropog added to active roster: Two days after putting leading receiver Percy Harvin on the season-ending injured reserve, Minnesota filled his spot on the active 53-man roster by promoting offensive tackle Troy Kropog from the practice squad.
Kropog, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound lineman in his third year out of Tulane, was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 18 and gives the Vikings’ nine offensive linemen on the active roster. Minnesota chose to add to the line instead of adding help, for now, at receiver after losing Harvin.
The Vikings have five active wide receivers on the 53-man roster and have 6-foot-5 receiver Chris Summers on the practice squad. Minnesota also held tryouts following Friday’s practice with three unidentified receivers, but chose not to sign one on Friday.