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Good news, bad news: Bears have 8 weeks to get ready for Vikings' Allen
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Columnist

Minnesota Vikings' Jared Allen (69) sacks Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers for a safety Monday.

 

Associated Press

Jared Allen reacts after sacking Rodgers.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 10/6/2009 4:01 PM

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The bad news for the Bears is that the Vikings appeared to be hitting on all cylinders in Monday night's 30-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers that kept them undefeated and a game ahead of Lovie Smith's crew in the NFC North.

The good news is that the Bears don't play the Vikings for almost eight weeks.

By then they'll have to figure out a way to block Vikings defensive right end Jared Allen, who terrorized Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with 4½ of Minnesota's 8 sacks. Whatever the Bears did against Allen last year didn't work, because he had 4½ sacks in two games against them.

Granted, Allen was playing Monday night against converted guard Daryn Colledge, who moved to left tackle two weeks ago when Chad Clifton was injured, and then Colledge left in the second half with a leg injury, but 4½ sacks is still impressive.

Bears offensive left tackle Orlando Pace will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day but there's no chance, in the twilight of his career, that he can handle Allen by himself. That puts even more importance on the Bears' ground game, which was better against Detroit but still has room for improvement.

By running at Allen early, they can wear him down and take away a lot of his aggressiveness as a pass rusher. If they allow him to get into a constant pass-rush mode, they won't be able to block him.

Monday's win also is proof that Brett Favre still can play, and play incredibly well, especially if he isn't pressured. If the Bears don't do a better job of hurrying Favre, he's sure to pick them apart as he did the Packers, who have a better secondary than the Bears but not a better pass rush.

Green Bay seemed reluctant to blitz the 19-year veteran, who turns 40 on Saturday, even though Favre doesn't have nearly the mobility he did when he was leading the Packers to an 18-2 record over the Bears from 1994 through 2003.

The Packers did a tremendous job of shutting down Adrian Peterson Monday night, but at what expense? The best running back in football was held to 55 yards on 25 carries and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. But by overplaying Peterson, the Packers chose death by air, allowing Favre too much time to scan the field for open receivers.

Favre was never sacked Monday night and rarely pressured while completing 77.4 percent of his passes (24 of 31) for 271 yards, 3 touchdowns, no sacks and a 135.3 passer rating.

The Bears may not be able to blitz as much as they have been this season, certainly not as much as they did on the Seahawks' final possession when Seattle was trying to erase a 25-19 deficit in Week Three.

Blitz too often, and Favre will make you pay. But fail to get after him, and Favre will also make you pay. When he's hurried, Favre will make mistakes. He always has, even in his prime, and he still believes he can pull a great play out of a hat even when there's nothing there.

For 10 years that worked against the Bears, but not recently. In Favre's last six games against the Bears, he has been awful, throwing 13 interceptions and just 2 TD passes, while getting sacked 17 times and compiling a 1-5 record.

In four of those games, Favre's passer rating was under 53.0, and his highest mark was just 83.5.

The Vikings did show some flaws against the Packers. When they weren't sacking Rodgers, they were allowing him to throw for 384 yards and complete 26 of 37 passes with 2 touchdowns.

OK, so maybe that's the only flaw that was evident against the Packers. But after a breather in St. Louis against the Rams this week, the Vikings have consecutive games against the 3-1 Ravens at home and on the road against the Steelers and Packers.

By then, maybe another chink in the armor will appear.