On behalf of Chicago Bears fans everywhere, I’d like to welcome back Julius Peppers. After a few weeks with little impact he picked up a couple of sacks against the Vikings. It was good to see him actively involved in the game, getting after the opposing quarterbacks, and making an his presence felt. Make no mistake about it, the Bears defense will only work if Peppers and the rest of the Bears defensive line is rushing the passer on a consistent basis. Pressure from the front four is critical to any defense, but even more so with the Bears version of the Tampa 2/Cover 2.
It wasn’t only Peppers this week, the entire d-line seemed energized. Part of it was the Minnesota Vikings not being that good of a football team, but I think part of it was from coming off the embarrassing loss to the Lions in week 5. The Bears defense was hungry, and they played like it. Not only did they register 5 sacks, they also held arguably the best running back in the game, Adrian Peterson, in check. The d-line was controlling their gaps and cutting off cut back lanes.
But back to Peppers. He missed some practice time during the week after injuring his knee against the Lions, and speculation was that he would miss the game. Word from Halas Hall was that DT Henry Melton would kick outside to DE for the game. The Bears were prepared to play without their Pro Bowl DE.
Peppers was even listed as doubtful before the Sunday Night kickoff. Rarely do you see players with the doubtful designation (75% chance to miss a game) play, and it’s even more unlikely that the doubtful player will play so impactfully. You have to assume with the importance of the game for the 2-3 Bears, that Pep would find a way to play through the pain and do his part to get the team to 3-3.