ReFo: Bears @ Vikings, Week 17
Well, that’s it. Another NFL regular season in the books, and while there will be postseason football, neither of these two NFC North sides will be involved. All that’s left for each is to take stock, rebuild, and focus on the offseason, ready to do it all over again next year.
Though the score ended up relatively close, this was a game the Vikings controlled throughout and should have been further ahead. They thought they had scored early in the game on a pass to Greg Jennings that came loose as he went to ground before settling for a field goal, and late in the fourth quarter they were stopped in the shadow of the Chicago end zone on fourth down to give the Bears one last chance with the ball.
But let’s take a look at the individual standouts.
Chicago Bears – Performances of Note
Kyle Long, OG: +1.7
Breakdown: The sole Pro-Bowler between the two rosters involved in this game, Long at least showed he was a clear cut above the rest of the Chicago offensive line, even if he didn’t quite dominate the way you would expect a Pro-Bowler to. Long was perfect in pass protection but did give up a few plays to players like Sharrif Floyd.
Signature Stat: Failed to surrender any pressure on 42 snaps of pass protection. The rest of the Chicago O-line combined to surrender 13 total pressures.
Jay Ratliff, DT: +3.4
Breakdown: There was a time not so long ago that Jay Ratliff was one of the best defensive tackles in football. This game was a reminder that he’s a pretty talented player. He notched a sack, hit and hurry as well as some impressive plays in the run game to cap off a quietly impressive season for the Bears.
Signature Play: Q1, 10:24. In a sign of things to come Ratliff completely controlled Michael Harris on this block, forcing a cut and then making the tackle himself the other side of the blocker.
Jay Cutler, QB: -0.9
Breakdown: What to make of Jay Cutler. A -0.9 actually represents one of his better games of the season, and there was still some really nice stuff in there, but this is a quarterback who looks like he needs a lot of help, and has a head coach who was known as ‘the quarterback whisperer’ not too long ago. If Trestman can’t get anything better than this out of Cutler then you have to start looking at Cutler himself, and asking is there anybody that can?
Signature Stat: Actually had a better passer rating under pressure (83.0 vs 71.4) in this game.
Minnesota Vikings – Performances of Note
Audie Cole, LB: +7.8
Breakdown: Chad Greenway has been a fantastic servant to the Minnesota Vikings, but Audie Cole’s performance in this game suggested that maybe it is time to move on. Cole was all over the field, making tackles in the run game, pass game, breaking up passes and even intercepting one that was nullified because of a defensive offside flag.
Signature Stat: Cole’s grade in this game is a better figure than Greenway has ever achieved. The last game Greenway has even had in that ballpark was in Week 11 of the 2008 season.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: +4.0
Breakdown: The numbers might not be as pretty as a week ago, but this was another extremely accomplished performance from the Vikings’ rookie. His accuracy was on point most of the game and deserved better production but for a couple of passes bouncing the wrong way once they reached their intended targets. For the second week in a row he ended up with an interception that hit his receiver in the hands.
Signature Stat: With five dropped passes, one batted at the line and one thrown away, Bridgewater only actually missed on one ‘aimed’ pass all game. An Accuracy Percentage of 95.7%, best of the week.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR: -1.2
Breakdown: How far has Patterson’s star fallen this season? From a player tipped to have a huge year, he ends the season playing just six snaps on offense, and causing an interception by dropping the ball the only time he was targeted. With teams routinely kicking away from him on kickoffs too, his potential impact there has been almost entirely negated.
Signature Stat: Over the last five games Patterson has played just 28 snaps, 20 fewer than he played in the season opener.
PFF Game Ball
Bridgewater had another fine day but the best player on the field was Audie Cole, who had a monster game heading into the offseason which ought to make the team think about his potential as a starter there next season.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam