Why Chicago May Begin Spying on Minnesota

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Limit the damage Josh Dobbs can do with his legs. Doing so will keep the Vikings’ revamped offense from reaching its potential.

With Kirk Cousins under center, defenses didn’t need to spend too much time worrying about the threat of a QB chewing up yards with his legs. Things are different with The Passtronaut, though. Chicago understands the threat of a mobile QB. After all, they have perhaps the main running quarterback in the NFL in Justin Fields.

Aug 26, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) is stopped by Buffalo Bills cornerback Christian Benford (47) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Broncos mostly neutralized Minnesota’s scrambling quarterback. True, Dobbs did do a nice job of scoring a touchdown on the ground, but he was mostly corralled on Sunday Night Football. He finished the prime time game with 8 carries for just 21 yards. On average, each Dobbs carry went for 2.6 yards.

One wonders, then, if the Bears will make it a priority to limit what Dobbs is capable of doing. If so, then a QB spy may be the move for Matt Eberflus.

Minnesota Mobility and The Merits of a Some Chicago Spying

Generally speaking, a QB spy refers to a linebacker keeping his eyes on the quarterback on passing plays. Wherever the QB goes, the LB goes.

The tactic is relatively straightforward, at least in its basic theory. The thinking is that certain QBs demand an extra level of care. Failing to account for Fields at all times will almost certainly lead to a long day for the Brian Flores defense. Don’t be shocked if Ivan Pace gets relieved of pass coverage responsibilities, instead being burdened with shadowing Mr. Fields. When the Chicago QB threatens to scramble, Pace will be all over him.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

What happens if we flip things around? From the Chicago end of things, a player like Tremaine Edmunds stands out.

The 25-year-old linebacker is a remarkably gifted player. He comes in at 6’5″, 250 and ran a 4.54 forty. For context, Anthony Barr finds himself at 6’5″, 247 and he ran a 4.66. So, think of a young Barr but with a bit more weight and faster (there’s a reason why each one was chosen in the 1st round).

Edmunds picked up a 9.74 RAS score leading into the 2018 Draft, further showing that he’s among the most uniquely-gifted players at his position.

Will Eberflus put it on Edmunds to spy Josh Dobbs? The Bears clearly hold their linebacker in high regard. During the offseason, Edmunds received a 4-year, $72,000,000 deal. Injuries have limited him to nine games in 2023, but the defender is still up to 71 tackles, 3 TFLs, and a pair of INTs.

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) scrambles against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

His running mate is T.J. Edwards. Not as physically imposing since he’s “only” coming in at 6’1″, 242, Edwards is still an excellent player. Any Vikings fans who need further convincing should simply turn on the tape from Week 6. Both Edmunds and Edwards pulled off some major plays in that game.

Let’s not forget that Minnesota’s defense was responsible for scoring a touchdown in the 19-13 victory in the game at Soldier Field. Cousins & Co. didn’t exactly light the world on fire. The Bears will be looking to ensure it’s a similarly modest day for O’Connell’s crew. Accomplishing the goal may mean making a concerted effort toward keeping Dobbs from taking off.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With the Lions losing on Thanksgiving, the Vikings have a golden opportunity to shrink the margin between themselves and the division leaders. And, of course, pulling off a win will help to keep a variety of pursuing teams — Packers, Buccaneers, Falcons, Rams — from gaining ground for that coveted #7 spot in the playoff race.

Minnesota and Chicago begin their battle at 7:15 p.m. CST on Monday, November 27th. Afterwards, the Vikings will head into their bye week.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.