Vikings want to copy Bears special teams, lack key ingredient


As soon as the Vikings signed cornerback Zack Bowman this offseason, special teams coach Mike Priefer started “grilling him.”

Priefer was looking for the secrets to the Bears special teams success, and was hoping Bowman had some intel on his old team.

Unless Bowman had Devin Hester tucked in his carry-on bag, it’s hard to imagine how he’ll make enough difference, but it’s smart to want to copy one of the league’s best units.

“It was me trying to get information from him not only about the Chicago Bears and what they do and teach, but what made them so successful,” Priefer told’s Kevin Seifert. “I know they have a great returner and they have a good kicker and a good punter, but the mentality that they take to every Sunday is where I want our guys to get to. That is a great challenge for us.

“The Bears, Packers and the Lions are all very good special-teams units and I want to see what made them so successful behind the scenes.”

The presence of Hester lends a credibility to all phases of the kicking game, and that’s the kind of thing you can’t duplicate without personnel.

“Basically,” Priefer said, “they believed every time that they returned the ball, punt or kickoff, they had a chance to score. When you have a great returner, that’s the feeling you’re going to get. It makes guys work a little bit harder. They believe in it more.”

The Vikings were near the bottom in special teams rankings, and they might struggle to get better unless they want to use Percy Harvin more on returns. And given that they can’t bet on where his head will be on any given day, it might not be the best allocation of resources.

15 responses to “Vikings want to copy Bears special teams, lack key ingredient

  1. They also have this guy named Dave Toub, that doesn’t panic when they lose guys like Daniel Manning, Brendan Ayenbadejo, and the above mentioned Zach Bowman. He knows how to coach. Apparently unlike this guy in Minnesota wondering how they got so good rather than knowing already.

  2. Bears special teams lost a lot when Ayanbedejo signed with the Ravens. They’ve improved some since then but I still think they were much better with him. While Maynard was good, they upgraded at the right time with Podlesh.

    And the trick return against Green Bay, although called back, was one of the best plays I’ve seen.

    Bears special teams are smart, fast and tackle well.

    That’s all.

    P.S. Don’t forget Robbie Gould either.

  3. If the Vikings could they would copy on how to run an organization properly from The Packers

  4. The key ingredient is Dave Toub, not Hester. Hester is a once a generation talent no doubt, but the Bears have had success in all phases and with other kick returners as well, don’t forget that Knox was a pro-bowl alternate and D. Manning was pretty good too.

  5. The missing ingredient? Sorry, but since 2009, I’d take Percy Harvin as a return man over Devin Hester. I believe Harvin has four kickoff returns for TDs in the past three season, plus a non-scoring 104 yard effort.

    I can understand the Vikings not wanting to use Harvin on punt returns, but I’d love to see him do it at least part time.

  6. Their kick-off return and punt teams should have plenty of opportunities to fine-tune.

  7. As a Packers fan I wish the Pack had Special Teams units as good as the Bears.

    I hate the Bears… absolutely hate ’em… but I have to give credit where credit is due. The Bears ALWAYS play exceptionally well on Special Teams.

    It isn’t Hester, or Toub, or any one person or group of persons… it’s everyone from top to bottom.

  8. Almost every coach in the league talks about the three phases of the game, putting equal importance unto special teams, but Lovie Smith is the only head coach that dedicates the time in every practice to make sure the Bears special teams are better than the other guys!! Dave Toub does an amazing job and keeps his special teamers inspired, but it starts at the top!! In Chicago nobody is exempt from special teams, that’s why you’ll see Julius Peppers and DJ Moore blocking kicks and Briggs & Urlacher making huge blocks on punt returns from time to time!!

    As a Bears fan, I love knowing that the other team is just as nervous as I am excited whenever that ball is kicked!!!

  9. I’m not a Lovie Smith hater, but if we get rid of him and can’t hire Bill Cowher after this season I wouldn’t be upset if Dave Toub was coaching this team. The guy has consistently run the best special teams unit in the league and now teams in our own division are publicly admitting that they can’t figure it out. Special Teams has aspects of both offense and defense, so it’s not THAT easy of a job. Anyone remember that “fake” punt return TD from Knox last year that got called back? Even the camera couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on, it was awesome.

  10. I think one of the things that would make the vikings better is not not pick up Bear retreads. It used to be limited to WRs, but Bowman?

    And it’s both Dave Toub and Lovie Smith. @lilmiddle is spot on. If you’re not starting, you better be contributing on special teams, or you are not making the team. Period. Not the biggest Lovie fan (also I’m not a hater), but that doesn’t happen without active support from the head coach.

    Sure, Hester’s a once-in-a-generation returner, and should be the first kick returner in the Hall of Fame, but he owes Toub and his schemes some credit.

  11. Percy Harvin is our No. 1 kick returner, and he’s one of the best in the game. Jarius Wright, Josh Robinson and Devin Armashadu are pretty good to at KR/PR.

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