So far the Dallas Cowboys offensive line has struggled this season and that has been well documented. But you won’t have to look far to find another NFL offense that has an offensive line that has not protected their QB in the Chicago Bears.
When these two NFC teams clash in Dallas on Monday Night Football, you may see as many sacks as the Seahawks produced Monday night against the Packers.
Bears QB Jay Cutler has been sacked 11 times in 3 games while Tony Romo has been sacked 7 times. Romo’s escape ability has probably kept those numbers from being higher. That’s why no doubt we have seen Cutler yelling at his offensive line at times particularly in the Packers game they lost. The Cowboys defense matches up well here.
On the other hand, the Bears defense is the truth. It’s one of the best in the NFL in about any way you can measure it. Their front seven are dominating and they are very good at pressuring QBs, tops in the NFL, which can’t be good news for Romo and his offensive line.
This is where the Cowboys are over matched and it could be a problem Monday night. Dallas was able to survive the Giants defensive front opening night but the Bears actually will present an even bigger challenge.
Let’s break it all down.
BEARS OFFENSE PASSING:
Jay Cutler has an unimpressive 58.6 QB passing rating which places him 31st in the NFL only slightly better than Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. Cutler has thrown 6 interceptions this season which ties him with three other QBs as the most thrown. His completion percentage has only been 52% which combined with the 6 INTs produce a very low QB rating.
As a team, the Bears are ranked 28th in the NFL in passing. WR Brandon Marshall who was picked up from the Dolphins, has caught 16 passes for 214 yds and 1 TD. They also drafted talented WR Alshon Jeffery who has 9 catches for 132 yards and a TD. Marshall has been Cutler’s main weapon in the passing game when he has time to throw.
COWBOYS PASS DEFENSE:
The Cowboys pass defense ranks number 2 in the NFL in yards allowed. Their new CBs Carr and Claiborne have been keeping opposing WRs in check and that could certainly frustrate Cutler.
However the Cowboys lost safety Barry Church with an injury and last week moved Brandon Carr to play safety some. It’s not clear if they will continue to play Carr at safety as it may depend on how healthy the other safety Sensabaugh is at game time. It could make Dallas weaker defending deep passes.
Ware has 4 of the 7 sacks for Dallas in 2012. So far this season, the Cowboys have been good at pressuring QBs but not great.
BEARS OFFENSE RUSHING:
The Bears rushing offense averages 103 yards a game which ranks them 13th in the NFL. Matt Forte has been out with a sprained right ankle but practiced this week and it appears he plans to play against the Cowboys Monday night. FORTE
Bears RB Michael Bush (from the Raiders) has 44 carries and 151 yds in 2012. It’s not clear if Bush is going to be healthy enough to play against the Cowboys, since the Bears were using recently signed back up Kahlil Bell in the fourth quarter of the Rams game. They just aren’t showing their hand on the status of Bush.
COWBOYS RUSHING DEFENSE:
This has not been a strength for the Cowboys so far in 2012 as they rank 19th in defending the run. The Cowboys certainly had trouble with Lynch of the Seahawks and it could be a problem again.
BEARS PASSING DEFENSE:
The Bears lead the NFL in sacks with 14 in three games. Protecting Romo, will be an enormous challenge Monday night because the pressure doesn’t come from just one player. Three Bears Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, and Israel Idonije, have combined for 8 sacks this season.
A struggling Dallas O line combined with an aggressive Bears D line, could equal a long night for Romo trying to pass.
COWBOYS PASSING OFFENSE:
The Cowboys passing game ranks 13th in the NFL. At times the passing game has looked good like Kevin Ogletree against the Giants, but lately it has struggled with several dropped passes and miscues on the offensive line. This is the wrong week for Dallas to struggle on offense. The Bears defense will be very unforgiving.
BEARS RUSHING DEFENSE:
Against the run, the Bears defense has been stingy allowing only 76 yards a game, which ranks 6th in the NFL.
COWBOYS RUSHING OFFENSE:
The Cowboys struggled last year to run the ball and have been a little frustrated this season too even with a healthy DeMarco Murray. Most the blame would appear to be on the offensive line. Dallas averages 76 yards a game rushing and that ranks 29th in the NFL and they are at the very bottom in the NFC.
SPECIAL TEAMS: With Devin Hester, the Bears rank in the top 10 in kickoff and punt returns. Hester represents game changing return ability that Dallas will have to prepare for. Dallas has struggled in kick returns but did get a nice 44 yard punt return from Dez Bryant Sunday.
Overall the advantages go to Chicago. So how can Dallas win this game?
Game plan: Template Provided by the Packers in their 23-10 win.
- The Green Bay Packers were able to harass QB Cutler by sacking him 7 times and forcing 4 INTs. That’s exactly the kind of pressure Dallas needs to bring. Coach Ryan has a little more time with a Monday night game, to put in extra stunts and blitzes to frustrate the Bears O line and cause Cutler to throw them under the bus again which he will do.
- Having the Cowboys corners playing physical and tight on the Bears WRs will help make Cutler hold the ball longer too.
- For the Cowboys to score against a very tough Bears defense, they will need a short field. That means the Dallas defense must produce a few turnovers in the game to set them up.
- Dallas needs to commit to running the football and not be so quick to abandon it. The Packers ran Cedric Benson 20 times against the Bears. Dallas needs to give the ball to Murray 15-20 times because if Dallas attempts to pass every down, the Bears defensive line will be able to just go into “kill the QB” mode.
Without forcing at least 2 or 3 turnovers, I don’t see how Dallas wins this game.