If the Bears have proved anything to me so far this season, it’s that they’re unpredictable. As much as Bears fans wanted the offense to come out and slaughter Indianapolis in their season opener, I’m not sure anyone really thought it would happen so easily.
The failure to get it done in any semblance of that first home game performance since has been disappointing, but also unexpected. Struggles along the offensive line were expected, but I’m not sure we all thought it was still this bad.
Maybe I’ll speak for myself on that last one . . .
I would bet that there was a pretty decent contingent of fans who thought the defense was finally going to take a step back, show their collective age, and struggle. Instead they’ve thrived and currently lead the League in sacks, second in takeaways.
My point is that just when you start to think you have this team’s number, they tend to surprise you—one way or the other. I think—and, no, I’m not overly confident about it—but I think they could surprise us again with a win over Dallas on Monday Night Football.
Here’s how . . .
Let’s start with the Bears’ defense
I feel confident in saying that the Chicago’s defense is the best the Cowboys will have faced all season, having seen New York, Tampa Bay and Seattle thus far. Why is that significant? Because the Cowboys’ offense is currently tied for last in the League in scoring.
In many ways, you see, the Bears and Cowboys are mirrored teams in the NFC—sister teams, if you will. Both are struggling to find an offensive identity; both struggle with inconsistency at the quarterback position; and both boast stout defenses.
I think the goal down in Dallas is to not try and fix what isn’t broke. Let the front four pressure Romo into attempting the throws he shouldn’t, and let an opportunistic secondary put the ball back in the hands of your offense.
I think you’ll see the Bears in a lot of Cover-2, and I think it will behoove them this time around. The Bears’ safeties will be tested at times, but with pressure up front and solid corner play. I expect the defense to be just fine. According to Pro Football Focus, through three games, quarterbacks throwing at Tim Jennings have an average 4.9 passer efficiency rating. Now that’s impressive.
Switching sides to the Bears’ offense
This is going to sound like crazy talk, and I’m really fine with that, but I have an irrational gut feeling that Jay Cutler is going to make some impressive throws down there in Dallas.
Jay Cutler has, in fact, excelled on Monday Night Football, having won four of five starts. In those games he’s thrown for 11 TDs and three interceptions while compiling passer ratings of 108.4, 82.5, 106.6, 99.6 and 96.9.
I’m not sure I can tell you the offensive line steps up and manages to block DeMarcus Ware on Monday night—I would just have no evidence to support that—but what I can see is Matt Forte playing and playing well. And if he plays well enough to slow the pressure on Cutler (assuming he plays at all with that ankle sprain), Jay may pull a few rabbits out of the hat and connect on more than one big play down field.
I would be remiss to walk away from this section without mentioning the Cowboys’ secondary. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are going to make things difficult for Brandon Marshall and company, but that’s why the Bears upgraded the position and should be able to compete with the best in the League.
So get it done.
Having said all that, it’s important to run the football and try to have success early against this Dallas group. Matt Forte’s a game-changer, and I have a sneaking suspicion that if he’s anywhere near healthy, he plays Monday night.
How about some nuggets?
- Chicago is 7-2 (.778) on Monday Night Football under head coach Lovie Smith including winning ﬁve out of their last six. Chicago and Dallas will be facing each other on Monday Night Football for the just the second time, with the ﬁrst meeting coming on September 2, 1996, a 22-6 victory by the Bears at Soldier Field.
- This one’s irrelevant, sure, but who cares?! . . . Bears players with connections to Texas: Head coach Lovie Smith is a native of Big Sandy, TX (who doesn’t want to say their from Big Sandy?!). Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake made two coaching stops in Texas (Baylor and U of Texas) prior to joining the Bears. TE Kyle Adams (Austin), G Roberto Garza (Rio Hondo), DT Henry Melton (Grapevine), DE Cheta Ozougwu (Houston), T Jonathan Scott (Dallas), CB Charles Tillman (Copperas Cove), T J’Marcus Webb (Mesquite), WR Joe Anderson (Texarkana), DE Aston Whiteside (Vernon), and WR Johnny Knox (Houston) . . . all from the Big T.
- Twelve of the 22 games between these two clubs have been decided by 10 points or less. Seven of those 12 were decided by less than a touchdown and four were decided with a score in the final five minutes of the game.
Official prediction: Bears 20, Cowboys 16