The Bears are one of the few teams in the NFL that have the ability to win games on either side of the ball. The talent even leaks into the special teams, where the Bears have more than enough to win games with a key ST play.
The balance the Bears have found throughout this first quarter of football has led them to their current record of 3-1, and a share of first place in the NFC North.
Last night, the Bears gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle in their own building. Every phase of Chicago’s game plan came to fruition, and the Bears dominated the both physically and mentally. The chord the offense had been searching for was finally struck, and it turned into a slaughter of Tony Romo and the Dallas secondary.
Jerry Jones’ Palace turned into Soldier Field Dallas, as most Cowboys fans didn’t even stick around to the see the final outcome of the game. The chants of 'Let's go Bears' rang throughout the stadium, and Bears players felt like they were back home.
Cutler and Marshall reliving their Denver days
Jay Cutler: 18 of 24, 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 140.1 passer rating; Brandon Marshall: 7 catches, 138 yards, 1 touchdown, 19.7 average, and 8 targets.
When Brandon Marshall was acquired from the Miami Dolphins, this is the kind of game Bears fans envisioned. For most fans, myself included, it’s almost surreal to see a Chicago wide receiver putting up those kind of numbers.
Marshall had some growing pains, and was still adjusting to a new offense and system. But, as many Bears players alluded to, if he continued to play in the system, the numbers and receptions would come.
Jay Cutler has stopped trying to force the ball to Marshall, and Mike Tice has put him in better situations where Marshall excels. The Bears ran Marshall on slants, and ins early and often to get him involved. It also allowed him to get the ball in open space, and make plays with yards after the catch like he's known for.
The long, deep routes came later on when the Cowboys’ defense was more tentative. Jay stayed patient, and let Marshall go through his progression in his routes which led to the numbers Marshall had last night.
The Denver connection seems to have returned.
The most surprising aspect of the Bears’ offense was the ability to give Jay a clean pocket, and time to throw from the offensive line. Cutler was sacked a season low 2 times for 8 yards. The Cowboys came into this game as the number one overall defense, with the athletic freak at linebacker in DeMarcus Ware.
Ware only bested inferior tackle J'Marcus Webb one time, and for the most part was rendered useless even in one-on-ones. The Bears were without Evan Rodriguez, but Kyle Adams and Matt Spaeth played a solid game upfront in his absence.
The balance on offense led to the surprising numbers in the passing game. The running game, from the stat sheet looked non-existent. But it played large dividends in giving the Bears more manageable second and third downs. Forte only had 53 yards, but overall the running game ended with 93 yards as a team (29 from Bush, 12 from Bell).
Monsters of the Midway
The Bears’ defense has been playing at a level at which a lot of critics did not think was possible. The 2012 Bears were supposed to be an electrifying spectacle on offense, and an experienced defense with degrading talent.
Rod Marinelli’s crew has answered the call of the critics, and has come out with a defensive effort we have not seen in quite some time. Five Tony Romo interceptions, two returned for touchdowns. The Bears defense nearly outscored the Cowboys offense. This outburst of turnovers and touchdowns, however, came on a game where the Bears failed to get sacks, which has been the strong point of the defense this season.
While the Bears did fail to notch sacks, they got the next best thing: pressure. Chicago had a consistent pass rush all game, which had Romo scrambling for his life and having to make plays outside the pocket.
Marinelli brought many different blitz packages to forceRomo into quick, sometimes bad, decisions. He brought Conte, Moore, and other defensive backs from the edges. Bears showed pressure on almost every down, but would drop most into coverage and only rush four. Henry Melton was the only player able to get to Romo, and his consistency has proven costly for opposing teams.
The secondary is the real story on defense, though. Five interceptions, a Peanut Tillman touchdown, and a Lance Briggs touchdown. Major Wright has continued his fantastic season with 2 more picks, and D.J. Moore caught his first one, to give Romo five interceptions on the night.
I have not seen such a display of athleticism and concentration from a secondary like this in a long time. Lovie has always preached turnovers, and the Cover-2 eventually leaves offenses susceptible to make mistakes and give the ball over. The Bears, in their base defense, brought this philosophy to the forefront last night.
Winning with balance
The Bears, for the first time this season, showed the capabilities and talent available on both sides of the ball. It was riveting to see production from almost every aspect of this football team. It was a total-team effort that will force some people to take notice of the Chicago Bears now.
The defense has been stout, and consistent since week one. The Bears offense is just beginning to gain back that confidence.
The only thing missing now is a Devin Hester punt return for touchdown.
Bears next 4 games are against 1-3 opponents; 2 at home, and 2 vs. a weak AFC South division. Time to stack some wins!