On a frigid night in Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears managed to score on every single offensive possession. A year ago, or even ten years ago, that would have been inconceivable, especially in those conditions. But the Bears managed to roll over a struggling Cowboys defense and get a win in a must-win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive.
It all starts with the balance the offense found through the play calling and production. Josh McCown threw for 341 yards, and Matt Forte ran for another 102. The Bears had 19 passing first downs and 10 running first downs. It was a game where every facet of the offensive game plan clicked and ran to perfection. It was one of the best games called by Kromer and Trestman all season, and they were able to put all their weapons on display.
The offense won despite another lack luster performance from the defense, which allowing nearly 200 rushing yards. The Bears’ defense also tied an NFL record, allowing six straight 100-yard rushers in six consecutive games.
The defense was, however, able to keep the Cowboys’ third down efficiency to only 50% which was an improvement from the last couple weeks, and they were much better in passing downs, keeping Romo to only 104 yards through the air.
Mel Tucker finally found the magic touch on third down and called some effective blitzes. Tucker has gone away from the linebackers blitzing ever since D.J. Williams went down and teams starting gashing the Bears in the run game.
The time of possession heavily favored the Bears, which absolutely helped out the defense against the Cowboys’ passing attack. It was another game where DeMarco Murray — or whichever back came in the game — was getting whatever they wanted through the A and B gaps. The defense found a way to stabilize in the second half and give the ball back to the Bears’ red hot offense.
Overall, it was a nice bounce-back for Tucker and company after that embarrassment in Minnesota a week before.
But as I said earlier, this night was all about the offense. Enough can’t be said about the job McCown and his unit did last night. Bears were great on first down in the run game, and Forte had another stellar performance running and catching the ball, mostly on first down.
Forte gave the Bears lots of manageable second and third downs throughout the game, too. The most impressive part of the offense last night was their ability to extend drives on third down. Bears were 8-11 (72.27%) on third down and converted a few long ones.
A key adjustment the Bears’ offensive staff made this week in the play calling was the mix of short and long plays. The Bears found a balance between the run, the short passing game, and the deep passing game to Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall.
At times, the offense would go on a string of running plays until the Cowboys could stop it. The Bears would then counter-act by going short screen plays off play action, which eventually led to the long plays down the field to the wide receivers. It is absolutely the result of the Trestman offense when they find a nice balance and the offense can execute on key downs.
The Bears found a way to get all their playmakers involved, which was the most positive thing I took away from the game. Six different offensive players scored, three players had nine targets, and four had five or more receptions.
Players like Forte, Marshall and Jeffrey had 10+ yards after the catch on their receptions, and it put on display the sheer playmaking ability of those guys alone. Even guys like Dante Rosario, Michael Bush and Earl Bennett had impacts on the game. It was the most balanced production the Bears have gotten all year, and they will look to expand on that moving forward.
I also have to commend the offensive line for another dominant performance in the pass and run blocking. As the year has gone on, these guys have been getting less and less credit, but overall they might the MVPs of the team.
McCown has loads of time to make reads in the pocket. The downfield blocking on run plays is also fantastic. Forte has had some big plays behind the blocking of guys like Mills and Long. It was another effort worth commending from a group of guys that have quietly done their job all season.
I also have to commend Adam Podlesh for his play … just kidding.
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