After a wild Sunday Week 4 will conclude tonight with our Bears taking on the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football in front of a national audience. Jay Cutler has been solid in prime time games with a 4-1 record in Monday night games and 6-3 in the last nine Bears' night games. Unfortunately, he is also 3-6 in prime time road games so it is a bit of a question mark for which version of Cutler will show up. To get you ready for some football, here are five things that the Bears MUST do to beat the Cowboys and move their record to 3-1.
1) Contain DeMarcus Ware
Easily the most important key to a Bears victory is the containment of Dallas' stand out and six time Pro Bowl linebacker. He will be on J'Marcus Webb's end of the field which easily makes this Webb's biggest test in the early season. Webb hasn't exactly shined at left tackle and rumblings at Halas Hall say one more poor performance could be the end of the J'Webb Nation experiment at left tackle. Expect the Bears to give Webb plenty of blocking help on Ware by adding tight ends and running backs as second and third levels of blocking. If the Bears can contain Ware it not only will give Cutler more time and allow the passing game to develop but it will hopefully build up Webb's confidence.
2) The Offense Must Get Going
Despite a highly touted offense the Bears rank 26th in total offense, 28th in the passing game and 16th in the running game. With Matt Forte declaring himself active for Monday's game it means Cutler's safety net is back and will hopefully free up some of the skittish behavior he has shown in the pocket the last two games. With both Forte and Bush back in the running game it should force the Cowboys' defense to respect the run game and leave plenty of opportunity for the receivers to work in man coverage and find some open looks down the field.
3) The Wide Receivers Must Help Cutler Out
Jay Cutler has not been good the last two games but it is hardly all on him. With offensive line breakdowns and wide receivers dropping passes that are hitting them in the hands and chest it is hard to put all the blame on #6. Drops by Marshall, Bennett, Hester, Jeffery, and Davis have all killed drives and momentum this season and if the Bears want to see the offense to start to gel it has to start with the passing game. Depending on how many catchable balls land on the turf instead of in receivers' hands will play a large part on the pace the Bears offense plays at and also how many big chances they take down the field. The Cowboys have the #1 ranked defense in the league and two very talented cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne who have been a solid pair so far this season and the Bears have to use the size advantage of Marshall and Jeffery to attack Dallas' secondary.
4) The Bears' Defensive Line Must Stay Dominant
The Bears defense has racked up 14 sacks in three games. 13 of them are courtesy of the defensive line. The interchanging front four has been outstanding this season with every member having a solid showing thus far. Julius Peppers continues to be the main concern for opposing offensive lines but the emergence of Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Shea McClellin are showing that the Bears have some youth and talent that they can build around for the future. If the defensive line can continue its surge and get to Tony Romo it will let the other seven defenders shut down threats like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray. The less time Romo has to make decisions, the better.
5) The Bears Coaching Staff Must Make Quicker Adjustments
The Bears' loss to Green Bay in Week 2 was ugly. The lack of adjustments made after halftime were just as ugly. With Mike Tice being a rookie offensive coordinator it is critical that the Bears must adjust on offense if something isn't working. Don't wait until halftime, fix it immediately. No more double coverage passes to Brandon Marshall when other receivers are in single man. No more end around plays that gain six yards. The defense isn't in the clear either. Don't allow Cowboys' receivers a 5 yard cushion on every passing play. I am sick of seeing a completion by an opponent with three Bears' defenders in the vicinity but no one within five yards. If things start off rough for the Bears on either side of the ball and don't make adjustments before halftime then it could be another Monday Night embarrassment in Bears' history.
Final Prediction: Bears 23, Cowboys 20
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