It’s time to get back into the film room to go over the Bears’ impressive win over the Cowboys. Say what you want about how bad the Cowboys are this season, it’s still a game that the Bears were an underdog for, so to be 2-0 is a great thing.
Jay Cutler was as impressive in this game as he’s been in his entire Bears’ career. His line: 21/29, 277 yards, 3 TD’s, ZERO INTERCEPTIONS. Any Bears fan knows exactly why I CAPS LOCKED the ZERO INTERCEPTIONS. The Cowboys blitzed him often and early, and while early on it looked like he was going to have a long day, Cutler adjusted by keeping plays alive and finding hot reads on several occasions, once even leading to a touchdown.
I’ve always loved Cutler’s competitiveness. Some take his on-field demeanor to mean he’s bored, or frustrated, or whatever. I take it as being competitive. He’s not afraid to show his frustration, whether it’s directed toward his offensive line, or at his coaches for not getting him the play on time and forcing him to burn a timeout.
I think the new offense suits him well. I’ve also always said that as long as he gets time to set his feet and throw, he doesn’t miss very often. Add that to Martz’ philosophy that Cutler should throw to the first open receiver he can find, and Cutler should succeed.
After two games, his TD/INT ratio is 5-to-1. After two games last year, it was 3-to-4. A bit of an improvement, I’d say. He’s got a big test, though, coming up on Monday night. The Packers picked him off six times in two games last year.
The Bears didn’t really run the ball much in this game, even though they had decent success when they did run the ball. The backs only got 14 carries in the game, with Matt Forte carrying 10 times for 29 yards. A 2.9 yards per carry average is pretty deceiving, though, as Forte ran well when he got the ball. He was patient, yet ran straight forward and didn’t dance around in the backfield. Forte also made a great play on the goal line–as a wide receiver. He read single coverage on the edge and Cutler threw him a back-shoulder fade. The defender had no chance, and Matt Forte made the catch for the score. Forte did have five catches for 37 yards as they continue to utilize him as a receiver out of the backfield.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A lot of people dog Devin Hester for his abilities, or lack thereof, at the wide receiver position, but he had a really nice game against the Cowboys. He did a great job recognizing he was uncovered and took the ball down inside the five yard line, setting up the Cutler-to-Forte touchdown on the next play. Also on that play, Greg Olsen made a nice block allowing Hester to run free. Devin also made a great acrobatic catch in the second quarter for a score.
Devin did make a couple of mistakes, though. A 29-yard completion to Greg Olsen was negated because Hester covered him up on the line of scrimmage, creating an illegal formation. He also made a bad, really bad punt return, as he netted -5 yards while running sideways.
Ouch. Early on in the game, the line had no chance in stopping the Cowboys. To be fair, the Cowboys were bringing seven, even eight defenders at times trying to get to Jay Cutler. Once they figured out they could get pressure with just four rushers, the line had an easier time blocking for Cutler.
The thing they struggled with the most was blitz recognition and pickup. Maybe it was just a product of the Cowboys simply bringing more than the Bears could block, but regardless, Jay Cutler had no time to throw early. Maybe some of the blame belongs to Cutler for not seeing the blitz and alerting the line to it, but ultimately it’s not Cutler blocking.
They could hardly stop a four or five man rush, and the especially struggled with speed rushes from the outside. They’ve got another big test coming up in the Packers, who already have 10 sacks on the young season.
This was another part of the Bears’ team that didn’t stand out on Sunday. The D-Line really didn’t do much of anything at all. They were pretty much manhandled by the Cowboys’ offensive line on the run for much of the game, and when it came time to rush the passer, there wasn’t much there. The guy who looked the worst, I think, was Tommie Harris. He’s supposed to be one of the guys that benefits the most from Julius Peppers’ presence, yet he wasn’t a factor at all.
Against a struggling offensive line, the Bears’ front four should have thrived, but they didn’t. Not a good sign for the rest of the year.
It’s a good thing the Bears have the linebackers they have, because they were the stars of the game. I think the main reason the Bears have only allowed 56 yards rushing for the whole season thus far is the linebackers. Both Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs have been great in reading run and filling gaps. They’re getting penetration and wreaking havoc. The Bears haven’t been blitzing as much this season, which I think allows the linebackers to get better penetration, if that makes sense. If the Bears blitz all the time, the offensive line will be used to picking up blitzers. If they don’t blitz and read run, they can more easily find a gap and make a play.
Have yourself a game, DJ Moore. Two interceptions and an “assist” on the Roy Williams fumble later, and everyone’s talking about Moore’s great game. For the record, I think that his interceptions were more a case of being in the right place at the right time, but still, he gets credit for making a heads up play. On the negative side, Moore chased a fake reverse from the opposite side of the field, which opened the right side of the field and allowed Marion Barber to get to the second level.
As far as Moore’s “assist” goes, he held up Roy Williams, without tackling him, so that Charles Tillman could come over and punch the ball out of Williams’ arms.
Chris Harris made a nice read on a screen pass on 2nd and long. As a whole, the defense did a great job of tackling for the entire game, and for both games for that matter. One of their biggest challenges last season was simple tackling.
I think the Cowboys exposed a hole in the Bears’ Cover 2 scheme…even though it’s not much of a secret anymore. Miles Austin made a living catching passes along the right sideline behind the corner and in front of the safety. I know the Bears don’t always play Cover 2, but it’s what their defensive scheme is based off of, and I’d like to see Lovie mix it up a little more.
When Chris Williams went out with a hamstring injury, they inserted Kevin Shaffer in at left tackle. He quickly proved he wasn’t worthy, and so they flipped him to right tackle and moved Frank Omiyale to the left side. Williams is questionable for Monday night’s game against Green Bay, though I get the feeling some feel they’re better off without him on the field.
I liked the way they adjusted to the Cowboys’ frequent blitzes…they got the ball to the running backs in the flats on quick hitters, and they used screens and draws coming out of halftime to move the ball.
Lovie Smith is notorious for wasting his two challenges. He wasted another one on Sunday when he challenged a non-fumble. He threw that flag so quickly, and the TV replays showed that there was no question that the play was ruled correctly on the field as a non-fumble. Obviously, if he’s got a chance to get a turnover, he should think about it, but I think he should have kept that one in his pocket. His coaches upstairs, if they were watching the replay, should have told him to save it. In any case, it’s another wasted challenge and a lost timeout. It’s going to cost him dearly one of these days.
I also didn’t like the play calling after the Roy Williams fumble late in the game. At the time, they’re up by ten with four minutes to go. They went three and out, running the ball three times for a total gain of two yards. They only forced the Cowboys to take one timeout. I know this is the conservative approach, but I think they could have, and should have been a little more aggressive. They had success throwing the ball, and should have taken at least one shot to get a new set of downs. They’ve got a two-possession lead, so there’s room for error. Maybe that’s just me.
Overall, it was a good performance by the Bears, but maybe they just took advantage of a very average football team. We’ll see what happens this Monday when they get a really legitimate test in the Green Bay Packers.