Sunday, September 23, 2007
Boys vs. Bears
Merry sunday, folks.
This game's a big one. You didn't need me to tell you that, we've known it since the day the schedule was put up there. But recent events have augmented its significance even more so.
First off, this is the first game where the evidently formidable Cowboys offensive attack will face a truly worthy adversary. The Dolphins were supposed to be a test, but that unit shows very little resemblance to the one I'd known. Chicago, however, remains a stalwart unit. Despite voluntarily losing Tank the nose tackle, the Bears have what is probably the stoutest run stuffing squad in football. I maintain what I've said for the last several years: Brian Urlacher is from another world. As far as running back banes go, he's second to none, unparalleled, unchallenged. The ursines from the windy city trot out a mean pass rush as well, and their secondary is not an exploitable region.
Offensively? A different tale altogether. We all saw Trent Green make a complete fool of himself last week; Believe me, Rex Grossman is capable of being just as pathetic. The Bears' running game is slightly more potent than the Dolphins', but I attribute that more to teams being all too eager to take advantage of Rex's inability to be mediocre.
In fact, the majority of their points come from special teams. Devin Hester is their greatest offensive weapon, and that's no exaggeration. I mentioned Urlacher as a singular player; Hester is the same way. They've also been stellar on kickoffs, punt coverage, and field goals.
Why am I telling you things you're already very aware of? Because It's telling of the way this game will go. Firstly: The Bears' run D is terrific, yes. But the Cowboys rely on the run not as a primary option, but an alternative solution. Tony Romo has torn up two bad secondaries to this point, I won't deny it. And the Bears present an entirely different animal-but if there is anywhere on the defensive end where they are vulnerable, It's the secondary. That's not to say It's a weak secondary, as I think our hometown boys would be very glad to have one of that quality. But it is not near as stout as the frontline they trot out there. I expect the Bears to gameplan for a couple of things: Eliminating the Cowboys' rushing attack, and shutting down TO and Jason Witten. The first is doable, for as I stated they have immense capabilities in that area. The second will be far more difficult to pull off effectively.
See, this is the thing. TO and Witten are two enormous weapons, and they're Tony Romo's two favorite targets. But if there's anything we've learned about Romo throughout his time here, It's that he's not discriminant. If the Bears choose to assign four people to the task of clinging to two of ours, they're going to pay the price. Patrick Crayton's no star, but he can capitalize if the ball comes his way without a defender in his longitude. My point is this: The Cowboys have depth in their receiver corps, and they're going to use it.
Another thing that intrigues me about today's matchup: Bears' D-line vs. Cowboys' O-Line. Delicious!
What happens when the Bears have the ball? They run, run, run, and throw the ball in low-risk situations. Cedric Benson has made his way in this world by running around the line, not through it. Unfortunately for the famed alum of my favored university, this is where the 3-4 defense excels. If Roy Williams played like he did last week, (or in three full years at Oklahoma and two in Dallas with Woody by his side) Jay Ratliff continues to comfortably fill the Jason Ferguson void, and the Bears coaching staff proves too inflexible to alter their plan of attack they will likely be contained without too much irritation. Rex? He's the least of our problems. I don't know if anyone takes the time and stress to worry about Mr. Grossman, because quite frankly, he hasn't warranted that kind of respect.
If there's any team out there that can contend with the Bears in situations where the center doesn't hand the ball off to his QB, you'd have to think It's our own. The Cowboys have the best punter in football, a field goal kicker who has given no one any reason to doubt him, and a return game that has been consistently solid through two games. What I think will happen on punts: Mat McBriar either gives the ball an extraordinary amount of loft or kicks it completely away from Hester-perhaps even out of bounds. Kickoffs could be problematic, but we can feel comfortable maintaining faith in our boys.
Dallas is coming into a tough environment, playing a tough team, and may again be without four of their seasoned regulars. But they match up favorably with Chicago in enough ways for me to predict: