After the Cowboys mistake-laden performance on Sunday night, which resulted in a loss to division rival Washington, it seems the media - us at BTB included - have almost forgotten that it was week 1, and there is a game this Sunday; a match up against the Chicago Bears that will be played at Cowboys Stadium.
So, instead of continuing to harp on about the loss, I've decided to write up a preview of the game this Sunday, and have included one thing to watch for on each side of the football.
First, let's take a look at what the Bears like to do on offense...
The Bears have drastically changed their offensive identity from four years ago when they made it to the Super Bowl by playing smash-mouth football and running it down their opponents' throats.
Now, the Bears offense is run by passing enthusiast Mike Martz.
Martz's offense is a timing offense that involves quarterbacks throwing to a spot, instead of to a receiver. It relies heavily on timing and accuracy on the part of the quarterback and crisp route running from the receivers. The offense can be very successful with the right pieces in place. (Jason Garrett runs a variation of this offense, handed down from Norv Turner when he was a Cowboys offensive coordinator).
The Bears have the right pieces to run Martz's offense successfully - a talented quarterback and agile receivers that can get in and out of their breaks quickly. What they don't have, however, is experience in the system. Martz was hired this past offseason, and has even said himself that his offense is complicated and takes two full seasons until players fully understand it.
This plays right into the hands of the Cowboys, as they will be facing the Bears in just the second week of the season. There will be miscues and mistakes made by quarterback Jay Cutler and his young receiving core. It's up to the Cowboys defense to take advantage of these miscues - because there will certainly be a number of them.
While the running game takes a back seat in Martz's offense, the running backs are still very much involved in the offense. They are regularly involved in the passing game. Martz will use a lot of motion from his receivers to draw the attention away from his tail backs, leaving them in favorable match ups against linebackers that are not equipped to run with such speedy players, eg., Matt Forte and Chester Taylor.
The Bears will only be able to score points if the Cowboys defense allows them to gain chunks of yards from big plays. Their offensive line is too porous, their receivers too inexperienced and their quarterback takes too many chances. Long drives will be difficult to sustain for the Bears.
What to watch for: The mobility of Jay Cutler.
Cutler isn't a running quarterback, but he will take off if he spots an open lane. Martz will also move Cutler around, as he knows the offensive line will have trouble holding up against the likes of Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.
Defensively, the Bears are going to play a lot of cover-2, cover-3,sit seven back in coverage, and let their front four go to work and make some plays in the backfield
Doug Free is going to be tested thoroughly by right defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers athletic prowess is second to none in the NFL, and when in form, can take over a game, a la Vikings vs. Panthers, 2009. And with Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier either being out or just returning from injury, Free will not be getting much help.
With Brian Urlacher finally healthy again, the Bears are going to be tough to run against. Urlacher adds a dimension to the Bears that they do not have without him: a linebacker that can take on fullbacks and guards, shed them and make the tackle in the hole.
Jason Garrett will likely call more off-tackle runs, in an attempt to avoid Urlacher. If Marc Colombo returns at 100 percent, expect a lot of these runs to go to the right side, so to avoid Peppers as well.
The Bears are weak at the safety position. Chris Harris, the free safety, takes poor angles to the ball and can be fooled by the play-action. Garrett and Romo will try to isolate athletic players against him that will be able to make plays after the catch, such as, Martellus Bennett and Felix Jones.
What to watch for: How the Bears fare against spread wide receiver sets.
The starting two cornerbacks for the Bears (Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman) are solid players, but behind them there isn't much depth, or talent. Garrett will probably call a lot of spread looks early to see how the Bears defense handles them.