Every week, DeMarcus Ware is a key to what the Cowboys do. We know it, the rest of the league knows it, offensive coordinators know it. He's one of the finest football players to ever walk on a field. But in this game, with the way the Bears offense has operated thus far, he could dominate the game.
The matchup of Ware versus J'Marcus Webb, or more precisely, Ware and the way Rob Ryan uses him versus Webb and a host of help-blockers, will go a long way towards deciding this game.
Webb was the guy Jay Cutler verbally blasted in the Packers game. The Packers pass rush devoured Cutler on that day, and Webb was a leading culprit. Then this past week, assistant coach Mike Tice lit into him for his technique. It's been a rough few weeks for the Bears left tackle, and this week it gets harder.
Television cameras caught Tice yelling a few expletives at Webb during the Bears 23-6 victory over the Rams. On Thursday, Webb explained what went wrong. "(Tice) was mad about me getting out of my stance and (not) finishing on a guy,'' Webb said. "I needed to get out of my stance — which is footwork — and then finish on him, which is about using my hands. I just got myself into trouble on that particular time.''
Webb, who was responsible for three of the seven sacks allowed against the Packers in Week 2 — when Jay Cutler berated him — can't afford too many hiccups Monday night at Cowboys Stadium.
Given that, the Bears won't be leaving Webb on an island against Ware.
Webb got help from running back Kahlil Bell in blocking defensive end Robert Quinn. The tackle also was assisted by both center Roberto Garza and tight end Matt Spaeth on one occasion. "We wanted to make sure we had enough bodies on (Quinn) because he is a good player,'' Webb said. "It helped out our offensive tremendously.''
In general, expect Chicago to use max-protect schemes in plentiful portions throughout the game. When Ware gets Webb in a one-on-one situation, he needs to take advantage because that will be a rare opportunity. More than likely, Ware will see Webb and another Bear, but that will give other Cowboys pass rushers (Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher) opportunities to exploit one-on-one matchups. Even in max-protect, it's hard to double everyone, especially when the defense blitzes.
Want to know how important max-protect should be for Chicago?
Cutler is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (6), and has thrown five of those INTs in his last two outings. According to ESPN Stats & Information, five of Cutler’s picks came when the Bears operated out of formations involving three or more receivers. What’s more is Cutler has been sacked once in every 8.3 dropbacks through the first three games out of those formations, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Release the hounds if they go with passing sets on offense. Complicating the Bears' issues on offense are the fact that they have really struggled on first downs. They are dead last in the NFL with only 3.32 yards per first down play. The Cowboys defense is first in the league on defense for first downs, allowing only 3.78 yards per play. That leads to a lot of 2nd and longs, and 3rd and longs.
That's when DeMarcus Ware can go to work. Either by getting to Cutler or by drawing so much attention that others are getting to him, and forcing the Bears to keep in blockers instead of sending them out in the pattern. The Cowboys secondary can cover in 2012, and the fewer receivers on the field, the better off they should be. Cutler's terrible 52.9 passer rating on third down certainly doesn't help the Bears' cause.
I'm watching Ware on Monday, if he's doing his normal thing, I like the Cowboys' chances.