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The Dallas Cowboys take on the Chicago Bears tonight. In anticipation of the game, we talked to SB Nation Bears blog, Windy City Gridiron, for the state of things in Chicago.
Blogging The Boys: The Bears pass defense has been a real problem. What's going on back there?
Windy City Gridiron: They have problems all over their back 7. At corner, Charles Tillman is on IR, rookie Kyle Fuller has been dinged up, they've gone through a few nicklebacks, undrafted rookie Al Louis-Jean has been getting playing time filling in at both corner spots, and while I like his upside, he's not good now.
Their best coverage safety, Chris Conte, has been in and out of the lineup all season. When rookie Brock Vereen has been pressed into action, he's been playing like a 4th round rookie. Playing too deep in his zones, hesitant to come up, not trusting his instincts.
The linebacking unit has had injuries aplenty too. Lance Briggs has recently joined Peanut on IR. Strongside OLB Shea McClellin is a work in progress and gets lost in coverage at times. Recently they've been using undrafted rookie Christian Jones as a nickle linebacker and much like Loius-Jean, Jones has promise, but he's still prone to rookie mistakes.
BTB: The Bears offensive line gives up a lot of sacks. How much of an issue have they been for the team?
WCG: It's been rough. Their inability to protect Jay Cutler has affected the play calling and at times it seems like Marc Trestman is hesitant to call any long developing plays. Last year the Bears gave up 30 sacks for the season, they've allowed 30 this year through 12 games. The only offensive lineman to play in every game for the Bears is right guard Kyle Long.
BTB: Is Marc Trestman the man for the job in Chicago?
WCG: I don't know. I thought he was last year, but his offense has had issues all season long, the defense hasn't been good either, and while we're talking about the Bears' shortcomings, the special teams has been bad too. As an offensive guy, Trestman has to find a way to scheme around the injuries to his o-line. He has to be more creative in his play designs and he has to get Matt Forte the ball. He has 4 games left to prove he's the right man for the job. If there are any more embarrassing losses, I don't see him returning, but with Bears' management you never can tell.
BTB: Lance Briggs might have played his last game as a Bear. How much does that hurt the defense on Thursday? How do you feel about maybe never having Briggs back as a Bear?
WCG: Briggs was still the Bears best linebacker this season. He has a high football IQ and he uses that to make up for his lost speed and quickness. But with that being said, his replacement. Jon Bostic, is a fast and athletic player that fits the mode of a weakside linebacker. I doubt Briggs was coming back in 2015 anyway, so by him going to IR, it just gives 2nd year pro Bostic a head start on his development.
I'm a fan of what Briggs gave the Bears on the field, he made 7 straight Pro Bowls and he was one of the best 4-3 OLBs of his time. It's a shame that many fans are soured on his legacy by the last couple of injury plagued seasons.
BTB: Will the Bears commit to the run this week with Matt Forte?
WCG: That's been the talk all week after the debacle in Detroit. They called 51 pass plays to just 7 run plays. I know the West Coast Offense uses the short pass in place of the run, but the short pass does nothing to set up play action passing. Cutler is pretty good when running play action partly because play action allows the Bears to move the pocket a little. With their shaky pass protection, moving the pocket is needed. Also running the ball will prevent the Cowboy pass rushers from completely ignoring the run. Last week Detroit's defensive line basically pass rushed on every snap. As the game wore on they got to Cutler more and more.