5 things to watch in the Cowboys-Bears game - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
Among those five things is a question about where the pressure on the Bears QB will come from.
Establishing a pass rush has ranked as a top storyline all off-season and training camp, and continues to be a hot topic. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is mixing and matching his defensive line as best he can, and for now that means Tyrone Crawford is expected to see more time at defensive end. Terrell McClain has emerged as a force as the three-technique tackle, allowing Crawford to move outside. That worked well late in the game at Washington, and needs to carry forward for a sack-starved team.
Figuring Out The D-Line Rotation - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys may have provided a preview of their starting D-line against the Bears when they moved Tyrone Crawford to DE and played Maliek Collins alongside Terrell McClain at defensive tackle against Washington.
I fully expect that we will see Tyrone Crawford make the start at left defensive end in this game. The question will be whether Jack Crawford starts on the right side, or will it once again be Benson Mayowa? My gut feeling is that it will be Mayowa with Crawford backing up both sides. Look for Terrell McClain and Maliek Collins at the tackle spots.
Sturm's Marinelli Report: Four DTs on the D-line? - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Earlier this week, Sturm took an in-depth look at the Cowboys defense, and marveled at the Cowboys' unusual defensive line.
So what team doesn't want to unleash their best pass-rush group? And what team would ever answer that question by sending out four defensive tackles? The Cowboys, of course. And Tyrone Crawford turns the corner and smashes Cousins for a huge sack.
I kind of wonder, if this keeps looking like this, if No. 98 is best played at the left defensive end spot with Maliek Collins and Terrell McClain inside and DeMarcus Lawrence on the other side. Weird to do that with that contract on Crawford, but Collins looks OK at 3-tech at times, and McClain may be the best player right now on this front.
Seven Things We're Thinking About The Cowboys Play In The Trenches - Jim Scott, Blogging The Boys
Scott explains that the real reason the Cowboys are able to reconfigure their defensive line on the fly is rookie DT Maliek Collins.
Tyrone Crawford would makes a good strong-side DE and he responded with pressure and a sack. But the move is largely possible because of the play of the other DTs. Terrell McClain has been everyone’s darling. Cedric Thornton has been a bit maligned but if you actually watch him he’s been quite good.
The player that really makes this possible, however, has been Maliek Collins. Having missed most of training camp, Collins was expected to ease his way in. Instead he’s proving a strong part of a strong rotational group and is allowing Dallas to use some of their more talented interior players to bolster the outside edge to good effect. He’s looking like a terrific pick, although his third-round pick was only seven spots behind Randy Gregory’s second round selection... so maybe our expectations should be more Kawann Short level than Khyri Thornton.
Cowboys vs. Bears: Five Things To Watch On Sunday - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys
Phantom likes the chances of the reconfigured defensive line against the Bears.
The Bears offensive line has given up eight sacks this season, which is worst in the NFL. They cannot protect anyone. This is great news for a Cowboys pass rush that struggles to put pressure on the quarterback. You won’t hear this very often, but the Cowboys have some favorable matchups in the trenches. Newly-assigned defensive end Tyrone Crawford will face the Bears most suspect blocker, right tackle Bobby Massie. If Crawford starts floating like a butterfly in his new role, this week could provide a great opportunity for the Cowboys pass rush.
And with Crawford moving outside, the rookie defensive tackle, Maliek Collins, will get a good dose of snaps on the inside. His partner in crime Terrell McClain is off to a great start this season and will face a rookie at center, second-round pick, Cody Whitehair. The Cowboys should be able to generate some pressure up the middle.
Mark Sanchez on Dak Prescott: 'This dude's cool' - Todd Archer, ESPN
Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez is impressed with rookie Dak Prescott's poise and quick adjustment to the NFL.
"His ability to pick things up and to adjust and then also his mental approach and his demeanor, this dude’s cool, man," Sanchez said. "He doesn’t flinch. And that’s tough for young guys, but he’s making checks. He’s adjusting protections. He’s changing routes. He’s signaling stuff. On the road, it’s loud, we’re down three in the fourth quarter and it’s like he’s doing it 100 times in practice. That’s really it. He’s taking the practice reps to the field and he doesn’t let the environment or anything else factor in to what he’s got to accomplish."
From bust to breaking out: Cowboys’ Claiborne ready to rise again - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne was once so low in his injury-riddled career that he walked away from the team. This excellent article from Hill details Claiborne's struggles and how he fought back from that low point. Read it, you won't regret it.
"Experiences can make or break you," Dez Bryant said. "They made him. They made him a better football player. He could have quit. But he didn’t do that. He has battled from a lot, physically and mentally. When you see a guy do that, you’ve got to give him credit. He is a beast. He wants to be heard."
Twitter mailbag: Dan Bailey security affecting Dallas Cowboys' red zone calls? - Todd Archer, ESPN
A reader wonders if the team's conservative play calls inside the 20 are due to Dan Bailey's consistency in kicking field goals.
My inclination is to say no, but Jason Witten said the No. 1 goal for an offense when it gets to the red zone is to score points. Any kind of them. So I do wonder if the fact that the Cowboys know they have 3 points sewn up because of Dan Bailey leads them to not take many chances down deep.
Scott Linehan talked about attacking the front and the back of the end zone but so far this season the only pass plays into the end zone from the red zone have been fades to Dez Bryant. As good as Bryant is in those jump ball situations, it's not a high percentage play. The best teams in the red zone run the ball in for touchdowns but that's not always easy. The Cowboys rely too much on the perimeter of the end zone for their plays. The windows are tighter down deep so maybe they don't want to force Dak Prescott to make back-line throws as much with so much traffic.
Cowboys vs. Bears: "Ezekiel Elliot runs for 200 yards." - Blogging The Boys
The fine fellows over at Windy City Gridiron answered a few questions about the Bears, and were not very optimistic about Chicago's ability to stop the run.
The Bears didn't have enough talent to fill 11 professional defensive starters last season so we'll see what a year of roster turnover has done for depth. My sense is it will be trouble as in addition to Goldman, three linebackers will miss the game as well (McPhee, Lamaar Houston, and Danny Trevathan). This may very well be the game Ezekiel Elliot runs for 200 yards (and Alfred Morris vultures 3 scores).
NostraButkus: 5 Bold Predictions for Chicago Bears vs Dallas Cowboys - FOX Sports
You'd think three of the five predictions are from Cowboys fans. They are not; this is what Bears fans are thinking.
1. The Cowboys will cruise on Sunday Night Football
3. Ezekiel Elliott will top 100 yards for the first time in his career
5. Dak Prescott will throw his first career touchdown
The Cowboys offense will have its way with the Bears’ banged up defense. Elliott’s solid game and Prescott’s effectiveness will be too much to overcome. The Bears may run the ball well, but Hoyer’s passing attack won’t exactly light the world on fire. The Bears offense will look a little better, but there simply will be too many issues to overcome. Final Score - Cowboys 27, Bears 16
Cowboys catch banged-up Bears at a good time - Amarillo Globe-News
A run-down of the defensive injury woes the Bears have to work through.
Although the Cutler injury grabs the headlines, the defense is hurting more. Linebacker Lamarr Houston tore a ligament in his left knee in the loss to the Eagles, and linebacker Danny Trevathan had thumb surgery this week. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman missed some practices after spraining an ankle against the Eagles. Safety Adrian Amos and nickel back Bryce Callahan went into the concussion protocol, and that’s just the short list.
NFL Betting Guide: Where's all the smart money going? - Micah Roberts, SportsLine.com
Have Cowboys fans been drinking the Kool Aid? Roberts seems to think so.
BEARS AT COWBOYS (-6.5, 44)
Brian Hoyer gets the start Sunday night and while he doesn't have Jay Cutler's physical attributes, the guy knows how to run an offense. He posted comparable numbers to Cutler last year in fewer games and won four of his last six regular-season games to lead the Texans to the playoffs. Cutler has led the Bears to one playoff berth in seven seasons. However, the Bears have lots of injuries on both sides of the ball and the Cowboys come in fired up after a big comeback win at Washington. Wise guys felt +7 was too much to give and took the Bears. The public absolutely loves the Cowboys in the perfect case of believing what they saw last as gospel.
The 10 best things about Sunday's Week 3 NFL games - Brett Pollakoff, FOX Sports
Of course, Roberts' take is just one among many. here, Pollakoff calls the Cowboys game the best bet against the spread.
Cowboys-Bears: You saw how the Bears looked against the Eagles last week, right? And after opening the season 1-1 against two divisional oponnents, this one will feel like a week off for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, who should have little trouble winning by double digits.
The 5 best NFL prop bets for Week 3: Ezekiel Elliott to get 100+ yards? - Brett Smiley, FOX Sports
More late betting advice.
Ezekiel Elliott rushing yards -- OVER 77.5
The Cowboys are facing a Chicago Bears defense that’s gotten absolutely decimated by injuries, particularly in places that makes them susceptible to getting steamrolled on the ground. Big run-stuffing nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle), linebacker Danny Trevathan (thumb surgery) and linebacker Lamarr Houston (torn ACL) are all out. That’s an unfixable problem for Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, particularly on a short week. I think the Cowboys offensive line revels in an opportunity to brutalize a susceptible front seven and gets Elliott his first 100-yard rushing game.
Jason Garrett, Vic Fangio renew acquaintance - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
In case you don't remember, current Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio interviewed in Dallas for the DC spot in 2011. The Cowboys eventually settled for Rob Ryan, but Garrett spoke highly of Fangio in this article from 2011.
"I’ve known Vic for a long time and I consider him a friend," Garrett said. "I think he’s one of the really gifted football minds that there is … We used to sit on the bus together and he used to tell me the ways of football and we’ve maintained a relationship for a long time. I have an immense amount of respect for him."