SB Nation Chicago got together to talk about the Bears' Monday night meeting with the Dallas Cowboys.
I think it's Chicago's undying love for the Bears which leads us to reconsider them as a whole after every botched third down conversion or Tim Jennings interception. This probably isn't fair. The Bears, through three weeks, look far from a finished product, something that can probably be said accurately about nearly every team in the NFL. This isn't good enough for Chicago. We're impatient.
When the Bears traded for Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush, Jason Campbell and Alshon Jeffery joined as reinforcements, many people in this fair city immediately started dreaming of a Super Bowl. Thing is: success in the NFL ain't easy to come by. Nearly every team is well coached and unless you employ a quarterback of the Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady-variety, talent is spread relatively evenly throughout the league. The NFL is designed to make you bite your nails, or sometimes wish you did something more productive with your leisure time. Achievement in the NFL does not come cheap, and it certainly doesn't come without a lot of luck. As the Bears have gotten out to a 2-1 start, we still find ourselves largely disappointed. Jay Cutler hasn't been good enough, the offensive line is still a huge issue, the new-look receiving corps has yet to set the league ablaze, ect.
O'Donnell: Bears Vs. Cowboys: A Look Ahead To Week 4
Truth is, the Bears are a team in transition right now. Instead of bemoaning a lack of style points or questioning Cutler's gut, Chicago should be thanking the stars its football team has only lost once through three weeks. There's plenty of time to right the ship, to get that passing game locked tight. While Cutler and the Bears work through their third offensive coordinator in four years and adjust to the new weapons, wins are really all that matter.
Tonight's game vs. the Dallas Cowboys feels huge even if these Bears have plenty of schedule left in front of them to truly determine their own worth. The difference between 3-1 and 2-2 is palpable, especially as the Minnesota Vikings prove to be a dark horse threat in the division. Will the Bears beat Dallas? It really feels like a coin flip. Both teams are led by erratic quarterbacks, both teams rush the passer and have spotty offensive lines. The Bears shined last time they came to the JerryDome, and this Bears squad is better on paper. Still: it's easier to envision Cutler getting sacked 100 times and once again underwhelming in primetime than it is to picture the Bears setting Dallas on fire with an aerial attack. I expect nothing short of a suspenseful game decided in the last five minutes. Impossible to say which way it will go.
Prediction: Bears in a close one.
Steve von Horn
Have you ever heard of Jonathan Scott
? He's the guy waiting behind left tackle J'Marcus Webb
, and his time may come on Monday night. This feels like Webb's last chance to prove he deserves the LT job. Webb has been doing a decent enough job of proving (?) to Tice that he shouldn't be removed from the starting lineup, but at some point it's not about avoiding consecutive terrible games, it's about piling up good ones.
There isn't much evidence
to suggest Webb is turning a corner, so I wouldn't be surprised if Tice finally decides to pull the plug on his pet project -- at least for the time being. Cutler seems to always have one eye on his blind side when he drops back, so there isn't much trust left in the on-field relationship with Webb anyways. Chris Williams has been in doghouse with Tice for quite a while, so Scott feels like the next man up at LT.
felt comfortable enough to start the now six-year NFL veteran at tackle for 15 games over the last two seasons (including three playoff games), so there's a reason GM Phil Emery jumped at the chance to add Scott to the roster in September. Any in-game LT move probably won't mean good things for the Bears in Week 4, but it could help going forward.
Prediction: J'Marcus Webb gets pulled at some point in the game.
Everything everyone says about this game is right. The Romo = Cutler narrative is totally spot on. We're not quite at a crossroads in this season yet, but Monday is obviously an early test for both teams.
If you're a Bears fan, you should want to see a competitive -- but maybe more importantly, competent -- game. If the Bears lose, they lose. But if they want to be taken even slightly seriously as a contender, they can't bottem out on national television -- again. Go down fighting, be proud of how you play.
Prediction: Cowboys (close game)
I'm most curious about the Bears rushing attack against a somewhat unheralded Cowboys rush defense. Everyone knows how nasty and "real" DeMarcus Ware
is and how, unlike in years past, the 'Boys have an actual secondary and not a couple of ineffectual ladybugs buzzing around the other team's receivers. Still, the run-stopping of this Dallas squad has gone under the radar thus far. They fell into a deep and early hole at Seattle (where hopes and dreams apparently go to die) and Marshawn Lynch, et al, pounded out 188 net rushing yards on 44(!) carries, but aside from being stomped in Seattle, the Cowboys' defense has contained a very game Giants
rushing attack in Week 1 and chained Tampa's rookie sensation Doug Martin
to a Franklin Stove
in Week 3.
So really, the burden of proof is on whatever Bears (Michael Bush, right? Forte is still out? Ricky?) are going to be pounding through the tackles against this Dallas defense. The Bears rushing attack has been steady (and steadily improving) but if we're talking about not laying yet another egg in prime time, it's gonna be about the Bears offense finding a hole in this chain mail of a Dallas defense.
My prediction is same from Friday: Dallas 28, Chicago 24
Besides the Cutler : Romo :: Apple : Smilier Apple thing, I find it almost weird how similar these teams are in general.
- Shitty pass protection? Check.
- Pretty cool receiving cores? Check.
- Front-sevens that want to make you Take your shirt off, twist it 'round yo' hand [and] Spin it like a helicopter? Check.
- Running backs that are ACL tearing good? Check. (Assuming Forte plays.)
- Secondaries playing inspired football? Check.
- Fan bases extremely unsure of their squad despite matching 2-1 records? Double Check.
The lame saying "you're only as strong as your weakest link" may actually resonate here. This game will come down to whomever has the stronger o-line for 60 minutes. If one can protect their quarterback from blunt force trauma to the head, they will probably win. The score may not even be close, actually.
Basing my prediction solely on how the Bears' o-line performed on the road in New Orleans last year and Green Bay two weeks ago, I'm going to go with the Cowboys to win this one. The game will (unofficially) end with 30 seconds left on the clock when Cutler throws a pick as he's being pressured from his blind side.
Prediction: Cowboys 24, Bears 17
Although this will make me sound like Herm Edwards, tonight's game comes down to turnovers. (Imagine that at 110 decibels and you have Herm.) Both QBs have a proclivity for the killer pick, and whoever throws less of them shall probably win.
I look at it another way from the Bears' perspective, though. If they score first, they will win. The Jekyll and Hyde-iness of this offense is such that it is explosive when playing with a lead and explosive diarrhea when coming from behind (ha.) Hostile environment, forced to pass, DeMarcus v. JaMarcus... eek. Let us hold hands and pray that the Bears score early and can feature the run game prominently.
Prediction: Bears 27 - Cowboys 23 (I am such a homer)