Jay Cutler was on the ground more than his feet on the first three drives. The Bears lost starting left tackle Chris Williams early in the game and they brought veteran tackle Kevin Shaffer to take his spot. Shaffer was whistled for two false start penalties and the Bears made a slight adjustment to the line. They moved Frank Omiyale from right tackle to the left side and put Kevin Shaffer on the right side.
The coaches made a great move by switching the tackles on the line. They also used all three tight ends for blocking in this one, Brandon Manumaleuna, Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark. The tight ends did a solid job protecting Cutler and if the Cowboys line did get pressure on Cutler he was able to step up in the pocket and hit his receivers.
Cutler had a great day throwing three touchdowns, completing 21 of 29 passes for 277 yards. Cutler finished with a QB rating of 136.7. Cutler has posted four straight games with QB rating of 100 dating back to last season. Two of the four games came against the Lions, which we all know the Lions just aren’t that good.
The marriage of Jay Cutler and Mike Martz has looked great so far. Cutler seems like he knows where all of his receivers will be when he throws the ball. Martz has him utilizing his running backs in the passing game and his speedster receivers, Knox and Hester.
Speaking of Johnny Knox, he looked very good with his four catches for 86 yards. But his biggest play came when he caught a big 59 yard pass from Cutler, which helped the Bears put more points on the board. Devin Hester who was invisible last week, showed up this week and brought his A game. Hester had perhaps the best catch of his career. Earl Bennett got his first playing time of the year and he brought consistency to the game, making five catches and reeling in the onside kick try by the Cowboys in the 4th quarter. The leading receiver from last week Devin Aromashodu only played on special teams and no one really knows why Bears coaches benched him in favor of Bennett. It might be because Aromashodu dropped some catchable balls last week and they wanted a consistent receiver who could help them upset the Cowboys.
Hopefully will get some answers about the benching of Devin Aromashodu later this week.
The Bears were only 1-11 on third down conversions, but put up points in the red-zone and they scored off two of the three Cowboys turnovers.
Matt Forte and Chester Taylor were effective in the passing game again, but not so much in the running game. They averaged 2 yards per rush which was actually better than the Cowboys. Greg Olsen made the only catch by a tight end, when he took a short pass and run all the way into the end-zone in the first half.
Overall the offense surprised a lot of people by playing like they wanted to win. They played in sync and they took advantage of all the mistakes the Cowboys made. They were able to convert in the red-zone and because of that they looked they offense they dreamed of having with Jay Cutler running the show. They improved in both of the areas that they struggled in against Detroit, turnovers and red zone mistakes. They need to improve on third down, but besides that this offense has what it takes to be an elite offense in the NFL.
The Bears shut down the Cowboys three headed running attack. They allowed only 36 total rushing yards, but they allowed Dallas to convert six of 13 third downs and Tony Romo threw 374 yards. The defensive line was able to break up passes, but they didn’t get as much pressure as they wanted. Julius Peppers was close at times to bringing down Romo, but Romo was fast enough to scramble away. Israel Idonije and Mark Anderson didn’t get to Romo either, but they played conistent in the run game and they were able to break up some pass attempts. The line played well enough to stop the Cowboys, but they need to take it to the next level next week against Green Bay if they want to stop Aaron Rodgers.
The linebackers played great once again. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Pisa Tinoisamoa combined for 18 tackles. Urlacher recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter and Lance Briggs was able to deflect a big pass stopping a drive by Dallas. This unit just seems in sync and they are helping the rest of the defense play well. Urlacher and Briggs played well in coverage and that took the heat of the secondary, who lost Major Wright (hamstring) for the game.
Safeties Chris Harris and Danieal Manning played well they both had some big hits in this one, they didn’t do anything flashy per say, but they didn’t make the big mistake the Bears were used to seeing last season from their secondary. Urlacher’s presence has really brought this defense back to life. It seems like they might be back to the level they were at in 2006 and if they are it might be good for all the veterans on the defense. Those veterans don’t have many more years in the league and if they can put it together this season that could be a dream come true for them.
Again consistent cornerback Charles Tillman made a big play. Tillman forced a key fumble in the fourth quarter and we are used to seeing plays like that out of him. Tillman is just a crafty veteran, who consistently makes big plays when the Bears need one. Zack Bowman made eight tackles and he looked like a very solid corner back. Bowman didn’t completely shut down Miles Austin, but he didn’t let Austin take that next step and break one for a touchdown.
The biggest surprise of this defense came from nickelback, D.J. Moore. Moore was a third round pick last season out of Vanderbilt and was considered raw when the Bears drafted him. They let learn the playbook last year and this season they chose him over veteran Corey Graham for the starting nickelback spot and it looks like that was a great move. Moore works one on one with head Coach Lovie Smith everyday in practice and it showed against the Cowboys. Moore had two huge interceptions and he made the tackle on the Charles Tillman forced fumble. Look for Moore to get better as the season goes along, he is small, but he is fast and he knows where to go on defense. Moore was a big reason the Bears won this game.
They defense was able to force turnovers something we are used to seeing from the Chicago Bears. Lovie Smith always says if they can win the turnover battle they should be able to win the game. The defense was able to force three turnovers and the offense was mistake free. This defense looked like they were flying around all day and getting to the ball. If they made a mistake they were able to make the receiver pay by jacking them up. Chris Harris, Lance Briggs and D.J. Moore were all able to deliver big hits.
Consistency seems to be helping this defense, but they need more pressure from the defensive line next Monday night against Green Bay. Green Bay is relying on their passing game more than ever because running back Ryan Grant was lost for the season in week one. Peppers, Idonije, Anderson and Harris need to get pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers if they want to secure a victory and improve to 3-0. Harris by the way was invisible this week and he needs to step his game up or he might be replaced by Henry Melton or Marcus Harrison pretty soon. Overall, this defense was good enough to shut down Dallas, they should be able to do the same the rest of the season if they can be consistent as a unit.
Robbie Gould, who is always solid, made field goals from 38 yards and 40 yards out. Gould had some long kickoffs and that helped the Bears defense contain the Cowboys offense. Earl Bennett had a big catch in the fourth quarter on a onside kick try by the Cowboys. Devin Hester was pretty bad on punt returns and Danieal Manning did average on kick returns. The coverage unit on the other hand gave up a huge touchdown to rookie Dez Bryant in the first quarter. Bryant flew past safety Josh Bullocks and the rest of the Bears special teamers right into the endzone. Overall the special teams was pretty average on the day.
This might have been the best coaching performance of Lovie Smith’s career. With three former head coaches on staff with him, he was able to make the correct changes on offense to settle down the team. With Chris Williams being lost for the game, Kevin Shaffer was brought in at left tackle, but he struggled there so they moved him to right tackle and brought Frank Omiyale over to the left side.
They used tight ends more than ever to protect Cutler. They called zone plays on defense and blitzed just enough times to force Romo to make errors. The coaches are huge reason why the Bears were able to upset the Cowboys and they might be why this team will succeed this season. Look for another solid game plan for next week against Green Bay.