Thursday Night Will Test Bears Rush Defense
This space has mentioned often of late the Bears climb in the defensive rankings from 32nd in 2013 to 12th in 2014 against the run. It is the most significant improvement of this year’s team, owed to a much improved defensive line. Per the great Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News:
…this December has a chance to be different because the Cowboys are equipped to play a game they haven’t known since the Super Bowl era.
When the weather turns in December — the cold blows in, the wind kicks up and moisture thickens the air — you need to run the football.
The Jimmy Johnson Cowboys ran the ball in December in carving a place in history as the NFL’s team of the 1990s. From 1992-95, when the Cowboys appeared in four NFC title games and won three Super Bowls, they ran the ball almost 52 percent of the time in the month of December.
The Jason Garrett Cowboys have run the ball only 41 percent of the time in the final month of the season in his four seasons.
Sure, the Cowboys had both the best running back and best offensive line in the NFL during their Super Bowl era. Emmitt Smith won three NFL rushing titles from 1992-95, and the Cowboys sent six different blockers to Pro Bowls.
And that’s why there is hope for December 2014. The Cowboys again have arguably the best running back and offensive line in the NFL.
Even though the Bears secondary has been a disgrace in 2014 I expect the Cowboys to put this game on Demarco Murray’s shoulders to avoid putting it on Tony Romo’s back. Can the Bears defense hold up? (I’m actually borderline interested in this result.)
Dallas Defense vs. Bears Offense
The Dallas defense isn’t any good and they are concerned about facing the Chicago Bears offense. From another piece in the Dallas Morning News:
The Cowboys need to right the ship quickly on defense to keep their playoff hopes alive.
They will have their hands full trying to contain big receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte.
Those four combined for 395 of Chicago’s 490 total yards against the Cowboys a year ago.
The Cowboys’ cornerbacks will be at a height disadvantage against the Bears. The 6-0 Brandon Carr and 5-10 Orlando Scandrick will be challenged by Chicago’s 6-3 Jeffery and 6-4 Marshall.
This last paragraph could have been written about every set of corners the Bears have faced this season. To this point, it hasn’t amounted to much.
Jurko of ESPN 1000 Tweeted this yesterday:
#Bears WR’s are not in the top 10 receiving combinations in the league. Preseason we all said they were the best #wewerewrong
The problem has not been Alshon Jeffery, who has emerged once again as a star since recovering from injury. Jeffery is going to finish the year with around 90 catches, more than 1,110 yards and around 10 touchdowns. The problem has been his counterpart on the other side, Brandon Marshall, who has seen his season slowly drifting down the drain.
The Bears have only lost one primetime game at Soldier Field in the last decade. (And they were underdogs several times.) And that game has the infamous luxury of being remembered for two reasons: Brett Favre’s “last” game and Rex Grossman’s “New Year’s Eve” comments. Other than that one evening the Bears have been perfect at home in the cold air of December evenings.