Scout's Eye: Bears-Cowboys review

September, 21, 2010
9/21/10
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Scout's Eye
Had a feeling that this would be a difficult game for the Cowboys against the Bears because I had a great deal of respect for their front seven on defense and how they would match up against the Cowboys on offense.

Where I thought the Cowboys would have the advantage was their ability to put this Bears’ offensive line in a bind and pressure Jay Cutler into mistakes, much like teams have done throughout his career. The Cowboys were able to do just that until a bust in coverage led to a huge play for the Bears on a “hot read” by Cutler to tight end Greg Olsen with 8:08 remaining in the second quarter.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz calls for an empty backfield with four wide receivers and one tight end. The Cowboys counter with “0” coverage -- man across the board and no free safety help in the middle of the field. Usually when Wade Phillips dials up a blitz, he likes to play “man free,” which is man across the board with a free safety in the middle of the field.

For the Bears, Olsen is lined up as the tight end on the right side of the formation. To his outside right is a receiver in the slot and Cowboys safety Alan Ball across from him in coverage. Outside of Olsen’s right shoulder is Anthony Spencer, who is in a two-point stance and ready to rush up the field. Inside for the Cowboys at linebacker are Bradie James and Keith Brooking.

On his Monday night radio program on ESPN 103.3 FM Dallas, James told Ben and Skin that he made an adjustment check to the formation he saw, but not everyone heard the check. What was strange is James is usually very vocal and emotional with his actions. This time, he didn’t appear that way.

When the ball was snapped, both James and Keith Brooking were rushing through the front side “A” gap until Brooking pulls back and jumps for the Cutler pass. The damage was already done with Olsen off to the races with ball in hand.

What had to be disappointing to the Cowboys coaches is that Ball, who has very good timed speed, was unable to bring Olsen down around the 11-yard line and Olsen was able to work his way into the end zone. From that point on, you did not see Phillips bring any all-out pressure like he did in the first quarter.

By my count, he blitzed only 10 more times the remainder of the game and never in the “all-out” style that he used in the first quarter, which was causing the Bears problems along the offensive front.
*It’s a head coach’s job to manage the game. It’s not always about kneeling down to end a half, kick a field goal or go for the first down on fourth down. It’s much more than that.

Wade Phillips made a decision along with Joe DeCamillis to try for a pooch kick to Bears defensive end Isreal Idonije, who plays as the left end in the second wedge on the kickoff return. I understand what Phillips was trying to do by making a player handle the football that is not accustomed to do that, but much like many things that have happened to the Cowboys in the 2010 season, the thought and idea might have been good but the execution very poor.

Instead of getting the ball to the 30-yard line where Idonije was standing and making him handle it, David Buehler pops the ball short to the 42 for the easy fair catch for Tim Jennings, giving the Bears the opportunity to work with a short field.

*The situation was third-and-5 from the Bears 26 with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter. The Bears were up three, 20-17.

Tony Romo is in the shot gun and has Tashard Choice to his right with linebacker Lance Briggs in coverage lined up over guard Leonard Davis. Jason Garrett dials up the perfect play for the situation with Choice swinging out of the backfield to the right, into the flat then up the field. Because of where Briggs is lined up, Choice has an advantage in the route.

As the play develops, Romo sees what he has to the outside, takes the football and with solid protection tries to hit Choice on the move up the field. Choice has space on Briggs, who is trying to close from the inside. But Choice has to slow up because Romo is unable to deliver the football in front of him.

If Choice catches the ball cleanly, he has a chance for a touchdown or a first down at the very least. The ball is low and behind Choice and falls incomplete. The next play, Buehler misses a 44-yard field goal wide left.

Execution in coverage, special teams and offense spelled doom for the Cowboys in this 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears.

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