Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Adams

Grudge Match: Bears-Cowboys

September, 18, 2010
Cowboys offensive line vs. Bears front seven: In my view, this is where the game will be won or lost. If the Cowboys are able to control the Bears' front seven, they will take this football game. But if they struggle with the movement of the defensive line and the aggressiveness of the linebackers, then they are in for a real fight.

Last week against the Lions, Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli were aggressive. Was this game plan trying to put more pressure on second-year starter Mathew Stafford, or was this just Bears football for 2010?

Smith and Marinelli have a decision to make Sunday. Do they blitz Tony Romo and allow the secondary to play in coverage, or do they allow just their front four to supply the pressure?

The Bears like to slant their front and get their players on the move. They don't want to stand in there and fight you toe to toe. The type of defenders that give Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode the most problems are those who are on the move. They struggle with quick defenders who can attack the edges. The type that will rush you down the middle are the guys that Davis and Gurode can handle all day.

The longer that Gurode and Davis have to sustain their blocks, the harder it is to move their feet and stay in front of the defender. The Bears have two guys like this in Anthony Adams and Tommie Harris. Adams and Harris like to get up the field. They like to try and put pressure on you right away.

You can take advantage of this front in the running game if you manage to catch them on the slant or in movement and take the ball behind it. The Bears can make you look bad if you do not adjust to secure the blocks.

Cowboys linebackers vs, Matt Forte: Against the Lions last week, Forte made two huge plays out of the backfield in the passing game. Those plays were the difference in the Bears' win.

Forte has deceptive speed and his running style is that of a slasher. He was timed in 4.44 at Tulane. He has a burst in the open field and he shows the ability to separate from defenders.

The Cowboys' linebackers must have good technique and be responsibly sound in coverage. A step late in coverage could result in a huge play.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz likes to run his receivers down the field to clear defenders, then run the back out of the backfield on the swing. On the game-winning touchdown, Martz had Forte swing out of the backfield going left up the sideline, resulting in a beautiful, adjusting catch.

Where the Cowboys have to be alert is if Martz decides he wants to use Forte on screens to try to slow this Cowboys rush down. Keith Brooking and Anthony Spencer are the best cover linebackers -- with Bradie James showing improvement in training camp.

I don't believe that the Bears will physically be able to move the ball on the ground because of their offensive line, so where the defense has to be sound is in not allowing Forte to make big plays in the passing game.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler vs. Cowboys pass rushers: Jay Cutler led the NFL with 26 interceptions last season. One of the biggest problems that Cutler faces is his poor ball security.

There were several plays against the Lions where he felt pressure and for no reason at all flung the ball down the field without direction or regard for what might happen. With Cutler, it doesn't matter -- in the field of play or in the red zone, he is prone to mistakes.

When he feels pressure, he is at his worst. To him, a play is never dead, and instead of taking the sack and live to fight another play, he compounds the situation.

I really see the Bears struggling to block this Cowboys front. DeMarcus Ware and Spencer can create pressure from the outside on tackles Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale, who will struggle with their power and speed. Jay Ratliff will be solid against center Olin Kreutz, who is a fighter but not much else. Kruetz gets by on more guts than anything else.

If the Cowboys can control the running game of the Bears, play solid on the outside against these speedy receivers and not allow Cutler to feel comfortable, there is a good chance for turnovers because this quarterback will be careless. Pressure will lead to mistakes; it is his history.

Scout's Eye: Bears-Cowboys preview

September, 17, 2010
Scout's Eye
The Cowboys will face a defense that will present them a different set of challenges as opposed to what they faced last week in Washington.

Lovie Smith and former Lions head coach Rod Marinelli have once again hooked up and continue to put the Bears in the Tampa 2 scheme that they ran with great success for the Buccaneers under Tony Dungy.

In 2009, the Bears were a banged up defense and struggled without several key members in the lineup. This year, with the addition of Julius Peppers from Carolina, it gives them a much more dynamic pass rusher than you have to deal with off the edge.

Peppers tends to play the open side of the formation which is away from the tight end, so a matchup against just one of the offensive tackles is possible if the Cowboys want to set the formation to one side or the other. Peppers is one of those defenders that doesn’t give you much of a hitting surface when blockers set on him. He has shown the ability to dip his shoulder and work underneath the tackle. He can be explosive from the backside as Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford learned.

Peppers does a nice job in the running game because he is difficult to hook or reach. He has very long arms and he uses them to keep blockers off him as he works down the line and into the backfield.

At the other end is Mark Anderson. Anderson is not a bulky player, but he is very quick. When Smith and Marinelli slant this line, Anderson is a problem to block on the move because he is a feel for how to beat blocks.

Anderson is the type of player that just keeps coming at you. He doesn’t want to fight these tackles toe to toe, so he needs to be on the move.

The type of player that tends to give Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis fits are the ones with quick movement off the snap. Davis and Gurode will struggle because they have to move their feet and extend the blocks. It’s the big inside guys that try to bull rush them that tends to be easier for them to block. The Bears have two of these types of players inside. Tommie Harris and Anthony Adams are both quick, up-the-field guys. Their game is based on movement more than strength.

The linebackers for the Bears are a veteran group. Brian Urlacher was throwing his body around. Lance Briggs was effective on the blitz, causing a turnover on the Lions’ 1, and Pisa Tinoisamoa can really run. This group was very active attacking the Lions.

That’s understandable because of a second-year quarterback at the controls for Detroit. It will be interesting if they try to blitz Tony Romo and allow this secondary the responsibility of playing coverage.

It’s a Cover 2 look (safeties on the hash) with the corners playing short and the safeties behind. The Bears secondary will also use a technique of the corners turning their rears to the sideline and trying to funnel the receivers inside. In the Cover 2 look as well, you will a see deep drop by Urlacher in the middle of the field.

Romo always talks about patience when playing a Cover 2 team and taking what they give you.

Charles Tillman is the better of the two corners. Zackary Bowman was picked on by the Lions. I would think that the Cowboys might do the same.

*The Bears on offense were able to move the ball on the Lions, but turnovers and red zone problems allowed to Lions to hang in the game and even have a chance to win it in the end.

The Bears will struggle to block the Cowboys’ front. Tackles Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale will have a difficult job of blocking DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in the passing game.

Williams is the better player here because he plays with some strength. Omuyale just doesn’t play with much upper- or lower-body strength at all. You see him come out of his stance then get worked back. He is always fighting just to sustain his block. The Bears will chip with their backs out of the backfield.

At center for the Bears is veteran Olin Kreutz, who is an old-school type of player. Kreutz is one of those guys who skills have left him, but he gets by because he has the ability to hold, trip and clip. Kreutz will have his hands full with Jay Ratliff. Ratliff just plays with too much quickness for Kreutz, who will have a hard time adjusting.

The Bears might not have big names at wide receiver, but what they do have is a group that can really run. Johnny Knox is a 4.29, Devin Hester a 4.41 and Devin Aromashodu a 4.35.

Knox is a smooth route runner that will go all over the field to catch the ball, Hester is outstanding in the open field with the ball in his hands, but the interesting player to me is Aromashodu. This player can cover some ground on the outside and does a nice job in the slot. In the Lions game, Cutler was going to him more than the other receivers.

It will be interesting if the Cowboys try to press these receivers and not allow free access in the routes. If the secondary can hold up on the outside, it will make Cutler have to face this pass rush and the possibility to creating turnovers. In the Lions game there were several times where Cutler was under pressure and just unloaded the ball.

Running back Matt Forte had two huge plays in the passing game for the Bears that resulted in touchdowns. Forte’s running style is that of a slasher. If he had a problem in the Lions game, it was his inability to punch it in from the 1, but the Bears really didn’t do a very good job of securing the hole. The Bears like to pull guards in short yardage, which was a big problem against the Lions. The Cowboys need to be careful in this game not to allow Forte to have a similar game to what he did against the Lions.