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.
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.
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.