Deep passes will be key in MNF matchup
December, 9, 2013
By Rob Nelson | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh Josh McCown has excelled in the starting role thanks in large part to his success on deep throws.
Because the Eagles beat the Lions Sunday, the winner of Monday’s game will be tied atop their division. Let's take a look at some of the key matchups for the Week 14 edition of Monday Night Football between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
Josh McCown’s deep ball vs Cowboys defense
While filling in for the injured Jay Cutler, Josh McCown has posted a Total QBR of 78.4, second best in the NFL. McCown’s success has a lot to do with his deep throws. McCown has completed 51.7 percent of his passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield this season, second only to Russell Wilson. McCown has had most of his success when targeting Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, who have combined to catch 12 of his 15 completions on deep throws.
The Cowboys’ ability to stop opposing quarterbacks on deep throws has had a direct impact on whether or not they win the game. In their seven wins, opposing quarterbacks have completed 34.7 percent of their passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield and posted a Total QBR of 34.0. In the Cowboys five losses, opposing quarterbacks have a nearly perfect 99.8 Total QBR, mostly due to a 66.7 completion percentage on deep throws.
Tony Romo’s deep ball vs Bears defense
Through the first five weeks of the season, Tony Romo was tied with Drew Brees for the best Total QBR on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield (99.5). Romo was averaging a league-high 18.7 yards per attempt on such throws. But lately, Romo has been unable to find the same success on deep throws. In his last seven games, Romo has a Total QBR of 51.6 on deep balls, 28th among qualified passers.
Romo will look to return to early season form as he goes against a Bears defense that has struggled defending deep passes.
The Bears have allowed a league-high 99.1 Total QBR and 57.1 completion percentage on passes thrown 15 or more yards this season.
DeMarco Murray’s inside running vs Bears defense
The strength of DeMarco Murray this season has been running inside. Murray has averaged 5.2 yards per rush on runs inside the tackles this season, fifth best in the NFL. He has averaged nearly a yard more per rush on those runs than he has on runs outside the tackles.
Murray could exploit a Bears defense that has struggled to stop the inside run.
The Bears have allowed 4.9 yards per rush on runs inside the tackles, third worst in the NFL. Since 2006, the Bears have never had a season in which they allowed more than 4.3 yards per rush on such runs. Since Lance Briggs was injured in Week 7, the Bears have allowed over 100 yards on runs inside the tackles in all five games. The Bears had allowed over 100 such rushing yards twice in their first seven games when Briggs was active.