Heading into their week 4 match up against the Dallas Cowboys the Chicago Bears had one thing sticking out in their mind above all others, how do you stop DeMarcus Ware. The Cowboys came into the game rated as the number one defense overall in terms of total yards allowed per game.
On offense the Bears were on the opposite end of the spectrum rating 24 in total offense in the NFL. Most people likely didn't expect the Bears to move the ball as efficiently as they did on offense in this game. Instead the Bears found a way to get it done, or did they?
Is there more to the story behind why Jay Cutler performed at such a high level and the Bears protected Cutler so well? I checked out the All-22 coaches tape to find out what type of pressures the Cowboys brought and how the Bears blocked it.
Watching the Cowboys on tape against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers I came to one conclusion, Jay Cutler was likely going to get his head torn off in this game against the Cowboys. The defense in that game brought pressure from many angles across many multiple man fronts with a lot stunts to confuse and disrupt.
The game play for Rob Ryan's defense would be simple blitz and confuse and pressure Cutler and the Bears offense into oblivion. This strategy has worked extremely well the last three seasons for most defenses that have faced the Bears' offense. The Packers did well in game two, and the Rams imitated it, although to a lesser extent with decent results.
The Cowboys however, all but completely backed away from this strategy in the Monday night game. It was almost as if Rob Ryan had become gun shy and decided NOT to attack the Bears offense the way teams typically do so successfully.
Ryan and the Cowboys relied on the four-man rush to generate pressure on Cutler and rarely did they succeed. Even more confusing was the lack of creativity with the pressure the Cowboys did bring. Not much in the way of stunting linemen or blitzers, instead a blitz here to this gap that was usually picked up by Forte or Matt Spaeth.
The Cowboys lack of a creative pass rush scheme cost them dearly, as Cutler found a rhythm and torched them going 12 for 13 for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. A head scratching strategy that no doubt will leave Rob Ryan wondering if he could have done more to slow down Cutler.
Now I do have to continue to give credit to Mike Tice for the game plan he brought to the table to slow down the expected Cowboys blitz. Tice kept in Matt Spaeth to help block as well as Forte to help pick up any blitzers that may have come late.
He also used quick short patterns to the receivers and a lot of motion to free up Brandon Marshall in coverage. Marshall lined up a lot of time in the slot or would motion inside the numbers to lessen the coverage pressure from the two deep safeties. This allowed Cutler to find Marshall in space and for him to do a lot of yards after catch damage.
Tice even sprung Marshall open on the same underneath crossing pattern for 56 yards on two receptions.
The first example of this play is here:
The play has a simple concept, Kellen Davis runs off the coverage with a deep corner route and Marshall breaks inside on the cross and Cutler hits him with a quick pass that Marshall takes for big YAC.
Tice runs the same play again in the fourth quarter that Marshall takes in for a 31-yard touchdown.
The short passing routes really devastated the Cowboys secondary and allowed Cutler to find the rhythm with Brandon Marshall lost since the opener.
Cutler had arguably his best game in a Bears uniform and Tice showed teams another aspect of the offense that teams will have to game plan for moving forward.