Three weeks into the 2012 season and the Bears' offense is amongst the worst in the NFL and on Monday Night will face one of the best defenses. The Dallas Cowboys lead the league in total defense, and are second overall in pass defense and are likely to be more than up to the task of shutting down the Bears.
What will it take for the Bears to find some semblance of offensive momentum in this game? The improvement the Bears would have to make on offense from last week's ineptitude to this week's match up against the Cowboys would have to be something short of miraculous. This isn't an overstatement, rather an indictment of the match up problems the Cowboys bring to the table for the Bears.
On defense the Cowboys do best precisely what the Bears have trouble against the most. The match up problem starts with J'Marcus Webb being the guy who has to block the best defensive player in the NFL in DeMarcus Ware. From there the way Rob Ryan attacks with his multiple front defenses only complicates things for an offensive line that has been overwhelmed by exotic pressure looks.
This Dallas defense blitzes a lot, and blitzes well and does it from all angles of the field. They stunt off their blitzes they bring delayed blitzes they do everything that the Bears have proven unable to handle.
To give you an idea of how bad the Bears have been on offense, they have faced 19 situations where they have been faced with 3rd down and 10-plus situation through the first three games. Beyond that they've faced 22 possessions in which they've been at 3rd down and 9 or less and have yet to face a 3rd and 4 and only one 3rd and 3 situation on the season.
Jay Cutler is second to the last in the NFL in passer rating, ahead of rookie Ryan Tannehill and the offense is 26th overall in 3rd down conversion percentage. Everything the Bears were supposed to improve up on this season, they have yet to do so and yet they find themselves at 2-1.
So what can the Bears do to find offensive success against this Cowboys defense? Simple bring out two TEs and finally establish the run on offense on first and second down.
Mike Tice has been very Mike Martz like through the first three games, passing on first down more than rushing on first down. With Forte and Bush that type of play-calling has to change or else the Bears could find themselves repeating the same problems.
The Bears need to try running more out of a base two TE set, rather than passing out of a three WR set. Forcing teams to bring another DB down into the box to contend with a seven man blocking front will finally open things up in the passing game.
Pulling a safety down in run support to deal with a two TE rushing attack will deny the Cowboys the ability to play 2-man in the secondary. Thus generating single man coverage for Marshall who should then have the type of game we've come to expect.
With that said I fully expect this game to be a defensive struggle for the Bears. The offense versus defense match up for the Bears in this and the scheme favors the Cowboys by a large margin. Cutler is going to have to protect the football and the Bears are going to have to keep it close in order to come out with a win.