Bears vs Cowboys: 10 Keys to the Game for Dallas
After watching the Cowboys limp to victory against the Bucs, fans should be a little worried about Dallas going forward.
This coming Monday, the Bears will travel to Cowboys stadium in a Monday Night Football matchup that will feature two 2-1 ball clubs.
Dallas flirted with disaster before finally putting the Bucs to bed on Sunday while the Bears mauled the Rams behind a 13-point fourth quarter.
I'm sure that the Cowboys would like to record a victory before heading into their bye week, but it will be tough. Chicago has a pretty good rushing attack, and defensively, they only allow 200 passing yards per game.
Here are 10 keys to victory for the Cowboys on Monday night.
Stopping the Bears' Rush Attack
The Bears grinded out 114 yards on the ground in Week 1, 94 against the Packers in Week 2 and 103 versus the Rams last week.
Three is a considered a trend so Dallas should buckle up.
The Cowboys gave up 111 second-half rushing yards to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch in Week 2, a game where they were physically dominated.
Dallas will have to focus on stopping Matt Forte and Michael Bush if they want a chance at victory.
Blitzing Jay Cutler
Remember when Cutler bumped and yelled at his left tackle, J'Marcus Webb, for doing a horrible job of protecting him?
Dallas will need to exploit that weakness on Monday night.
When the Bears lost to the Packers in Week 2, Green Bay's defense sacked Jay Cutler seven times.
Rob Ryan has to do whatever it takes to get his best defensive rushers in position to knock Webb and Cutler around.
Cutler, like most quarterbacks, makes mistakes and gets rattled when he sees direct pressure in his face. If Dallas' secondary can mirror their performance against Tampa Bay on Monday night, Cutler may be in for a long night.
A Mistake-Free Tony Romo
Romo has thrown an interception in each game that he's played in so far this season. He had one against the Giants, one versus the Seahawks and he tossed one to Aqib Talib against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Each time he was faced with pressure and ended up making a bad decision.
Romo has to learn to eat the ball and just take the sack. I'm not sure if that will ever change for him because he's such a risk taker. But because this game may be close and one turnover may change the outcome, Romo has to be careful.
The offensive line also has to do a better job of protection, which leads me to my next point.
A Stronger Offensive Line
Once you're done laughing, listen to what I have to say. The Cowboys' offensive line is a work in progress.
Well, maybe it's a little worse than that.
So far this season, the Cowboys have given up seven sacks, four of them coming against Tampa Bay.
Tackle Doug Free was flagged for three false-start penalties and center Ryan Cook is still adjusting to his new role of starter.
The O-line also did a horrible job of opening holes for running back DeMarco Murray.
So come Monday night, it may be a situation of feast or famine. Famine for the Cowboys offensive line and a feast for the Bears defense.
A Healthy Defense
Dallas lost safety Barry Church for the season with a torn ACL, free safety Gerald Sensabaugh has a strained calf, defensive lineman Kenyon has a neck injury and nose tackle Jay Ratliff is still healing from a high ankle sprain.
Once Week 4 is done, the Cowboys will head into a bye week to heal and rest up for their contest against the Ravens. But before they reach that point, some of their players may have to suffer through their injuries to play against Chicago.
Not sure how long Ratliff's ankle will take to heal, but a strong Cowboys defensive front will be key to defeating to the Bears.
To supplement for Church's absence, Dallas will use corner Brandon Carr at safety more and Mike Jenkins will switch from the slot to a main corner role.
The good news for Dallas is that the injuries have happened early and they should start to heal as the season progresses.
A Balance Offense
So far this season, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has stuck to the running game even though it's been inconsistent.
DeMarco Murray had over 130 yards rushing against the Giants, but Dallas fell behind early to Seattle, forcing them to pass.
Murray totted the ball 18 times versus Tampa for just 38 yards, but the important thing to remember is that the Cowboys continued feeding him the ball.
It didn't work against the Bucs and it may not work against the Bears. Garrett has to remain patient as he has shown himself to be for the first three weeks.
Cut Down on the Penalties
Dallas had 13 flags thrown on them against Tampa. From false starts, to holding, to pass interference to more false starts, Dallas has to do a better job of remaining focused.
No way should the home team have so many false-start penalties called against them. Understanding that the Cowboys' offensive line is still a work in progress, the mental errors shouldn't be this high.
Another 13-penalty, three-turnover game will doom Dallas. They cannot play that sloppy against the Bears and expect to win.
All three Cowboys turnovers on Sunday came from Tony Romo.
He threw an interception and fumbled the ball twice. The pick was on him because of a poor throw, but the two fumbles were caused when Romo had his bell rung by the Bucs' defensive line.
Can the Cowboys protect the ball on Monday night? If they can't, look for Dallas to slide to 2-2.
Witten had three drops against Tampa and only caught two balls for eight yards.
He injured his spleen in the preseason and hasn't seemed right since then. Witten had two false-start penalties, dropped passes and had no impact on the final outcome of the game.
The Cowboys need Witten to be successful as Romo's fail-safe option and bail Dallas out of bad situations. He hasn't done that this season and the team needs him to return to form on Monday against Chicago.
Cowboys Receiving Unit
Miles Austin and Dez Bryant aided the Cowboys in victory on Sunday. Austin had 107 receiving yards and Bryant had a 44-yard punt return in the fourth quarter to seal Dallas' victory.
Austin has had issues with injuries for the past couple of seasons, but played through a rib injury and sore hamstring on Sunday to lead the Cowboys in receiving yards.
Bryant seemed to finally come out of his shell with six catches for 62 yards.
Dallas will need the same type of performance from these two for a win on Monday.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!