Both the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys both had quite a few questions left unanswered going into Monday night's game on ESPN, and after the 34-18 win by the Chicago Bears, both teams had most of those questions answered.
The Bears solidified that their defense would once again be the staple of their team but also showed that their offense was a force to be reckoned with.
Both sides of the Bears' game showed that they can produce when it's time to show up. As a result of that, the Bears have a share of the NFC North title four games into the season, and perhaps, the more remarkable scenario is that they have a better record than both the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.
With the win on Monday night, we learned a few things from the Chicago Bears—a few things that could be crucial down the stretch this season.
The Chicago Bears have always built their team around defense, a skill that led them to the 2006 Super Bowl vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Entering this season, fans were more occupied with the moves toward building the offense, moves that, no doubt, helped the team.
The defense, however, managed to pull out one of the greatest first four-game starts in its history under Lovie Smith, creating 14 takeaways through the first four games.
There are many players to thank for this, but as a whole, the team has been running smoothly, and Lovie Smith could not ask for more out of his defense. The defensive line has been getting pressure (including one sack tonight by Henry Melton), the linebackers have been getting tackles and the secondary has been getting interceptions.
One thing we learned tonight was that the Bears will always have a strong defense, and their defense will be the key to their team's success.
Jay Cutler put up 275 yards and completed 18-of-24 passes Monday night for two touchdowns, and the running game put up a combined 93 yards on 28 attempts. Brandon Marshall caught seven passes for 138 yards, and the Bears offense finally looked like it should, clicking on all cylinders.
The offense, however, did not look unstoppable.
The Bears only led by a score of 10-7 at the half, showing that if the offense is slow getting points on the board in any game this season, the defense can hold the team over until the offense gets clicking.
It took the Bears a while to figure out the defensive scheme of the Dallas Cowboys, but that's OK because they have a defense that allows them to be slow in games like this. If we learned one thing from this game, it's that the offense can take its time getting going because the defense will have the game under control.
It may not seem like it by the final numbers, but the run game was key for the Chicago Bears on Monday vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
It was a perfect offense: The Bears would establish the run on first down, which would open up the pass game on later downs against the Cowboys. The Bears established the run early and often, punishing the Cowboys for trying to drop back into pass coverage on first down.
Monday showed the fans a few things about the Chicago Bears offense.
First of all, the Bears can run the ball effectively against a team with a legitimate rush defense. Secondly, the offense works better when both running backs are in the game—and healthy.
If the Bears have both running backs healthy, and both can run the ball effectively, then the Bears will have an effective offense and will be able to be a legitimate NFL offensive threat this season.
Before the Chicago Bears had the chance to break the game open in the first half, they allowed the Dallas Cowboys to crawl back into the game by letting Tony Romo and company drive down the field and score on them.
The Bears have an excellent defense; nobody can argue against 14 takeaways in four games. Fans can, however, be worried about the potential threat of Aaron Rodgers or Alex Smith driving on them in an important game late in the season, or during the playoffs, during a two-minute drill, because the defense has not responded well this season to two-minute drills.
It seems like the defense can perform well when they need to in the game, except when the defense has little time to huddle up and call plays. The Bears have to get better at the two-minute drill if they want to be a legitimate contender for the NFC North title or even a playoff birth.
No disrespect to Tony Romo, but the Bears won't be playing a quarterback who gets flustered under pressure every game this season. In order to become an elite defense, the Bears need to get better at stopping the two-minute drill, or it could haunt them later in the season.
When the Chicago Bears got absolutely embarrassed by the Green Bay Packers on national television on Thursday Night Football, the team looked like they may not be the team the Bears fans have been waiting for and even looked bad enough to miss the postseason this year.
After four games, so far, however, the Bears are 3-1, tied for a top spot in the NFC North division, and look like a team ready to make a run deep into the postseason this year.
The defense has looked good, getting five interceptions off Tony Romo on Monday, and the offense has finally started clicking, making it seem as if the Chicago Bears could finally be looking like the team everyone has wanted them to be for the first three games this season.
With Jacksonville coming up next on the schedule for Chicago, and then a bye week, it looks as if the Bears could possibly end Week 7 with only one loss, a feat that is not small by any means. For now, it looks as if the team is clicking and finally reaching its full potential.
The final thing we learned from the Bears in Week 4 vs. the Dallas Cowboys is that the Chicago Bears, if they play to their full potential, will be able to compete with anyone in the NFL. They could make a run deep into the postseason, a run so deep that nobody knows where it will stop.