Julius Peppers has one QB KO. Could Tony Romo be the next victim?
LAKE FOREST, IL -- Tony Romo's ability to buy himself time, dance out of trouble, step up into the pocket, and throw passes has made the Dallas Cowboys' QB a threat in the NFL.
The Bears know all about it, and believe they have the correct counter this time to prevent the type of defeat they suffered in 2007 when Romo and the Cowboys embarrassed them 34-10 at Soldier Field.
"He makes a lot of plays with his feet and his arm," nose tackle Anthony Adams said. "He gets outside the pocket, he can make you miss and he’s still looking downfield to buy some time for his wide receivers to make a big play."
When they play again Sunday, the counter the Bears have is defensive end Julius Peppers.
"I think Pep and Tommie (Harris) and those guys are going to get after Romo pretty good," cornerback Charles Tillman said Thursday at Halas Hall. "I think they'll make my job a lot easier."
The Bears' front four put together a somewhat spotty pass rush effort against Detroit in Week 1, although Peppers delivered a game-changing play by knocking out quarterback Matt Stafford with a shoulder joint injury on a blindside sack.
Dallas struggled against Washington, but has two starting linemen back this week who missed their 10-9 Week 1 loss: former Bear Marc Colombo at right tackle and guard Kyle Kosier.
Peppers will have his choice of staying put and matchup against left tackle Doug Free, the third-year player from Northern Illinois University who has eight career starts, or Colombo.
Even with the relative return of health for the Cowboys line, it's not a good matchup for Dallas on either side.
Free has taken over for Flozell Adams, who was let go in the offseason. His claim to fame is he was the tackle who blocked for Bears running back Garrett Wolfe in college. At 6-foot-6, 308 pounds, he's probably better at run blocking.
Colombo is a stiff-legged, rather cumbersome tackle who can be a problem if he gets his body on a rush man, but can be had by a speed player. It should be Mark Anderson's opportunity to do something in pass rush situations at left end. Or, perhaps not.
"We would like for Julius Peppers to be on their worst guy every time, but that's hard to do," coach Lovie Smith said. "It's the National Football League. Whoever they have on the other side is a decent football player.
"We will move Julius around. Of course that's been our plan all along. So we'll just see a little of that this week too."
Wherever they have Peppers lined up, the Bears believe they can get to Romo better than they did in 2007 when he threw for 329 yards on 22-of-35 against them while leading Dallas to a 31-7 second-half advantage.
"I think we're set up for quarterbacks like that," Smith said. "We have a lot of athletic ability in our defensive line. We don't have a lot of big slugs on our defense.
"We feel like we match up skill-wise in all three phases on the defensive side, but it will be important for our guys to stay in their lanes because he's not really a quarterback who's looking to scramble to run, he's looking to scramble to make plays, giving their offense a little bit more time to complete passes. The last time we played them he was able to do that well. We weren't able to get him down and he moved around quite a bit."
Romo has given more accomplished defensive lines than the Bears' fits in the past. Even with Peppers and a healthier Harris rushing him, and the question at tackle for Dallas, it won't be easy.
"Dallas is a great team, very physical," Harris said. "You have (guard) Leonard Davis, you have (center Andre) Gurode, you have a lot of guys that have been there for a long time, a core unit that’s been together.
"So it’s very difficult when you play against an O-line that’s intact like that. So we just have to come out and wear our hard hats."
Gene Chamberlain covers the Chicago Bears for CBS RapidReports and his daily reports can be found at cbssports.com/NFL/rapid-reports.