The Cowboys are somehow going into their game Monday night with the Bears with a 2-1 record. The defense is the #1 rated defense in the NFL based on yards allowed. But the offense has been nearly non-existent since the week 1 win against the Giants. And the punt team continues to struggle.
The Bears aren't world beaters but they do have a very good defense. That means that the offense has their work cut out for them this week. Last week the offense struggled against one of the worst pass defenses in football primarily because they just couldn't get Tony Romo any time to throw the ball. And the running game was so bad it was embarrassing.
The defense will have their hands full dealing with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. It is sounding more and more like Matt Forte will play Monday night as well. But you can be sure that Cutler will throw at least a few balls that the defense will have a chance to pick off. The real test is going to be stopping the running game again. Even without Matt Forte the Bears will still have Michael Bush who is no slouch. The good news is that the Bears are very similar to the Cowboys in that their offensive line is not good at all.
The real test for the Cowboys this week will be what they do on offense. It is pretty obvious at this point that the Cowboys could be a very good team if the offense could become even mediocre. Who would have thought that the offense would be the big problem after the terrible finish to the season by the defense last year. That just goes to show how poorly the offensive line has played up to this point. They aren't opening any running lanes at all and Tony Romo will be lucky to play 16 games this season they way things are going.
Bill Callahan admitted that his offensive line has been terrible. Doug Free admitted his play has been terrible. The question is whether there is enough talent and skill on the offensive line to fix the problems that have been apparent over the last two games. We have all seen Doug Free play good football before. He just needs his confidence back.
I believe the rest of the issues stem from the fact that the offensive line basically had no preseason together. The new center and a lack of focus has been causing a ridiculous number of false starts. And the communication between the lineman has been terrible. But these are issues that can be fixed. There is still hope but we need to start seeing improvement. I don't think all of the issues can be fixed in a week but I do think we'll see a better performance all around from the offensive line this week.
I am a little worried about Jason Witten now. Not that he is never going to be the player he has been for the last 10 years, but that it is going to take him some time to get his mojo back. He looked healthy last week. He just seems very unsure of himself. If he can get off to a better start I'm sure things will fall into place. Maybe he can start the game without having to catch a tipped pass this week.
The Cowboys need to get off to a good start this week to help out the defense since they are down a man with Barry Church out for the season. Danny McCray is a decent player but is a clear step down from the play of Church. It makes the job of a safety much easier if they know when the pass is coming. Getting a decent lead could force the Bears into a passing game which could lead to interceptions and sacks. A close game will allow the Bears to continue to pound away with Forte and Bush.
I don't expect a quick turnaround from the offense this week. But I do think they will be better. I expect a close game Monday night. It is a very even matchup with two good defenses matching up with two bad offensive lines. It really comes down to whether you have more faith in Romo or Cutler to make the play or, more importantly, not make the bad play. I have more trust in Romo to get the job done based on what I've seen from Cutler and his line this season. I'm picking the Cowboys to win a close one 20-17.