Bears vs Cowboys

AT&T Stadium

On Sunday night the Chicago Bears will come to Dallas looking like a MASH unit. Jay Cutler is out and Bryan Hoyer will most likely make his first start in the 2016 season. Hoyer has had his ups and downs in his career but he is a solid quarterback that if the Cowboys take him lightly can light up this secondary, especially with Orlando Scandrick having hamstring issues. Alshon Jeffery popped up on the injury report with a knee issue and he most likely will be a game-time decision. The Bears defense is more battered than the offense with Lamar Houston, Danny Trevathan, Willie Young and Kyle Fuller hurt, this could finally provide the opportunity for Dak Prescott to throw his first touchdown pass in this young season. The Bears have seemed to start a rebuilding job under John Fox and there are questions if he will be around to see it through.

General Manager Ryan Pace is in his second year with the Bears and has dropped the average age of the team from 27 years old to 25 years old which may explain the growing pains that the team is experiencing. When you decide to go younger, you have to deal with mistakes but if it’s done right you will have a solid foundation of players to build your team with. During free agency this year Pace signed Trevathan to a 4yr/$24.5m contract and franchised Jeffrey’s to a 1yr/$14.5 million contract, making him prove that he is worth a long-term contract. Although Jeffrey’s has had a hard time staying healthy, it makes me wonder if the Bears will purge salaries next year. The team is currently $7 million under the salary cap and you would have to think that Pace might look to unload Cutler at the end of the season or no later than the end of the 2017 season. Cutler has been an enigma from the moment he was drafted and the reality is that previous management signed him to a 7yr/$126 million contract with $54 million guaranteed. Cutler has had more offensive coordinators than Zsa Zsa Gabor’s (R.I.P.) had husbands and has become a heartbreaker as well.

cha-cha-cha-anyone

There are times that you watch him make throws that most quarterbacks could only wish they could and there are times that you would like to give him a Spartan kick in the back and send him packing.

The problem is that they do not have anyone behind him, so sorry Bears fans, you might have to put up with Cutler for one more year and pray that Pace is smarter than Jerry Jones in making quarterback decisions.

The Cowboys will be coming into this game hoping to get their running game on track after looking quite pedestrian the first two games and the second time in two weeks that the team plays a 3-4 defense. I’m placing a gentleman’s bet that we will see Ezekiel Elliott run for 100 yards Sunday night because being benched due to fumbles usually makes you want to prove a point. The offensive line play has been talked about negatively in the first two games and I believe that they will come out with some fire in their bellies. One thing that I saw in the Redskins game was that the team bought Chaz Green in the game when they went with their heavy package. Could this be the beginning of the end for Doug Free? In the past the team tried to prep their swing tackle by giving them small roles hoping that the game time experience will help their transition with Jeremey Parnell and Darrion Weems being recent examples of this practice.

I would be surprised to see Prescott throw more than twenty-five times this game due to the injuries on the Bears front seven. I also would like to see Scott Linehan get Terrance Williams more involved in this offense and with the injuries in the Bears secondary it could happen Sunday night. Prescott has developed quite the bromance with Cole Beasley and I am glad that they have been able to connect for quality plays but it’s time to stretch the field and no one on this team does it better than Williams.

When this defense lines up Sunday night it will most likely have a different look with Tyrone Crawford moving to defensive end and Justin Durant getting more playing time in front of Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens has been a disappointment in the first two games and has lacked the physicality needed in the run game and his pass drops have been less than average. Justin Durant may have lost a step due to age but he has two things that Hitchens is missing at this point, experience and consistency which will help the team defensively going forward. Mark Nzeocha has started to practice with the team and no one is sure when he will be ready for game action but with Marinelli mixing things up, I would like to see what he can offer. Jeremey Langford is a solid back and it will be important that the front seven continues to be physical and Maliek Collins might get the start next to Terrell McClain which should have everyone excited.

In the beginning of the season would you have guessed that Mo Claiborne would be the most consistent player for the defense? Well he has and it is good to see. Claiborne has been all over the field making plays and although he’s still been a little grabby for my liking, it’s good to see him competing at a high level. Orlando Scandrick is struggling due to injuries to his hamstrings and he won’t be right until he gets some rest. Should the team rest Scandrick and play Anthony Brown or should the team disrupt Byron Jones aka Mr. Utility’s growth at Free Safety, having him play Cornerback and move Wilcox back into the starting lineup? The Bears have talented receivers behind Jeffreys in Eddie Royal and Kevin White so the secondary cannot fall asleep on the job.

My prediction is that the Cowboys offense gets on track and finally matches the production offensively with touchdowns instead of field goals and win the game 24-14 and move to 2-1.

So Mote It Be

P.S. I will be in Seattle for the 49ers vs. Seahawk game this weekend! I’m excited to see what the 12th man is about as well as Pike’s Market. If anyone knows of a good bar to watch the Cowboys game at, drop me a line.

Swing Tackle Chaz Green – Another Look

Chaz Green

Talking with Rafael Vela the other day and the topic of Dallas Cowboys swing tackle hopeful, Chaz Green and his recent preseason performance came up. Raf agreed that Chaz was “ok” in the first quarter. We also agreed his play for the rest of the day was less than desirable. And there’s the rub. Green played the entire game even though he was performing worse as the game progressed. That leads us to revisit his performance.

Flashbacks of Darrion Weems and Jermey Parnell come to mind and the years these guys took to work into football shape. Each it seems had nagging injuries in their early years in the league and were constantly out of shape, coming back from injury and working the bands trying to get “game ready.” Parnell signed a big contract with the Jags after a career year in 2014 and Weems is now trying to catch on with the Broncos this season. It took awhile. One turned the corner and the other is looking at it.

Chaz Green looked gassed last week against the Chargers after the first quarter. The team seems to be letting him play himself into better shape. The beginning of the second quarter Green’s footwork started to suffer. Then he began to reach, then lunge. The rest is history. A lineman lives and dies by his footwork. If he gets “noodle legs” his day is pretty much over.

I wrote a pretty harsh assessment of Green’s preseason game day performance. I’m not backing down from it but I have to acknowledge the upside presented from his first quarter. Consistency is one of the key traits that separates NFL players from Collegiate wonders. If you can’t get and keep yourself in good enough shape to perform at an NFL level, that’s an issue.

Look for Chaz to get more of the same today from Jason Garrett and company as the team needs to find out now if Green can handle the job versus in a year or two. He should get another full games worth of snaps. I am curios to see at what point his play falls off. Hopefully its later than the end of the first quarter. Opportunity is still knocking on Chaz Green’s door. Let’s hope he answers.

 

What say you Sports Nation?

Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over