By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears come into their game this Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys limping seriously. Their previous game, against the Eagles which was a 29-14 loss, saw several of their key starters go out with injury. Some of these starters will be out for a lengthy period of time making winning this season that much tougher. Will they be able to overcome the loss of so much talent and earn their first victory of the season over the Cowboys this Sunday?
The answer to that is coming up soon but first, we need to look at how this game is going to shape up for the Bears and determine if they have a shot at winning this Sunday night.
The Bears had been keeping the status of their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, close to the vest for a better part of the week and it would appear that he will not be playing this Sunday night. In his place, longtime journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer will start and it’s tough to say just how well he will do. Hoyer has been a starter before and has the experience but has he had enough time to ramp up and prepare for this game? He does have the talent around him to make a difference but does he have the ability to use that talent? Consider him a true wildcard for this game.
The running game has yet to really get going this season although there have been some brief flashes. Chicago has used a bit of a rotation with their running backs to start putting Jeremy Langford, Ka’deem Carey and Jordan Howard in. Langford has been good, Carey has been ok (and will be out of this one with a hamstring injury) and Howard has been quite surprising. The Bears will probably decide to start Langford but use Howard much more often to help invigorate the rushing attack and make it click. They could get going big against the Cowboys.
The wide receivers will have Hoyer to throw the ball to them and will either find success or not find the ball at all. Hoyer has had some time to prepare and work with starters like wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White along with tight end Zach Miller but when the game starts will he be able to get his passes out to them? Hopefully these guys will be able to give Hoyer some targets getting open and catching passes or else it’s going to be a long day for the Bear’s offense.
The offensive line looked out of sorts on Monday night against the Eagles. One culprit in particular was Bobby Massie who struggled greatly. The Bears may need to start looking for help at his position. Cody Whitehair has shown flashes but is not stable at the center position right now. This will be the third game this unit has played together and it’s about time that they started to get things right because if they can’t come together in this game it’s going to be a long season for both the line and the offense as a whole. Hopefully something will click and they will start playing better.
The Dallas defense has been allowing teams to pile up the yards on them in two games they have played this season so if Chicago can get things going then they might be able to win this game at least on offense. The right game plan and the proper execution will put the Bears in the driver’s seat for a big game on offense. But can they do it with a backup quarterback? That’s the key. Another key is the play calling. Can that get better?
Chicago’s defense may be hurting worse than their offense is. They had some pretty significant injuries on Monday night and some of those injured players will probably not be available for this game. One starter who will definitely be out is defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. Goldman has been a rock in the center of the Bears defense but at the end of last season he was hurt and this year, so far, he will miss four games. Someone will have to step up and do contribute in his absence.
The defensive line has not been making significant plays in the two games they have been in this season. They brought in some additional talent in the offseason (guys like Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard) but the spark is just not there. Whether it’s the scheme or the talent, it has yet to be determined, this group has not performed well in a defense that should be solid and productive. They are starting off worse than they ended last season.
The linebacker group had a lot of promise coming into the season and but now it has lost one of its starters for this game and for a little bit longer. Danny Trevethan is going to be out of this one after injuring his thumb on Monday night. This means that the next man up will be Jonathan Anderson who will most likely be stepping in to take over. Jerrell Freeman has been lights out in the first two games and is the Bears best defender right now. Sam Acho has been steady. Meanwhile the Bears patiently wait for Pernell McPhee to get back into the lineup and help make this one of the best groups in the NFL.
The secondary was rocked with injuries in week two. According to the latest injury report, Adrian Amos is questionable, Bryce Callahan is questionable, Kyle Fuller is questionable, Tracy Porter is questionable and Chris Prosinski is questionable. No one is doubtful (at least in the secondary), which is good, but some of these guys who are questionable may not play. Fuller has been out the first two weeks but may finally make an appearance this Sunday. Porter’s injury isn’t that serious. The two guys with concussions, Callahan and Amos should have already passed the protocol. Hopefully the Bears will have most of their hands on deck in the secondary for this game.
The Cowboys have been relying on rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and he had a pretty decent game in week two. The Cowboys receivers are very good with Dez Bryant leading the way there. Their running game is bolstered by rookie Ezekiel Elliot so if their offense is clicking, they could be hard to stop. The Bears defense is not only ailing but hasn’t been performing that well. Will it all break down again Sunday night?
Special teams for the Bears have been fairly solid minus some kicking miscues by Connor Barth. Punting is always good and the return teams have been doing well, especially the punt return group which is headed by wide receiver Eddie Royal. Royal had the punt return for a touchdown last week and has sparked the return teams. If he’s healthy, he’s a solid player on both special teams and offense.
This game could be one that sees a lot of yards gained by both teams with few points or a lot of points scored. It’s almost nearly a toss-up at this point. Injuries have hurt both teams but the Bears may be hurting the most coming into the game. The X factors are all over the place. How will Hoyer do? Can the Bears run the ball? Will the defensive line disappear? Can the secondary hold up? Can Barth make all the kicks? So many questions and too few answers heading into the game.
The Cowboys have issues as well so the winner will be the most opportunistic team with the fewest issues. That team may not be the Bears. Too many things are going on, in the negative and there is not enough talent to overcome the problems they have right now. Dallas has the edge in this one.
Look for the Bears to put up a fight but fall short for the third game in a row. This will be a big “revelation” game for the Bears players and the coaching staff however and changes will be coming following this contest. Keep an eye out for that.
Instead of the Bears progressing, following last season’s disappointment, they appear to be regressing. Is it yet another rebuilding year for the Bears? It’s really starting to look that way.
Prediction: Dallas 28 Chicago 20
Additional Injury Update: In addition to the players listed previously, who are injured, the Bears also listed Jeffery as being questionable with a knee injury, Massie being questionable with a toe injury, Sherrick McMannis appearing to be fully ready to go but suffering from a wrist injury, Josh Sitton questionable with a shoulder injury, Will Sutton questionable with an elbow injury and Willie Young questionable with a knee injury.