Mike Martz offense: In 2007 and 2008, the Mike Martz lead Lion offense dominated the Cowboys defense. If not for a miracle last minute win lead by Tony Romo, the Cowboys would have been 0-2 in those two outings against a decidedly inferior team. There are some dangerous weapons on Chicago’s offense that can exploit an overly aggressive defense. Martz also has historically exploited weak links against a defense; looking at the Cowboys defense, it appears that Alan Ball may get a substantial opportunity to prove Jerry Jones and Co. right that he was the right man for the job.
Marc Colombo: When Colombo returned from a broken leg to play against the Minnesota Vikings, he has one of his worst games of his professional career. The Bears spent heavily on free agents and the expectation is that they will put pressure on the Cowboys by design. If Colombo isn’t able to handle the early stress of defending against Julius Peppers alone, Jason Garrett absolutely must give him help from the running backs.
Alan Ball: Last week there were n0 WTF moments from the safety position. Other than Darren Sharper, Ed Reed, and Troy Polamalu, the safety is a position of anonymity until something goes horribly wrong. As indicated previously, expect the Bears to make every effort to find the weak link on defense.
Dez Bryant: Bryant caught 8 passes for 56 yards against the Redskins. Two of the passes were for basically no gain as the defensive back tackled Bryant immediately after the catch. The question is whether the two bubble routes were an effort to get Bryant involved in the game or an effort to inflate his statistics in order for him to win Rookie of the Year. Consequently, Jerry Jones’s pick would be validated. I tend to believe it was the former, but those two back to back bubble screens killed a good drive.
Play calling 101: Jason Garrett has a received a ton of criticism over the past week. From the quick passes to Bryant, to the lack of running plays, to the the halfback pass. I’d like to believe that Garrett was making a legitimate effort to make the opposing defenders think. If they believe a half back pass is in the Cowboys repertoire, they will be more hesitant to run towards the ball and abandon their WR to make the tackle on the running back. If Garrett slows down one safety by putting the halfback pass into their mind, he’s done his job.
During the Redskins game, it did appear that the Cowboys attempted to set up the stop and go with Dez Bryant. Where the WR will run a 5 yard comeback and then when the corner back is sucked into moving in the wrong direction, the WR will then run for the endzone. If the quick passes to Bryant were and effort to set up plays later, I will give a pass to Garrett for his questionable play calling. He’s at least thinking out there, though it looks as though he is just pulling plays out of a grab bag labeled passing plays.
One additional quick point. With the Cowboys offering multiple plays in the huddle and relying on Romo to audible to the proper play, it is possible that Garrett is calling more running plays. However, Romo reads an 8 man defensive front and makes the appropriate call to a passing play. It is possible that defenses set up in an 8 man front in an effort to force the Cowboys into a passing play and have the safeties back pedal into a passing defense. Consequently, the defense is deciding what play the Cowboys will run. That is inexcusable if it is the case.
Injuries: The Cowboys won the battle of attrition in week one. While DeMarcus Ware suffered a neck strain, he will likely be able to play against the bears. Other playoff contenders were not so lucky (Kris Jenkins for the Jets, Bob Sanders for the Colts, Stewart Bradley and Kevin Kolb for the Eagles, etc.) Deon Anderson, Sean Lee, and Sam Young will not play against the Bears, but they are not lost for the season.