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Blue: For the second week in a row, the Bears managed a narrow victory over a handicapped opponent, though this week it seemed that the opposition's weakness lay squarely between their ears.
Frolicking in the springtime of a love affair with the pass, Dallas head coach Wade Phillips called for 51 aerial plays, despite a roster that boasts three starting-caliber running backs. Ignoring repeated visual evidence to the contrary, Fox analyst and former Cowboy great Troy Aikman, alongside St. Louis Cardinals announcer Joe Buck, continued to relay nationally broadcasted reassurances to the Cowboys that passing behind Jason Witten and over the head of Miles Austin was in fact, exemplary quarterbacking.
As a result, Big D managed only a single offensive touchdown for the second time in two games, with the other trip to the end zone provided by a first quarter Dez Bryant punt return.
Opting to erase all doubt of their collective incompetence, the Cowboys' coaching staff ordered an end to the aggressive and effective defensive game plan that held the Bears to eight total yards in their first three offensive series.
Sensing an opportunity to mystify the opposition, coordinator Mike Martz dialed up a series of elegant and complex plays certain to baffle the now relaxed Dallas defense. However, as evidenced by Devin Hester's completion-negating "illegal formation" penalty in the second quarter, it seems the Bears skill players are often equally baffled by Martz's wizardry.
Credit Jay Cutler's ability to work within the limitations of his personnel, as he wisely called two consecutive hot routes for confused receivers Devin Hester and Greg Olsen ("Run a slant . . . No the other way!" and "Go over there for a while!" respectively) during Chicago's first touchdown drive.
Though it was in many was an impressive win, critical weaknesses were apparent. The Bears were horrendous in key metrics such as time of possession (26:20), third down conversions (1-11), rushing yards (38) and punt return yards (-5). Statistics such as these would typically paint a portrait of defeat, but the 2-0 2010 squad continues to defy football logic.
Blue Preview: Packers at Bears
Unlike Dallas, Green Bay is well aware of its strengths and will put the game in the hands of their quarterback, former Pantera bass player Aaron Rodgers. If available to play, expect the Packers to exploit the Chicago secondary with tight end Jermichael Finley, who is currently on the injury report with a "Questionable" name. The Bears defense will continue its run of reasonable performances, but the offense will not be able to resist the urge to shoot itself directly in the toes.
Pick: Green Bay 24, Chicago 16
Orange: Because I always seem to work at places where the equipment doesn't work - or the people don't - I always appreciate a team that can create workarounds the way the Bears did against both Dallas and its own offensive line.
Mike Martz, apparently finally believing the media hype that the line needed help, added a seven-man protection in some plays (I can't take credit for knowing that, I am just parroting Troy Aikman), which still didn't keep Jay Cutler from spending most of the first quarter on his back. However, when he was upright, Cutler did take the time he needed to make sure his receivers were probably in the wrong place rather than throwing the ball into the nether - or the hands of the other team.
Johnny Knox came to play, starting the game with a 42-yard return on the opening kickoff. True, the Bears had to rely on the defense to pick off a Tony Romo pass, but hey, that's really Bears football, isn't it?
And speaking of the Bears defense, let's applaud Zachary Bowman, who it seems to me gets quite overshadowed by the other giants on the defense, Peanut Tillman, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Even last year when he didn't even play, Urlacher still got more mention than Bowman. But let's remember, the Bears defense is aging, and with 10 tackles and two assists in this game alone, Bowman has shown that he can fill those shoes.
So although this game might have been handed to them by the mental breakdown of Dallas' offensive coaching, it was a win that the Bears earned, unlike last week.
Orange Preview: Packers at Bears
I'm inclined to give the Bears the edge on this game, as it's being played in front of a home crowd, which tends to get the team fired up. However, with the Vikings clearly not playing like the team to beat in the NFC North, the Packers have a shot at spitting in Brett Favre's eye by retaining first place.
Pick: Green Bay 27, Bears 10
Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Nikki Golden brings you the Orange half of this report every week when her husband Andrew is not available. They welcome your comments.
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Posted on Feb 20, 2018