Bears-Cowboys OL Viewers Guide: Facing a new front

Bears-Cowboys OL Viewers Guide: Facing a new front
December 7, 2013, 10:45 pm
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Bears tackle Jermon Bushrod played the Dallas Cowboys in both 2009 and 2010, when the Cowboys’ defense was anchored by nose tackle Jeremiah –- then called “Jay” – Ratliff and Bushrod was a New Orleans Saint. But Ratliff, no longer a nose tackle, has been able to give only marginal help this week regarding his former teammates.

The main reason is simple: The 3-4 scheme of Dallas under former coordinator Rob Ryan is now a 4-3, one-gap defense under Tampa-2 proponents in coordinator Monte Kiffin and line coach Rod Marinelli. “It’s almost like going against our defense,” said right tackle Jordan Mills.

[INJURY REPORT: Cutler out, Wright in for Bears]

Bushrod will match up against edge rusher DeMarcus Ware, as he observed, “They’ve got some of the same players but they’re playing inside more. They’re not asking the same things out of their linemen.”

What they still do ask of their linemen, however, is that they rush the passer. The Cowboys rank 30th in sack percentage but three members of their front four have more sacks – Ware 6, end George Selvie 5, tackle Jason Hatcher 9) than any Bear other than Julius Peppers.

“They’re not a heavy blitzing team like Baltimore or New Orleans,” said guard Matt Slauson. “They rely a lot on their front four and might pressure a little with their ‘backers but they’ll usually only bring one.”

What to look for: The best way to stop a pass rush is to run at it. The Bears did not run effectively in their recent losses to St. Louis (3.1 yards per carry) and Detroit (1.9). While their average per carry was good in Minnesota (5.4), short-yard failures were arguably the tipping point in that game.