Film Study: Bears need what Dallas has

  • Bears running back David Montgomery (32) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys defenders during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys won 49-29.

    Bears running back David Montgomery (32) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys defenders during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys won 49-29. Associated Press

Updated 11/4/2022 7:36 PM

At first, it seemed like maybe the Bears defense went on a sit-down strike Sunday in Dallas to protest the trade of Robert Quinn.

Upon closer inspection, the Bears simply got run over by a better team. There's not one position group where the Bears have an edge over the Cowboys.


It started with mismatches on both sides of the line. The Bears' interior DL tandem of Justin Jones and Armon Watts were instrumental in slowing down New England's run game. On Sunday they were walled off by the Dallas' middle three linemen.

That group includes right guard Zack Martin, a seven-time Pro Bowl participant, but also left guard Connor McGovern, a 2019 third-round draft pick, and center Tyler Biadasz, a 2020 fourth-round pick.

This leads to another question: Why was the Cowboys offensive line, with one veteran and four starters age 25 or younger, pushing people around, while Bears blockers struggled for a few years? Maybe the Bears need to pursue a more accomplished offensive lineman to anchor their group.

On the other side, rookie left tackle Braxton Jones had a rough day trying to slow down Dallas OLB Micah Parsons. Jones is a solid run-blocker, especially on the move, but the Bears are asking too much of him against the elite pass rushers. An ideal scenario for next year would be a new left tackle, while letting Jones and Larry Borom compete for the right tackle spot.

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As has been the case this season, the Bears were scrappy and competitive. They might have stayed in the game until the end if not for the David Montgomery fumble and return for a touchdown by Parsons.

If nothing else, this game seemed to set the offseason priorities. They should be hoping to land an edge with their first-round pick and make a veteran offensive tackle the main target in free agency.

Getting horizontal

The Bears' opening drive illustrated the perils of trying to stretch the defense. They threw deep for Darnell Mooney on the first play and didn't come close to completing it. As a result, they started behind the chains, went three-and-out and fell behind 14-0 before registering a first down.

The Bears had better luck in the second half stretching the field horizontally. Utilizing jet sweeps, Justin Fields runs and screen passes, they were able to play to their linemen's strengths and open up the inside run game.


Once again, the Bears went away from the block-heavy sets that have been successful. Fullback Khari Blasingame was on the field for just 9 offensive snaps. Among the extra tight ends, Trevon Wesco had 25 snaps and Ryan Griffin 6.

Hopefully, the Bears will set a goal of Fields throwing for more than 151 yards. They'll need to keep pushing the quick throws and medium routes, because Fields is getting hit harder when he stays in the pocket than on the designed QB runs.

New personnel

We pointed out last week how the Bears won't miss Quinn's production, since there hasn't been much this season. But depth became an issue when the veteran pass-rusher was sent to Philadelphia.

Their solution was to move Al-Quadin Muhammad over to Quinn's spot and use Trevis Gipson on the left side. There's still no evidence Gipson is an every-down player, since he continues to get pushed around in the run game.

At times, Muhammad went back to the left side while rookie Dominique Robinson stayed on his usual right side. Rookie Jonathan Kingsley seemed overwhelmed, but played just 9 snaps.

Without Roquan Smith gone, will we see more of Jack Sanborn? The Lake Zurich native seemed to do fine Sunday, but played just 13 snaps. Newcomer A.J. Klein played in just two games for Baltimore this season.

Worst play

It doesn't get much worse than Dak Prescott's 25-yard burst on a QB sneak. Dallas lined up with three tight ends on the same side of the line, a formation that worked for the Bears in New England. Jaquon Brisker, Roquan Smith and Gipson tried to push the TEs into the backfield like they assumed a running back was headed their way and never bothered to look at Prescott. Nick Morrow tried to hold his ground in the middle, but was blocked by three guys.

Worst Play II

Early in the game, the Cowboys used a simple concept to find easy success. They kept the tight ends to block and ran a two-receiver route. While the Bears backpedaled into cover two, Prescott made a tepid run fake, then tossed an easy pass to RB Tony Pollard, who had enough flat space in front of him to run to South Fork Ranch.

Those edge rushers usually go early in the draft, so don't count on the Bears to keep a high priority on winning.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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