The Bears defense played very inspiring this past Sunday, and for me and many fans who witnessed that beat down the Cowboys put on us last time we played each other made this performance much satisfying. Yes, the Bears gave up 400+ yards, but at the same time they made the Cowboys very one dimensional on offense - only allowing 38 rushing yards for 2.0 yards per carry. Physically and mentally the Bears put a fear into the Cowboys offense, by delivering crushing hits whenever a receiver caught the ball, while also strategically shutting down the big plays Garrett and Romo were looking for most of that game. The Bears defense played very well and this should give them plenty of confidence going into next week's Monday Night game knowing they can shut down a high power offense.
LE Mark Anderson: Grade D
This is becoming a developing problem that's flying under the radar. Anderson has been nonexistent for the past two games, specifically in pass rushing, and this is someone the Bears were counting on to benefit from the acquisition. So far we are seeing the same Anderson from recent years where he's too small to bull rush which results in him getting stonewalled and he just gets pushed out of the play when he is purely speed rushing. He was also absent in the run game as Marinelli used plenty of Idonjie on 1st and 2nd downs. We thought Anderson turned the corner in the final two games of last season, but it looks like he has regressed to his old ways. This should be very concerning for Bears fans, as you don't want to put too much pressure on Peppers.
DT Tommie Harris/Matt Toenia: Grade B+
Tommie was double-teamed for most of this game, but when he wasn't, he was a nonfactor against Kyle Kosier. I will give Tommie a break this time around as going up against pro bowl caliber interior lineman at the same time (center Andre Gurode) is a tall task. The reason this grade is a B is because of the stellar play of Matt Toenia for the second game in a row. Very effective against the run as he did his job plugging up his gap, and also getting a good push inside against some of the best in the business in Kosier and Gurode when pass rushing. The main thing I look for in our defensive tackles is they getting that push to make the QB jittery and uncomfortable in the pocket. Toenia's best play this past Sunday came in the 2nd half where he got into the back field and had the instincts to break up a screen pass. Matt Toenia is making the most of his time when he is in there.
DT Anthony Adams:Grade B+
Adams and Toenia were the catalyst of that run defense that allowed only 38 yards 2.0 yards per carry. In my original WCG Match-Up post, I detailed that the most important match-up was our DTs vs. their guards and I thought both guys did an impressive job against a tough Cowboys interior line. Adams was often plugging up his gaps on the line and getting a significant push against Davis.
RE Julius Peppers: Grade B
Peppers was double-teamed and chipped for most of the game, but still was able to get significant pressure on Romo while also playing against the run very well. I was a little surprised that Lovie played Julius at LE most of the game against Colombo rather than against the unproven Doug Free. I think they should have played Peppers a lot more at his original position RE than at LE for that Sunday.
CB Zachary Bowman and Charles Tillman: Grade B+
Why a B+ plus for the starting corners who gave up 374 passing yards? Because although they did give up a big amount of yards, they never really gave up the big play that Romo was often looking for that day. Playing a soft coverage shell, you are going to give up yards, but it's important for the secondary to tackle well and take advantage of plays when they are there for the taking. The secondary certainly did that this past Sunday.
Nickel back D.J. Moore: Grade B+
Moore's performance last Sunday was what I wanted to see from that nickel back position for quite some time (link). We need a playmaker, a ball-hawk at that position and it looks like for the mean time we found that guy in Moore. Some fans are calling his INTs lucky, but the book on Moore coming out of college was that although he's too small to play on the outside, he's very athletic and plays the ball well. His instincts and athleticism were on display this Sunday when on his second INT, he quickly noticed the ball was inaccurately thrown by Romo and had the presence of mind to leave his guy and hustle over there for the turnover.