Man, I don't know what the bigwigs at NBC thought they were getting when the Bears/Cowboys tilt was added to the Sunday Night Football schedule, but I don't think a rout of a 1-1 team over an 0-2 team was what they envisioned. This one got rough from the word go and cemented, at least in the early part of the season, that the Bears simply are not a good team.
Perhaps we should start with the Cowboys scoring on their first four drives, including three touchdowns and the ability to do whatever the hell they wanted to. Ezekiel Elliot benefitted from some great push up the middle from the Dallas offensive line, aided in part by the Bears missing Eddie Goldman and Danny Trevathan, and Dak Prescott himself didn't really have to even break a sweat all that much.
The Cowboys got things started with a ten play, 75 yard drive capped off by Prescott plunging across the line off the right tackle. Notable on the play was Leonard Floyd getting schooled in coverage by Jason Witten, who snuck behind Floyd, snared the pass, and raced down to the one yard line before Floyd shoved him out of bounds. The Cowboys lost a challenge claiming he scored. But either way, the Cowboys went up 7-0 on the drive.
Brian Hoyer's first snap as Bears starter resulted in... a failed handoff to Jeremy Langford. Because of course. The Bears would go on to punt in three plays and the Cowboys capitalized with a field goal after hitting Terrence Williams on a deep cross and Elliott running for 11 yards; the drive stalled out after a holding penalty.
Another three and out and the Cowboys ran another 9 play, 72 yard drive, this time for a touchdown. Prescott scrambled for 17 yards, then on a third and 2 Jacoby Glenn got burned badly by Cole Beasley, who took the pass to the one yard line. Lance Dunbar punched in the score.
The Bears finally got on the board the next drive, as they went 7 plays, 59 yards for the field goal. Jordan Howard got his first carry of the game and took it 36 yards into Dallas territory, immediately followed by a 22 yard bubble screen to Alshon Jeffery. The Bears couldn't punch it in, but at least got some points on the board to close to 17-3. The immediately called an onside kick, and actually converted it! ... But offsides was called on Jonathan Anderson and the Bears had to kick it away.
Of course, the Cowboys didn't care, as they went 12 plays and 73 yards for another touchdown. Prescott continued to hit his short to medium progressions and then scrambled for 12 yards to close to 1st and goal, where Alfred Morris finished the job. The game went into the half 24-3 and from there it was more or less academic.
The Bears did add a touchdown in the third quarter after Jacoby Glenn forced a fumble on Terrence Williams; the Bears marched the ball down the field 63 yards on 11 plays. Hoyer got the ball to Jeffery to get things moving, then Langford caught a ten yard pass and took the next rush 23 yards; Zach Miller finished things on a fourth down conversion to close to 24-10. The Cowboys had a chance to go to 27-10, but Dan Bailey missed a 47-yard field goal. Both teams added a touchdown, Prescott to Dez Bryant for his first career passing touchdown, and Hoyer to Zach Miller with about 7:30 remaining in the fourth quarter to pull the game to 31-17.
The rest of the timeline details of the game aren't all that important so let's just cut straight to this after the loss: The Bears are not a good team. They're a very injured team and a team that hasn't shown an ability to execute any given play at any given time, offensively or defensively. Hopefully, they don't all look like this.
- May as well start with my impressions of Dak Prescott - he's solid. The broadcast beat his interceptionless streak into the ground, such as pointing it out on his touchdown run (man, I could go on for days about broadcasting complaints from this one, but I won't), and it certainly impressive. However, it didn't seem like the gameplan was set up to expose him to danger against a relatively toothless defense - routes to get Beasley and Witten open in the short sections of the field and of course plenty of pounding in the run game. Prescott wasn't asked to take many chances, which is fine. If anything, the Dallas offensive gameplan resembled something that it'd be nice if the Bears ran - particularly the "scheming to get people open" part.
- The Bears' offense, however, even allowing for a backup quarterback... bad. For those of you who really, truly believe that Brian Hoyer would make a difference in the Bears' offense, last night should have told you that, well, no. In the first half, the Bears ran 19 plays and held the ball for about 8 minutes. The Cowboys, on the other hand? Credited with 40 plays in ESPN's game log. That's disgusting on all levels, both on the Bears' offense not being able to stay on the field and the Bears' defense not being able to get the Cowboys' offense off the field.
- The Bears started showing a little life in the fourth quarter, but it was in the same way the Bears showed a little life against the Eagles in the fourth quarter - down huge and the Cowboys just wanted to keep the clock running and the lead large. So no, we're not going to do the "Celebrating Fourth Quarter Preseason Style Offense" thing that allows Hoyer to sneak out of a game like this with a 95.6 passer rating, when the final touchdown comes when you're down by three scores. That line should not have to be emphasized. Instead, maybe work a little harder to get that kind of stuff going when the game isn't completely out of reach.
- (Also, just for the record, not sure I'd be celebrating such a passer rating when 17 points is the season high after 3 games...)
- Speaking of Fourth Quarter Preseason Style Offense, good to see Kevin White get some stats going late in the game.
- Zach Miller finally showed up a little bit in the second half, which is good, because it showed he still has a pair of hands he uses to catch footballs with. Now if somebody would like to be the reliable second weapon, please arrive 30 minutes before gametime and be ready to line up on the opening snap. Doors will be locked at halftime.
- Of course Jordan Howard makes a big run first, and then Langford catches a seam of his own later on. So of course we'll continue to see Langford.
- Will Sutton may be a decent pass-rushing end, but as an anchor, not so much. He may as well have been a revolving door in the middle of that Cowboys' offensive blocking scheme.
- Jacoby Glenn had a pretty good first two games. He did not have himself a solid game last night, being burned with decent consistency. Maybe teams have figured out the youngster, in which case, time to adjust.
- Other young player/rookie news, Nick Kwiatkoski and Adrian Amos showed some authoritative hits. Kwiatkoski looks okay playing downhill, but I'd like to see more of him. I think I've seen what I want to of Christian Jones, though.
- The thing is, even when healthy the last two weeks, there were a lot of issues that remained. Protection this week was okay although the Dallas pass rush isn't anything to be overly excited about. The run game drastically stalls out at terribly inopportune times when it's used at all (15 attempts, 3 rushing first downs, 4.9 yards per attempt, 1-7 on third down conversions) - and this is on a night when it was working out okay in spots! Of course there's the misfires and overly conservative throws (6.5 yards per pass for the Bears) and the quantity of throws taken (49 pass attempts!). Being dominated in time of possession by 11 minutes despite the Bears running one more play overall (desperation throws, incompletions, out of bounds, etc). Then there's a defense that in back to back weeks has let rookie quarterbacks go relatively untested. Last week the defense just couldn't get the Eagles off the field and the same thing last night (Prescott racked up a 10.3 yards-per-pass number). A rookie quarterback on this Bears roster, with this playcalling, would be eviscerated.
That's all I've got for you. In the end, the Bears provided some fourth quarter entertainment, but it was all irrelevant past the first punt of the third quarter. Maybe they'll figure out how to unlock some of that fourth quarter magic in the first quarter in time to face the Lions next week. What are your thoughts on last night's loss?