ReFo: Cowboys @ Bears, Week 14
On this run of Thursday Night Football I’ve seen some blowouts, some bruising encounters and this week, a bullying effort.
You don’t often see an offensive line manhandle an opposition the way the Dallas Cowboys did the Chicago Bears, but today we did and it was truly something special to behold. It may be that DeMarco Murray gets all the plaudits for his big boxscore day and he did have some nice runs, but this was the kind of game where it would have been harder not to run for triple digits, such was the level of movement and control the Cowboys’ front regularly got.
Naturally, that will be what we focus on here, but let’s look at some of the key individual performances.
Dallas Cowboys – Performances of Note
Travis Frederick, C: +7.3
Breakdown: It’s the ability of the Cowboys’ running game to score yards on different runs that makes them such a deadly rushing attack. They’re able to do that because Frederick can execute whatever is asked of him. If they want him to reach on a three-technique he can do it. If they want him to get movement on a double team and then work to the second level, he can do. The Bears merely provided the canvas for him to showcase his art.
Signature Stat: 131 of the Cowboys’ rushing yards came on A-gap runs.
Rolando McClain, LB: +3.4
Breakdown: Sometimes gambles do payoff. A disappointment in Oakland who has endured legal troubles and a retirement, the Cowboys took a chance that McClain could offer them something without harming the chemistry of the team. To say it has paid off is understatement. Any rust has been well and truly shaken off by now with McClain showing the kind of attributes that made him a first-round pick.
Signature Play: Gets inside the block of Michael Ola with 8.44 to go in Q1 to make a tackle for a loss, reading and reacting to the play before the Bears guard has a chance to slow him down.
Ronald Leary, LG: +6.2
Breakdown: The weak link in the Cowboys line, yet good enough that he’d be a starter for most teams in the league. Leary is the unheralded member of the unit but he took his chance in this win, where the play calls saw him getting to the second level on a regular basis to inflict punishment on Bears defenders.
Signature Play: You can say it was against a cornerback, but you don’t often see a pulling blocker generate the kind of movement (with a block to the ground for added emphasis) that Leary got with 14.50 left in the game.
Chicago Bears – Performances of Note
Jordan Mills, RT: +4.8
Breakdown: In a miserable night for the Bears one guy stood out especially. With his second grade in the green, Mills kept pressure to a minimum and showed a real nastiness in finishing blocks on the rare occasion the Bears ran his way.
Signature Stat: Allowed no pressures for the second time in three outings.
Kyle Fuller, CB: -4.0
Breakdown: Playing Dez Bryant isn’t easy. Fuller burst onto the scene with turnovers galore but has struggled some since, missing some time and failing to make the right kind of plays. This game was no exception as Bryant beat him for three first downs including one a 43-yard gain downfield.
Signature Play: It’s that big gain that makes this lowlight reel. Fuller was beaten by a slight double move, allowing Bryant to get lots of separation and adjust to a slightly underthrown ball (Q3, 10.16).
Will Sutton, DT: -6.2
Breakdown: You’d be surprised to know Sutton played 47 snaps, with his only impression on the stat sheet a clean up hit on the quarterback. He had problems throughout here, getting driven off the line of scrimmage on double teams and giving up reach blocks when the Cowboys were setting up cutbacks. The worst thing you can say is he rarely looked in control of where he was going, and that’s a big reason Dallas had so much joy up the middle.
Signature Stat: In his fifth start, this was the first of them where he registered no tackles against the run.
PFF Game Ball
It was a joy to watch the left side of the Cowboys’ offensive interior so consider this award shared between Ronald Leary and Travis Frederick.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled