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Broaddus: Escobar May Be Due For Success Against Bears
The Nemesis: Orlando Scandrick
There is no question the Cowboys defensive back that has played with the most consistency throughout the entire season has been Orlando Scandrick.
In this matchup against the Bears on Monday night, they are going to need him to take it to another level when he lines up across from the receivers the Bears are going to run out there. Where Scandrick might give up a little height to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, he will make up for it with his competitive nature and cover skills.
What I have always respected about Scandrick is his willingness to prepare but also not to back down from the challenge of having to play the opponent’s best receiver. Where Scandrick will make a difference in this game is how the Bears like to move these receivers all over the formation. To play them, you need corners that can move and cover right with them.
Marc Trestman likes to run them on crossing and inside routes, so you have to be physical off the line but also be ready to adjust as the break from the line. Scandrick plays with the confidence to not only jam the receiver, but he also has the skill that if he misses, he can recover and get back on track to handle the route.
Scandrick knows that he needs to make these routes all contested if he is going to have a chance in this game.
The Weapon: DeMarco Murray
It’s rare that you see a Chicago Bears defense that is struggling as badly as this one is defending the run -- but that is the case this season.
The Bears are dead-last in the league in rushing yards allowed and yards per carry. Last week against the Vikings, Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker went with eight in the box to try and handle Adrian Peterson, and that still didn’t work.
This is a different team without Lance Briggs, Henry Melton and Brian Urlacher in the middle of this defense. This Cowboys offense has done a much better job of running the ball with Murray, and though the numbers say they are ranked 27th in the league, they are ranked 20th in yards per attempt and that is a huge improvement for an offense that played two games without Murray in the lineup and only attempted nine rushes in a game against Minnesota.
The Bears like to slant their front, then shift their linebackers in the opposite direction to fill the gaps, or slant the front then bring that extra man off the edge. What teams have been able to do is get them going one way, then cut the ball back behind the movement. Look for Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan to come up with some misdirection plays with Murray to get this Bears front going one way trying to get to the ball, then take the ball back the other way. Look for some traps and draws allowing the Bears up the field, then running inside Peppers and McClellin.
Under The Radar: Gavin Escobar
There is a side of me that believes because of the weather conditions with the cold, these Cowboys tight ends are going to play a huge role in the outcome of this game.
The key this week is going to be about sustaining drives and making simple throws. I know Gavin Escobar hasn’t received many opportunities to make plays in these games, but when he has been called on he has been able to deliver.
His catch in the final drive of the Giants game got things going for the offense and those are the types of plays he can make -- simple flat routes for five to six yards to move the sticks. With Escobar’s size going up the field and how the Bears like to play with a single safety high to help in the run, Escobar can find some space in the zone.
Despite going to school in San Diego, he has played in some cold weather games and functioned very well. Going to Provo, Utah, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Laramie, Wyo., during his college career was not a shock to his system.
If there is a player in this Cowboys offense other than Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris who can get minimal snaps but still have a positive outcome, it’s Gavin Escobar. There is just too much talent not to take advantage of his playing making ability. We saw it last week with Lance Dunbar, and Escobar just might be that same type of player in the cold of Chicago.