Final Thoughts: New Look For D-Line; Reviving The Passing Game

CHICAGO – It looks like there are going to be several changes in the lineup you've become used to this season when the Cowboys play the Bears tonight. That seems like a good place to start for my final thoughts.

  • This will be the week that Josh Brent will be active and be a part of the rotation at the nose tackle spot working against the Bears. Expect Brent to work in on the early downs and come off in nickel situations. His ability to stack in the running game will help these linebackers, but I don't see much from the pass rush yet technique wise. Rust will be a factor here.
  • Henry Melton has been working more at the left defensive end than he has at tackle. George Selvie is working through a thumb injury, so Melton and Anthony Spencer took the majority of the snaps at that spot. Selvie did practice on Tuesday and is expected to pad up that thumb and play, but keep an eye there as well. Also keep an eye on DeMarcus Lawrence, who is dealing with injured ribs, and how much he might play. There are some questions there.
  • This is a huge game for this Cowboys secondary and how they need to match up against these Bears receivers. My feeling is that we will see Rod Marinelli put Orlando Scandrick on Brandon Marshall and Brandon Carr on Alshon Jeffery at various times in this game. I could also see Marinelli playing more man coverage as well being the way that these Bears receivers like to sit down in routes to find spots in the zone. How well these corners contest the passes will dictate the direction of this game, in my opinion.
  • The game conditions will be perfect for throwing the football the Thursday night. The Bears will try and match these receivers with man coverage to carry them all over the field. Look for Dez Bryant to be on the move more with these crossing routes than what we have seen the last couple of weeks. I also expect Terrance Williams to get back in the mix, especially in the red zone. Early and often should be the game plan.
  • The Bears do not change their offensive personnel much from snap to snap from what I have seen on tape -- so don't be surprised if they go with some no huddle like this defense has seen the last two weeks against the Giants and Eagles. As much as the Cowboys like to get fresh bodies on the field, teams will continue to make that a part of the game plan because of the issues it has caused.
  • Rolando McClain is such a big part of what this team does defensively that when he is out of the lineup it is a noticeable difference. This week he is dealing with a knee injury that robbed him of his mobility in the Eagles game, but he was able to fight through it at practice and appears to be ready. If in the game things become difficult for him to function, Anthony Hitchens will shift to the Mike and Kyle Wilber will come in as the Will. This combination got work together on Monday in practice so it should help them on Thursday if needed.
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