CHICAGO – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones wants to see his defense live a little more dangerously next time it takes the field.
The Dallas defense was gouged in every way possible in Monday night's loss to the Bears. Josh McCown completed 75 percent of his passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, the ground game tallied 149 yards and another score. All three of the Bears' leading receivers averaged more than 10 yards per catch.
Coupled with the Nov. 10 loss to New Orleans, it was the second savage beating the Cowboys have taken in a month. The answer, according to Jones, is to play riskier in hopes of making some big plays.
"We'll have to make some adjustments in what we're doing defensively. What that usually means is taking more risks on defense," he said. "If you're going to have the kind of nights that we had tonight, or certainly down in New Orleans, you've got to take some risks."
Cowboys defenders got their hands on several balls, and Sterling Moore had an interception nullified by a holding call. But at the end of a zero-degree night, Dallas finished with zero turnovers – a rarity this season.
Jones didn't specify what the defense was missing – whether it might be more blitzing, better coverage or a more concerted effort at the football. He did imply, however, that more could be done to create takeaways.
"We can do some things different out there that's not as safe, and it could be more effective – maybe get us some turnovers," he said. "And it could have made a difference and changed the tide out there."
The Cowboys have a short week to get ready for Green Bay, which might feature a recovered Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Faced with that prospect, Jones was confident his defense would mix it up – perhaps even from a personnel standpoint.
"I'll assure you we'll be doing some different things up against Green Bay. There will be a little different cast of players out here against Green Bay," Jones said.
On the stat sheet, DeMarcus Ware's night reads relatively well: three tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack.
The reality wasn't so flattering, though. The sack came midway through the fourth quarter, with Dallas trailing by 21 points and victimized by a Bears offense that piled up 33 first downs and converted 8-of-11 third downs.
"You've got to be able to get off the field on third down, and you've got to – on screen plays, draw plays, whatever plays it is – you've got to be able to tackle. We didn't tackle as well, so defensively we didn't play a fundamentally sound game."
Ware was the only Cowboy to sack McCown, who bought time and diced up the Dallas defense. Ware said the way the Cowboys played, it wouldn't have mattered if the quarterback was McCown, Peyton Manning or one of the reporters talking to him in the Soldier Field locker room.
"If you were back there at quarterback and we played the way we played, you'd probably have five touchdowns. That's just the way I feel," he said.
It's been a season of firsts for Ware, and not in the good way. The All-Pro defensive end missed the first three games of his career with injury issues earlier in the year. He's also on pace for his lowest sack total since 2005, when he posted eight as a rookie.
In fact, with his current total of six, Ware could potentially finish the season with single-digit sacks for the first time since that rookie campaign.
"I've got to be more consistent putting up big numbers – I haven't been doing that," Ware said. "I've got to get back to that. I mean, it's December – we've got no choice."
Despite that, Ware didn't use his health as an excuse for a frustrating 2013 season.
"Health-wise I'm fine. I feel good – running around out there, didn't get tired, in shape," he said. "But at the end of the day, I haven't been playing like the DeMarcus of the past. I've got to get back to that. It's December."
Dez Bryant appeared poised for a strong night when he hauled in a two-yard touchdown to open the evening's scoring.
Instead, he saw his counterparts, Chicago's Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, combine for 11 catches, 184 yards and a touchdown. Bryant, meanwhile, snagged one more ball on the night to finish with two catches for 12 yards and the score.
"Shocked – shocked," was all Bryant could muster when asked what surprised him about the loss.
It's the latest chapter of an up-and-down season for Bryant. On one hand, he grabbed his 10th touchdown pass of the year, making him just the fourth Cowboy receiver to manage 10 or more touchdown catches in two separate seasons.
On the other hand, Monday night was the TIME time Bryant was held to fewer than YARDS yards in a game – a development he had no answer for.
"I can't even tell you – I don't think that's a question I can answer," he said.
Here are some more notes from Monday's loss in Chicago: [embedded_ad]
- The Cowboys are 3-5 all-time in games played at 21 degrees or lower. Monday night's game was the coldest regular season game in franchise history and the second-coldest game all-time.
- DeMarco Murray's 146 yards was the third-highest total of his career and his best effort in a road game.
- Jason Witten played in his 168th consecutive game against the Bears, which tied him with Cornell Green for the third-longest streak of consecutive games in Cowboys history. He's eight games behind Dale Hellestrae's second-place streak of 176 games and 28 games behind Bob Lilly's franchise-best streak of 196 games.