Running the Numbers: Cutler's Stats Hampered by O-Line

Heading into their Monday night showdown with the Chicago Bears, the Cowboys find themselves at an extremely pivotal point in the season. There's a massive difference between 2-2 and 3-1, even if it's more mental than anything else. Let's take a look at some of the interesting stats the Bears bring to Big D in Week 4.

Offense

5.4: The Bears' net yards-per-attempt on passing plays.

The Bears have a quality quarterback in Jay Cutler and some weapons on the outside, but the offensive line hasn't been able to provide Cutler with proper protection. Chicago has posted the sixth-worst net YPA in the NFL through three weeks.

10.6: The percentage of Jay Cutler's dropbacks that have resulted in a sack.

If the Cowboys can force the Bears into a lot of obvious passing situations, they're going to get to him. If you think the Cowboys' offensive line has been poor this season, consider that the Bears' line has allowed a sack at nearly twice the rate.

3.5: Chicago's yards-per-carry through three games – the same number as Dallas.

Neither the Bears nor Cowboys have been able to get much going on the ground thus far in 2012. Nonetheless, both teams rely on the run to set up the pass, which is why the lack of rushing success is reflected in the passing stats for both squads.

1.4: The drop in YPC from Matt Forte to Michael Bush.

Running back Matt Forte may or may not play for Chicago this week, and his absence would be a huge one. When healthy, Forte is one of the most complete running backs in all of football and a major upgrade over Michael Bush.

6.5: Percentage of Jay Cutler's passes that have been intercepted.

No quarterback has thrown an interception at a higher rate than Cutler.

27.6: Jay Cutler's passer rating when pressured.

Cutler hasn't been his usual self so far this season, but he isn't totally to blame. He's getting pressured at an alarming rate, and he isn't making the best decisions when he senses that pressure. No quarterback excels with defenders in his face, but consider that Tony Romo's passer rating when pressured is still 88.6. Cutler has been pressured on an incredible 40.6 percent of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

11: Number of pressures yielded by rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi.

Carimi has been Chicago's worst offensive lineman through three weeks. The rookie, who has committed three penalties and allowed more pressures than all but four offensive tackles, will be matched up primarily on Anthony Spencer.

19.4 percent: Percentage of Cutler's passes thrown 20-plus yards.

One of the reasons the Bears have been incapable of keeping Cutler upright is that they love to take shots downfield. Cutler has thrown more deep passes than any quarterback in the NFL, and the number would likely be more if he wasn't sacked 11 times. Look for the Bears to adjust with a lot of bubble screens, slants, and other quick-hitting throws.

Defense

4.8: The net yards-per-attempt allowed by Chicago on passing plays.

While the Bears have struggled throwing the football, their defense has stifled opposing offenses' passing attacks as well. Only three teams have allowed fewer YPA than Chicago. One of them is Dallas (4.7 net YPA).

3.8: Yards-per-carry allowed by Chicago.

It isn't like running the ball on the Bears is a piece of cake, however. The defense has allowed next to nothing on the ground, including only one rushing touchdown.

9: Turnovers forced.

Only one team has forced more turnovers than the Bears. While takeaways are often a rather volatile statistic, Chicago has proven year after year that they're adept at stripping the ball-carrier and picking off the quarterback.

14: Sacks by the Bears' defense.

No team has compiled more sacks than the Bears. Julius Peppers is the obvious playmaker for Chicago, but the Cowboys will need to keep an eye on rookie Shea McClellin as well. Dallas has garnered half as many sacks as Peppers & Co.

74.7: The percentage of snaps that Julius Peppers has lined up on the right side of the defense.

In most passing situations, Peppers will be stationed right over left tackle Tyron Smith. Smith has struggled in two of the Cowboys' three games this season, so you may see a lot of "left-handed" formations from Dallas that allow tight end Jason Witten to line up next to Smith to help him control Peppers.

27: The number of times cornerback Tim Jennings has been targeted.

Jennings has been thrown at more often than any cornerback in the NFL, but he also may be playing better football than just about any cornerback. Jennings is allowing only a 33.3 percent completion rate, 3.52 YPA, and get this, a 4.9 passer rating. Yup, on the 27 throws to Jennings' receiver, opposing quarterbacks have posted just a 4.9 passer rating, due in large part to Jennings' four interceptions.

Special Teams

1: The number of plays it takes Devin Hester to change a game.

The ultimate X factor. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys punt to Hester. If they do, they'll need to make sure they do everything in their power to corral him before he gets into the open field. No player has a superior ability to alter the course of a game than Hester.

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