FRISCO, Texas – The Bears are coping with no shortage of injuries heading into this Week 3 matchup.
That said – don't make the mistake of thinking there aren't any good players on this team. The Cowboys should remember that some from memory, since they last played this team in 2014. Several talented players from that roster are still with the Bears, and they've also added a talented new pass rusher.
Here's my preview of which players I'm worried about entering this matchup:
Weapon: WR Alshon Jeffery
The No. 1 thing to know about Jeffery is his impressive physical makeup. He possesses a big frame and long arms – both of which can be intimating to a defensive back when he first encounters him. He looks big on tape but even bigger in person.
For a man his size, he can make all the catches. He will go high and low to grab a ball, and he has good hands to pluck the ball. Wide catch radius. Snatches screens and gets quickly up the field. Adjusts well to the ball in flight. Natural receiving skills.
Something I worry about for these Cowboys cornerbacks is that Jeffery plays like a power forward at times, gaining position then out-jumping defender for the ball. On tape, Jay Cutler feels totally comfortable throwing the ball up to him and hoping for the best. He has the skill and the size to make the defender have to go through him to get the ball. He will drive the corner off the ball, then settle down to work back to the ball.
You have to respect his ability to catch the deep ball. He runs all the routes: hitches, slants, digs, verticals. There are snaps where he rounds off the patterns, but he has improved in this area since his days at South Carolina. He has power and some quickness to make people miss in space. Hard man to bring down one-one-one in the open field.
Jeffery is a guy who must get off press with strength and power, then get into his route. He will get tall off the line at times. Fierce downfield blocker. Positions and walls off corner support. Not afraid to stick his nose in the action.
He has always been a high target receiver that struggled with injuries in 2015, but he looks healthy now.
Nemesis: OG Kyle Long
There's no doubt that Long is the best player the Bears have along their offensive line. He is built more like an offensive tackle than guard -- tall and long. He was a converted defensive linemen in college and a baseball player. He had plenty of red flags about him coming out of college, but he has settled in nicely in the NFL.
Long is more of an athlete than a power player. He has trouble when he has to deal with a defender that plays him heavy the majority of the game. Better when he can play on the edge or half man. He's not going to drive his man off in the running game, but he will position himself to keep himself between the ball and the defender. He likes to shield the defender and make him try to go through him. That said, he can get to the second level and make his blocks. When he gets in trouble, he will play top-heavy and over the top of his feet. He will lean on the rusher to try and slow them down, which gets him in trouble.
I didn't see a player that has much lower body power. There are snaps where you see him get walked back in the pocket when he has to deal with a bull rusher. He could have problems dealing with the Cowboys defensive tackles that play with power. His balance is not always poor because of his athletic ability, but he will surprise you how many times he ends up on the ground. Knows how to hold as a blocker both run and pass – this is by far his best trait.
Under the Radar: LB Leonard Floyd
Floyd was a "tweener" coming out of Georgia in the 2016 NFL Draft. I thought his best position was as an outside linebacker and nickel pass rusher. I'm not surprised that a 3-4 team like the Bears took him. He was a projected first-round player by those that follow the draft, and that is where he was taken.
As far as the Cowboys are concerned, Floyd was the second-best-rated linebacker on their board -- only Myles Jack was ahead of him. Tall, thin build. But I really wasn't sure how much weight he could add to his frame. His best trait is his quickness – he can really get off the ball and run. He puts pressure on the blocker right now. He's very sudden in the way that he plays. He can close it down off the edge when he sees it. He has a feel for how to avoid blocks, but he has to be careful when he does get hooked up. This is not the strongest point-of-attack player. That was a problem for him in college, but so far he has done a nice job of making himself small and playing to his strength by staying on the move.
One of the most intriguing things about Floyd is he has some length and leverage. He can redirect and change directions. He was good at using spin moves to free himself. He has some bend and lean around the corner, and he has a feel for how to get to the quarterback.
For the time being, he's all arms and legs as a pass rusher. Relentless effort and chase. Have to make sure that he is completely accounted for because he does show the ability to be able to finish plays.