The Bears don't appear to have a go-to receiver – or to need one.
Devin Aromashodu was the leading wide receiver in the opener with five catches for 71 yards, while running back Matt Forte caught seven balls for 151 yards. Against the Cowboys, wide receivers led the way. Johnny Knox had four catches for 86 yards, and Devin Hester had four receptions for 77 yards and a TD. Aromashodu did not catch a pass vs. the Cowboys. Hester was targeted just once in the opener. It didn't matter. The offense flourished in both games.
"[Since offensive coorinator] Mike [Martz] got here with this offense, I don't think you need a No. 1," said quarterback Jay Cutler, who has thrown five TD passes and just one interception this season. "I don't think you need that guy because the ball is going in so many directions."
Tight end Greg Olsen had four catches in the opener for just 37 yards, but against the Cowboys his only catch was for a 39-yard TD. So not only are the Bears utilizing different receivers, they're deploying them in different roles.
Cutler believes that, in Martz's offense, it may well be an advantage to have a variety of viable options, rather than a clear-cut, go-to guy.
"I think it's almost even a bigger advantage to have what we have," Cutler said, "a lot of weapons. We're creating so many matchups for guys. It keeps teams off balance. They don't know where we're going or where we are headed or what we're doing in some of these formations, so it's working out to our advantage. We have a guy like Mike Martz who knows how to take advantage of all that."
Olsen was not supposed to have much of a role in Martz's offense. Conventional thinking said the tight end was just an afterthought in his scheme, but Olsen had the catch that turned around the fortunes of the offense on Sunday. That pass was designed for him in that specific situation, and it worked to perfection.
"If you just execute and do exactly what he says to do, most times we're going to be in a pretty good position to succeed," Olsen said of Martz's system. "I think that play was a great example of that."
That game was also a great example of the offense adapting to a difficult situation. The Cowboys were bringing all kinds of pressure in passing situations on the Bears' first three possessions. Some teams and some coordinators would have gone conservative at that point, trying to stop the blitzing by running the ball. But Martz kept throwing it. He just called for quicker throws that attacked the area left vulnerable by the blitzers.
"That goes back to our playbook," Cutler said, "of having all these plays and carrying all this stuff just for circumstances like [that]. Whenever some of the stuff isn't working, we can rely on some stuff that we practiced down the road. [Martz] can dial it up, and the guys know exactly what's going on. We did a little of that, we changed some stuff on the run, made some adjustments up front and everyone reacted to it properly.
"I have all the confidence in Mike and his play-calling ability, giving us the right plays and making the proper adjustments, which we did."
No one gave the Bears' offensive line much credit heading into this season, and, although there's still a long way to go, that unit has made strides toward respectability. If the group can handle blitz pressure as well as it did after the first three series, it will force defenses to think twice before coming after Cutler.
"I think people think that our offensive line can't handle it," said Cutler, who was sacked just once Sunday. "I think they can. I think they're going to do that, and we're going to hit some stuff quick. We're going to get the ball in some of our play-makers' hands, and you saw what we could do."
OT Frank Omiyale
NEWS AND NOTES
It wasn't just that Frank Omiyale had to move from right tackle to left tackle when Chris Williams suffered a hamstring injury on the third play of the game Sunday.
Omiyale also had to contend with DeMarcus Ware, who is considered by some the best pass rusher in the NFL after picking up 31 sacks over the previous two seasons.
"The stress level definitely went up a couple of notches," said Omiyale, who made one start at left tackle in 2008 with the Panthers. "But you have to do your job. I wanted to win the game, and that's what I had my focus on."
Ware did not add to his impressive sack total, and the Cowboys did not drop Cutler again after the first series. Initially, Kevin Shaffer took over at left tackle on the Bears' second possession, but he was flagged for a false start, and on the next play for holding, although that was negated by an offsetting Cowboys penalty. On the next series, Shaffer went to right tackle, Omiyale went to left tackle and quarterback Cutler lived happily ever after, throwing for 277 yards with his best passer rating as a Bear: 136.7.
Omiyale spent all last season playing left guard for the Bears and started 12 games with mixed results. He was switched to right tackle in the offseason and appears more comfortable there, but left tackle is considered the more difficult position because it usually has to handle the opponent's best pass rusher, as was the case on Sunday.
"It can be as difficult as you make it to be," Omiyale said. "I just told myself, Stay cool. It's something that needs to be done, and I took pride in them feeling like I could make that change."
Cutler appreciated the job the six-year veteran did.
"Going against a guy like DeMarcus Ware, you always have to be wary of him," Cutler said. "Frank hadn't played left [tackle] in a long, long time. He had been practicing right so hard. It's tough in the middle of a game for a guy to switch over like that and then go against DeMarcus Ware. You have to be proud of his effort. I though he played phenomenal down the stretch." ...
Olsen's 39-yard TD catch got the Bears' offense rolling, and the tight end said it was a perfect example of Martz's scheme and his play calling. It also cooled off the Cowboys' blitzing, which was exposed on the play.
"That was our built-in hot route for that play and coach dialed it up, knowing they were in a blitz and played man coverage," Olsen said. "Jay got the ball out real fast to me, just a couple yards off the line of scrimmage. I turned my head and he popped it to me, and everyone else was in man-to-man [coverage] and was running with their guy. I don't even think they knew I had the ball, so I just was able to beat the guy that was rotating down to guard me."
There was no doubt in Cutler's mind it was the game's pivotal play.
"We were reeling a little bit," Cutler said. "The crowd was getting into it. They were getting into it defensively. It just takes one play. We talk about it all the time. It just takes one play to turn the momentum around." ...
Cutler's 136.7 passer rating against the Cowboys was his fourth in a row over 100, going back to the final two games of 2009.
In those four games, Cutler has thrown 13 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. More importantly, the Bears have won all four games. His teams are now 17-0 when Cutler has a passer rating of 100 or higher.
"I'm looking forward to seeing exactly how far he can go," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of Cutler. "This is how Jay's been playing. We have weapons, and he's doing a great job with them." ...
Defensive tackle Tommie Harris took Sunday's impressive victory in stride. "We expected to win," he said. "We expected to come in here and do this."
The Bears opened as 9-point underdogs, but Harris said there was no time to savor the upset.
"We're getting ready for Green Bay," said Harris, who wasn't satisfied. "We played physical from the start of it, but we have to get better. We have to move on, take this win in stride and get ready for the next opponent."
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