What to look for in the Bears-Cowboys tilt at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night:
Bears cornerback Tracy Porter figures to see plenty of Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant even if he doesn’t shadow him. But unlike high-profile corners like Josh Norman and Darrelle Revis, he’s all business.
“I want him every down, but I don’t see it as a personal matchup. I see it as a challenge,” Porter said. “I’ve been in the league nine years. I’ve never been afraid of a challenge. I love the challenge of going against an opposing team’s No. 1 receiver.”
With rookie quarterback Dak Prescott playing for injured Tony Romo, Bryant has eight receptions for 110 yards and no touchdowns in two games.
“He can go up and attack the ball,” Porter said. “He’s an athletic guy. The deep ball, the jump ball is one of the biggest things he likes to do, because he can. He can jump and make the athletic catdches. You definitely have to be at home in your coverages against him.”
Overall, the Bears have been just OK with Jay Cutler (50-49 in eight seasons), but they’re much worse without him. Bears’ back-up quarterbacks are 5-10 with a 67.8 passer rating (19 touchdowns, 20 interceptions) since Cutler was acquired in 2009. Back-ups other than Josh McCown are 1-7 with a 24.1 rating (eight touchdowns, 19 interceptions.
PLAYER TO WATCH
If the Bears are intent on establishing a running game with Cutler out, they might turn to rookie Jordan Howard, who showed potential as a hard-driving back who can get tough yards in tight situations. Howard, a fifth-round draft pick from Indiana, gained 22 yards on three carries last week against the Eagles. Howard acknowedged he has work to do in pass protection — a huge key to getting on the field in this offense.
“I feel like I handled the opportunity pretty well, but there are things I can improve on,” Howard said. “I wanted to show them when the moment comes, I’m ready for it.”
The Bears are minus-3 in turnover ratio after two games. Only the Giants (minus-4) and Buccaneers (minus-6) are worse. The Bears defense has one takeaway — Tracy Porter’s interception on the seventh play from scrimmage against the Texans in Week 1.
“It’s an emphasis,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Ultimately, we just have to find the ball a little bit more. And that comes with better play and better coaching.”