Chicago Bears roll Dallas Cowboys on Mike Ditka Night

By
Updated: December 9, 2013
Quarterback Josh McCown and the Chicago Bears offense were not stopped even once by the Dallas Cowboys.

Quarterback Josh McCown and the Chicago Bears offense were not stopped even once by the Dallas Cowboys.

Recap

The Chicago Bears went eight possessions without punting before kneeling the game out, rolled up 45 points, and demolished the visiting Dallas Cowboys on a frigid Monday night in December.

The game was close for most of the first half before the Chicago Bears scored ten points in the last two minutes to pull ahead 24-14, and then Chicago legend Mike Ditka fired up the crowd with a rousing halftime speech as he had his number retired.

The Chicago Bears responded by dominating the third quarter and putting the game out of reach, winning with ease while improving to 7-6 on the year and keeping themselves firmly in playoff contention.

Studs

Pick an offensive player, any offensive player.  Backup quarterback Josh McCown was magnificent, completing 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns.  He even added a rushing touchdown for good measure.

Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (five receptions, 84 yards, touchdown) and Brandon Marshall (six receptions, 100 yards) were also outstanding, as was running back Matt Forte (175 yards from scrimmage, touchdown).  Backup running back Michael Bush even got in on the action, rushing eight times for 39 yards and catching a 17 yard touchdown pass.

Much credit also has to go to the Chicago Bears offensive line, which opened up nice holes in the running game and provided McCown with excellent protection in the pocket.

Duds

The kickoff coverage unit for the Chicago Bears gave up a big return to Dallas return man Dwayne Harris, but the real dud of the night was the Chicago run defense.  Dallas ran the ball 28 times for 198 yards, continuing a long string of dominating rushing performances against the Chicago Bears.  This was a lovely win for Chicago, but they cannot expect to make the playoffs if they do not make their run defense at least somewhat respectable.

Injuries

Several players left the game for a short period of time on a cold night when every hit must have hurt tremendously, but the Chicago Bears were fortunate that nobody suffered a serious injury.

What’s next

Chicago is tied with the Detroit Lions atop the NFC North at 7-6, but Detroit owns the tiebreaker due to going 2-0 against Chicago this season. Therefore the Bears still need to make up a game on the Lions in the last three weeks, and they can’t forget the Green Bay Packers, who sit a half game back at 6-6-1.

The Chicago Bears head to Cleveland to take on the Browns next week in a tough but winnable road game, while they will certainly be monitoring the scoreboard as the Lions host the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay travels to Dallas.

About the author(s)

Johnathan Wood is a passionate fan of the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, and Northwestern Wildcats. He enjoys being the beat writer for the Bears at Water Cooler Sports and being obnoxiously unapologetic about how his favorite teams are more awesome than yours. Feel free to email him at if you have any comments or suggestions. Connect with .

298 comments
FalconsFan0125
FalconsFan0125 moderator

Hardcore fan. Unfortunate logo placement. 

Chocolate Honey O's
Chocolate Honey O's

Maybe if we're lucky some dumb team will "tamper" with Cutler and entice him away... then the Bears lose Cutler AND get draft picks. 

Rourke
Rourke

One website had this example: A running back rushes for 1000 yards last year. If his incentive kicks in at 1000 yards this year, it's LTBE. If it kicks in at 1200 yards, it's NLTBE.

Rourke
Rourke

How does the NFL Salary Cap treat cash incentives?

Answer: All incentives are included in team salary if they are "likely to be earned" (LTBE). LTBE incentives are performance levels that the player or team has reached in the previous year.


For example, if a quarterback threw twenty touchdowns last year and his incentive clause for this year is set at fifteen touchdowns, then this incentive is “likely to be earned.” Also, incentives that are in the sole control of the player, like non-guaranteed reporting bonuses and off-season workout and weight bonuses, are considered LTBE.


An impartial arbitrator will hear disputes between the owners and the players concerning what should be considered LTBE (especially for rookies or veterans who did not play in the prior year). Conversely, if a player did not reach the performance incentive in the previous year, the incentive is deemed "not likely to be earned" (NLTBE) and is not included in team salary.


To determine whether a clause is LTBE or NLTBE for Salary Cap purposes (i.e., not whether the player actually earned the incentive), it is necessary to look at the performance of the team in the prior season, not the current season.


For example, assume Player X receives an incentive bonus if he participates in 50% of the team’s offensive plays this season. Assume further that last season the team had 1,000 offensive plays. Therefore, as soon as Player X plays in 500 plays in the current season (or 50% of last year’s 1,000 plays), the incentive will be considered earned for Salary Cap purposes.


The same incentive is considered "not earned" if the same player in the current year only participated in one of the team’s first 502 offensive plays. In this situation, it would be impossible for the player to achieve the 50% incentive based on last year’s performance of 1,000 plays. It is important to remember that looking to last year’s performance level is only for Salary Cap purposes and will not affect the player's right to receive a bonus for his performance in the current year.


niemerg1
niemerg1

ok, i need sleep. night all

Rourke
Rourke

Basically, I am envious that the Bears have as good a backup as they do, and I hate all you assholes.

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

If Ratliff can continue to provide some strength in the middle and Briggs gets back I think that's huge for the defense.  With Anderson on the other side playing well Bostic would be so much better in the middle.

niemerg1
niemerg1

so, rourke, at what price would you keep Cutler?

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

if Cutler ends up leaving, it will most likely be that they franchise him and trade him to somebody for a similar deal as what Alex Smith got (2nd round pick, conditional 3rd that becomes a 2nd with certain incentives).  So they will likely get picks either way.

He's a top 10-15 QB in his prime; he's not walking away for nothing.

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

so Cutler's average season in CHI has been about 3k yards and 18 TD.  

If you can pay him big bonuses for 3500 yards and 25 TD without it counting against the cap, that would be incredible for the Bears.

But that seems like cap circumvention to me.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

unlikely to be earned?

That would just be UTBE.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

With Cutler missing so many games, this brings up a gray area. 

If they set incentives for him at 3500+ yards and 25 TDs, would those be considered LTBE?

Cutler has only hit those marks one time as a Bear, but if you combine his and McCown's numbers this year, they are at 22 and 3369.

niemerg1
niemerg1

why would a player ever want an incentive to be considered LTBE?

Rourke
Rourke

Read my comment above before you go.

Rourke
Rourke

And I am no Johnny-come-lately to the McCown bandwagon either. I liked what I saw out of him a couple of years ago and was surprised Chicago went with Jason Campbell. I always thought that was a mistake on their part.

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

Dude.

The Bears gave up 100 yards up the middle in the first half.

They fell behind by biting themselves in the ass and had to move away from the run.

And Romo had all day.

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

Anderson hasn't been playing well either, although his dip in play coincided with when he was asked to call plays (first year in this cover 2 system).

Getting Briggs back should help the whole LB core, which in turn helps the whole defense.

But I dunno if Briggs is even healthy enough to play this week. He didn't practice at all last week. Seems to be taking a LOOOOONG time to heal (this was week 7 in what they said was a 4-6 week injury)

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

He needs to stop overpursuing, but Greene has been far worse at that.  So, yeah, getting Briggs back will be big.

Also, Bass needs to play over McClellin.

niemerg1
niemerg1

is briggs supposed to be back next week?

Rourke
Rourke

I have said all along no more than $15 million a year. My main objection is to the figure of 40% guaranteed being thrown around. Make him earn the money with consistent, levelheaded play. Although considering what a career scrub like McCown has been able to accomplish in this system, I think it lowers Cutler's value a bit.

Rourke
Rourke

Does he have any realistic chance of hitting those figures at this point? If not, then they are NLTBE, perhaps even not earned already. But what were they considered at the beginning of the season? Of that I am not sure.

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

I'm banking on the fact that Emery and his contract guru understand all that shit.

Rourke
Rourke

I am trying to figure that out mysef.

niemerg1
niemerg1

it doesn't affect whether or not they get the incentive, and it would hurt the teams cap

niemerg1
niemerg1

eh...that was much more on the LBs than line...

Rourke
Rourke

I am not going gaga over McCown. I am not advocating that the Bears build their future around him. I am only saying that he might be a good transition quarterback to the quarterback of the future, while saving the Bears a ton of money that they can use to draft Forte's successor and rebuild the defense.

niemerg1
niemerg1

ok, i can agree with that. how do incentives work in contracts when they are reached exactly with regards to the cap?

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

so setting incentives at 4k yards and 25 TD--neither of which Cutler has reached since 2008 (yards) and 2009 (TD)--would be not likely to be earned, even though they are fairly likely if he plays all 16 games in this offense.  Interesting.

Rourke
Rourke

The rule of thumb seems to be basically this: Did the player reach those statistical benchmarks last season? If so, then the incentives are LTBE. If not, then they are NLTBE. The arbitrator has final say though.

Rourke
Rourke

The CBA talks about this on page 109. Still not sure why a player would care. It looks like the dispute is more likely to be between the team and the league.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

Also, if you project Cutler's numbers through 8 games over a full season, it would be 3816 and 26.

So, again, would those incentives be argued as "LTBE?"

It's an interesting case.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

"But what were they considered at the beginning of the season? Of that I am not sure."

That's why I said "gray area."  If Cutler played in every game, it's probably reasonable to say he could achieve those numbers with how well the offense is playing.  But the fact is, he hasn't.

I think that would be an interesting case to see argued with the arbitrator. 

Rourke
Rourke

Probably because of this:


No player can agree to a contract, renegotiation, or extension that expires before the last day of a season. If a player wants to terminate his contract, he must do so before the first day of any season. Moreover, renegotiated contracts are revalued for Salary Cap purposes at the time of the renegotiation. If at the time of the renegotiation an incentive bonus has already been reached, that bonus is considered Likely To Be Earned (LTBE). Also, any new or changed incentive bonuses renegotiated after the start of the regular season are automatically considered LTBE. Finally, if a player is paid any more than the minimum amount for off-season workout programs or classroom instruction, then the payment will be treated as a renegotiation.

Rourke
Rourke

I know my arguments sound weird sometimes, because fans tend to want the teams they hate to be bad. I don't. I root for all teams to be good -- I just root for the Packers to kick their asses even so. So I am genuinely not arguing against Cutler because I want the Bears to suffer. I think they can improve themselves by going in another direction. Of course, I am probably also full of shit, but hey.

niemerg1
niemerg1

i still say it was 70% LBs and 30% DL for the bad run D

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

The Dline got caught up in the wash in all of their counters that they seemed to exclusively run through the first half.

niemerg1
niemerg1

the LBs over pursued every damn play

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

Well I thought he was on track for playing tonight like Cutler but he wasn't cleared.  So I'm only going on that.

niemerg1
niemerg1

think or hope? i haven't heard anything

niemerg1
niemerg1

if they can get a legitimate #2, Forte could stick around a bit longer 

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

Bush is beyond expendable, with Ford waiting in the wings.

Rourke
Rourke

Sounds about right to me. Let Michael Bush go and groom another young buck who can take the load off Forte.

niemerg1
niemerg1

how many more years do you think Forte has? i see 2-3

Rourke
Rourke

No, screw that. MCCOWN FOR 2013 MVP!