The Dallas Cowboys head into the bye week sitting at 6-2, primarily due to the play on the defensive side of the ball.
Although the team's biggest strength, one problem Dan Quinn needs to try and clean up with this unit is defending the run. After eight weeks, the Cowboys have given up the seventh most rushing yards this season with 1,081.
The Bears No. 1 rushing attack had its way on the ground Sunday, but the offense picked up the defense for one of the first times this season.
Dallas allowed 240 yards rushing and surrendered 29 points on the scoreboard, the most the defense has given up all season, primarily due to the inability to stop the run.
Khalil Herbert was their leading rusher with 99, Justin Fields had 60, and David Montgomery chipped in with 53. They also got 33 from Velus Jones Jr.
We all understand how dominant this defense is, but the Cowboys will have to find a formula to help defend the massive outburst from teams on the ground, or at some point, it will cost them late in games.
The Cowboys have allowed at least 117 yards on the ground in six of their eight games.
When the Cowboys return from the bye week, they will face three more top 10-ranked rushing offenses in football—the Giants, Eagles, and Jaguars. They will also have to find a way to slow down Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and Jonathan Taylor.
They made a move last week to help address the problem in trading for Johnathan Hankins from the Raiders; the 6'3, 340lb defensive tackle will help clog the middle. Still, a problem they continue to struggle with is defending mobile quarterbacks.
Jalen Hurts and Daniel Jones are on the horizon again. If the Cowboys want any chance of winning this division, they will need to at least limit their production and force them into passing situations; that is when the defense is at its best.
We are seeing teams with a run-heavy approach because they're trying to avoid the Cowboys' pass rush and get into manageable third downs, and allowing nearly five yards per carry does not bold well.
So that poses the question; how does Quinn try to attack the struggling rush defense after they return from the bye?
I would have a better answer if I were a professional coach. As a fan, I can only try and guess.
The first thing is rest; Micah Parsons and the crew get some time to heal before possibly the most challenging part of the schedule when they return.
They answered the bell and did a tremendous job holding this team up when everyone assumed the season was over after one week.
Quinn could try and move Parsons around some more, and he is seeing a double team on almost every down he rushes the passer anyway. Let him use his complete skill set and do nothing but keep his eyes on the football and attack.
DeMarcus Lawrence is currently third in run-stop percentages among all NFL defenders who have played at least 80 snaps against the run. I know he is a hand-in-the-dirt player, but stopping the run can be found with this group.
Maybe the formula was found against the Bears. Get out to a hot start and hope teams will be forced into passing situations.
Chicago continued to run the ball even down a couple scores because that is what they do better than anyone in football, but if Dallas gets ahead of other offensives, that might force them to get away from the run.
If the Cowboys can sync up both sides of the ball, few teams can even hang with them, but until I see consistent results in stopping the run, it will be the one thing I worry about from such a great defense.