Randy Galloway

December 7, 2013

Murray key against Bears, almighty Hawk

The Cowboys face the chilling prospect of a Monday night at Soldier Field.

One unusual thing I noticed the past few days — beyond, of course, 3 inches of frozen sleet covering the front yard — was a very worrisome trend involving our local professional football team.

Don’t ever go giddy on the Dallas Cowboys.

Cautious optimism is maybe acceptable. But giddy is never acceptable, and hasn’t been in nearly 20 years.

Lately, there’s been a couple of wins, and there’s also been a couple of favorable trends, and that’s led to a woo-woo atmosphere of everything is good again.

No, it’s not.

But it is interesting, and in this Jerry Jones era, anytime his team is interesting this late in the season, then, admittedly, that’s progress.

The Cowboys climb on the chartered jet Sunday and head for Chicago, and speaking of favorable trends, linebacker Sean Lee will be back in action Monday night, while Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler remains sidelined.

It’s a road game that tilts toward the Cowboys, mainly because the December difference in the two clubs is Tony Romo being totally healthy. A good quarterback — and don’t argue with me about that description of Romo — who has his health in December is a major advantage.

Granted, Romo and the offense have also been erratic, an ongoing worrisome issue.

Otherwise, however, the Bears can match the Cowboys, or maybe even exceed the Cowboys in legitimate excuse-making, when it comes to an injury wipeout on the defensive side.

Offensively, there’s a similar philosophy, except the Bears will attempt to run it more, and except Josh McCown is a career backup at quarterback. (Do note, however, that McCown has been throwing for 300-plus yards lately, meaning he’s not fangless, and also has the receivers who can hurt you.)

But I don’t want to bore you this morning with a bunch of “matchup” stuff. Anyway, the Monday night encounter won’t be about statistical info.

It will be about the almighty Hawk.

Ever been to Chicago in the winter time?

If so, you have dealt with, up close and personal, the almighty Hawk.

The NFL does nobody any favors when it schedules a night game at Soldier Field this late in the season, but obviously the Bears see it as a plus factor, particularly when the opposition comes from a down south team.

The weather forecast for Monday night shows temps in the high teens and dropping at kickoff, but that won’t be the chilling story. In Chicago, it’s always about the Hawk, or technically, the wind factor.

If the weather guys are right, the wind will be coming off the lake at nearly 20 mph.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a serious wind chill in the Meadowlands when the Cowboys won on the road against the Giants.

But as any seasoned traveler will testify, there is only one Hawk, the one that blows off Lake Michigan and haunts the canyons of downtown Chicago in the winter time.

Or as the late great singer Lou Rawls, a Chicago native, once said, via a recording, “the hawk is a giant razorblade blowing down the street and no amount of clothes can help you.”

Back to football, briefly.

If the Chicago forecast for Monday night holds, with that much wind in those low temps, the Cowboys will have to be dependent on one area of the offense that has been the most sporadic.

Can they run it? They did in the last game, but that was against the Raiders. With the Bears’ defense suffering from injury wreckage, the NFL statistical sheet tells us it’s an awful unit at stopping the run.

Eventually, the outcome will be placed in Romo’s right hand. He will have to be effective at throwing it. But under the weather conditions, the guts of the offensive focus will come down to DeMarco Murray and the offensive line.

There’s no use to mention it, since Lance Dunbar is now done for the season with a knee injury, but I will bring it up anyway. What a perfect time Monday night would have been for the change-of-pace Dunbar offered.

Any form of giddiness involving the Cowboys is not acceptable, but another advantage for the Chicago visit is having had 10 days off since the Raiders win.

This game, however, will be about Soldier Field in December, with the frigid temps as expected for this time of year, and with the almighty Hawk slicing and dicing all forms of humanity as it comes howling in off the lake.

The Hawk is unbeaten forever in Chicago. The Bears, not so much these days.

But if the Cowboys can at least survive the Hawk (hello, DeMarco), then a win is a good possibility.

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