Bears brace for mobile Romo

Caption
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett tips a pass by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on Sunday in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys host the Bears on Monday night. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

LAKE FOREST – Tony Romo's rushing numbers look like that of a slow-footed pocket passer.

Romo has one rushing attempt in two career games against the Bears. He lost 1 yard.

But Bears defenders know better than to confuse speed with mobility.

Romo is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL when it comes to extending plays in the pocket. His mission is not to scramble for big gains, but rather to elude pass rushers while waiting for his receivers to find openings against the opposing secondary.

It’s something that Romo has worked on since his days at Eastern Illinois.

“I think you’re always working to develop everything,” Romo said Thursday during a conference call with Bears reporters. “As far as certain instinctual things that you’re given, you use that with what you can, [but] there’s also a way to improve in that area.”

So far, Romo’s improvements have not been enough to lift the Cowboys.

Romo finished last season with a 102.5 passer rating, which was the best of his career and fourth in the league behind Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. But the Cowboys finished with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

The Bears (2-1) are eager to maintain at least a share of first place in the NFC North while sending the conference rival Cowboys (2-1) back to .500 Monday night in Arlington, Texas. A swarming pass rush featuring Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Shea McClellin and others could be their key to success.

The Bears’ defense leads the NFL with 14 sacks in three weeks. That is two sacks more than the Green Bay Packers, who are tied for second in the league with 12 sacks, and it’s twice as many as the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, who have seven sacks apiece.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Romo’s mobility would be important against the Bears.

“I think it’s really important for a quarterback to be able to get out of trouble from the pocket,” Garrett said. “Guys will do it differently based on what their strengths are. Some guys are just more about getting the ball out of their hand, and other guys are more about extending the play. I think Tony has shown an ability to do both. …

“Jay Cutler has similar abilities. He can extend plays and throw the ball all over the park. I think with all the pressure packages that teams play these days, being able to handle that one way or another is really important. We’re lucky that Tony has some of those strengths.”

Then again, the Bears are lucky to have such a dominant pass rush.

"We've got one of the best D-lines in the league,” Bears nickelback D.J. Moore said. “I think they’ll do fine."

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