Three Keys for an Eagles Win Over the Bears
With Leodis McKelvin missing Monday's game with a hamstring injury, the Eagles can’t afford a bad game on defense.
With McKelvin out, the Eagles will lean on just three cornerback's this week, with Ron Brooks and Jalen Watkins getting extended time in his absence, putting much more pressure on the Eagles’ defense.
Philadelphia’s defense came up big in the season-opening 29-10 win over Cleveland. The Eagles limited the Browns to just 288 yards on offense, 108 of which came on two plays, meaning the Eagles held Cleveland to 180 yards on the rest of their plays.
One thing to note here, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has had success against Jim Schwartz Detroit-led defense, going 7-3 in 10 games against the Eagles defensive coordinator during his time in Detroit.
He tosses five touchdown passes and just five interceptions and in those 10 games, Schwartz's defense sacked Cutler 28 times (2.8 per game), so its not like they didnt get to him him.
"Schwartz does not blitz nearly enough," ESPN NFL reporter Sal Paolantonio said on the Sports Bash. "That's the problem."
The first difference for the Eagles is Cutler has a very strong arm and can deliver the football if given time, something Robert Griffin III doesn't do well - deliver the football. The Eagles contained Griffin or most of the day, he completed just 12-of-26 passes for 190 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception in the Browns' 29-10, Week 1 loss to the Eagles. With the Eagles coming off a good start stopping the pass last week, the strategy is pretty simple – Pressure Cutler and force him to make mistakes.
"Schwartz only Blitzed Griffin, two times on Sunday," Paolantonio said. "The fewest number of Blitz’s of any of the NFL teams in Week 1."
"They are going to have to bring pressure on Cutler, and with (Leodis) McKelvin possibly being out making them shorthanded in the secondary, it is going to be a issue. I think this is a bad match-up for the Eagles.”
The Eagles successfully took the passing game away from the Browns last week and will need to do the same this week and if they can, they should put themselves in position to be 2-0 after Monday Night.
Because the Bears defense is terrible.
"I think this is a game where both teams will have opportunities offensively," Paolantonio stated.
Here are three other things to look for Sunday.
• Expect a good game from Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin. The Eagles’ defensive ends will be matched-up against two of the worst, if not the worst pair of tackles in the NFL - Charles Leno and Bobby Massie. The trio combined for two sacks last week against the Browns, who feature Joe Thomas one of the better left tackles in football. The Bears do have one of the better interior lines in football, so how they approach Fletcher Cox should be interesting.
• Ryan Mathews, Brent Celek, Trey Burton should be more involved in the offense. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he plans to feed Ryan Mathews the ball, after running 22 times for 77 yards and one touchdown in the Eagles' Week 1 win over the Browns.
"It aids in everything you do offensively. He's such a powerful back," Pederson said. "But to keep feeding a guy like Ryan, he's so powerful and punishing that [at some point] it's going to take a toll defensively."
With Zach Ertz out this week, expect to see more fro Celek and Burton, especially the veteran Celek according to Paolantonio.
"I think he (Ertz) will be missed," admitted Paolantonio. "I see this as a big, big Brent Celek game. I think the Bears will do everything they can to try to get into Carson Wentz's kitchen. So I think this is a game where Celek plays not only a role as a blocker, but as a short-yardage pass catcher and a third-down option.
• Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks will be key to the game. Carson Wentz was the story in the win over the Browns, but he sure took a lot of hits and the Bears offer a little different challenge this week. This week, the Eagles interior offensive line will need to do a better job of protecting Wentz, this Bears defense can be beaten in the secondary.
"We had communication break-downs, we can't have that or we are going to get the kid killed," Eagles center Jason Kelce told Paolantonio.
"They had protection breakdowns, that were a direct result of communication issues," Paolantonio says. "Kelce and Wetz need to get on the same page in setting the protection."
"There were times when Wentz was brilliant at it, but there were other times where he was exposed and hit."
My Pick: Eagles 26, Bears 18
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