Eagles Shouldn’t Underestimate the Bears
Following a season-opening victory at home against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) hit the road for the first time in the 2016 regular season to take on the Chicago Bears.
Given the Week 1 results and hype surrounding Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, it would be easy to think the Eagles could to overlook their opponent, who is coming off a 23-14 loss to Houston last week. That coupled with the fact that Philadelphia has won six of the last 10 contests in the regular season series vs. Chicago, including a 54-11 Sunday night win two seasons ago.
With quarterback Jay Cutler leading the way, the Bears should not be overlooked, they have some intriguing weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
Cutler is very talented, but has been very inconsistent. He can make plays with his deadly arm which was on display in the first half last week against Houston, completing 10-of-13 for 156 yards and a touchdown. However, he completed just six passes in the second half and threw an interception, finishing 16-of-29 passes for 216 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
The Bears quarterback is 2-2 in his career against Philadelphia, but its his weapons that could cause the Eagles problems this week. The Bears feature 6-foot-3 wide out Alshon Jeffery, who had four catches for 106 yards in Week 1. If Leodis McKelvin can't go for the Eagles, Jeffery could be matched-up with Jalen Mills. Another crafty receiver for Cutler is Eddie Royal, the slot receiver hauled in four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown Week 1 against the Texans.
Another interesting weapon is Kevin White, the No. 7 overall pick in last year's draft is another 6-foot-3 wide receiver who missed last season with a stress fracture in his shin.
White finished with just three catches for 34 yards in Week 1, but his size could give the Eagles secondary some problems.
The Bears have some very good weapons on the outside, but running back Jeremy Langford rushed 17 times for 57 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against the Texans and could be more involved this week against the Eagles.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears are vulnerable, and this is where the Eagles can have a decided advantage.
Led by Defensive Coordinator Viv Fangio, the Bears bring a 3-4 defense that Eagles coach Doug Pederson knows they are going to bring a little more than the Browns.
"You know, I tell you what, their pass rushers on the outside [OLB Willie] Young, [OLB Sam] Acho, guys like that on the outside, it's a different animal than we had last week," Pederson explained. "
"I think they can really bend and attack the quarterback."
The Bears also added a pair of linebackers this offseason, Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, to help their run defense which gave up 4.5 yards per carry and 120 yards per game on the ground in 2015.
"It's usually a multiple front," Pederson said. "It's an under front. They will play a little over. He's also a 3-4 style, true 3-4 base defense. You get into their sub-defenses, he'll show you different odd looks, along with his even looks."
While Bears coach John Fox is a defensive minded-guy, Pederson thinks that there are areas that his offense can exploit.
"So we have to be on point with how we identify it," Pederson said about what defense the Bears are running. "And the thing is, too, with some of these defenses that do this, it's a lot of stuff around the box, but zone coverage on the back end. So, if you know that and you can protect it, then there are some opportunities to complete the ball down the field and we get a chance to work on it today."
Monday night will be the Bears regular season home-opener and the first Monday night start for Carson Wentz. The energy levels will be sky-high, we'll see how Wentz handles the atmosphere, that he seems to be doing well with so far. Can he focus and block out some of the excitment that comes with getting all this new-found attention.
"Well, if they’re not talking about you, something is wrong," Pederson stated.
"That's always been my philosophy. It is exciting to be mentioned that way but at the same time, listen, we're on to Chicago. It's another game week, another set of circumstances. It's Monday Night Football, it's a national spotlight. There's more media attention. Everything about this week is different than last week. So we have to refocus. I have to refocus."
Hopefully for the Eagles, everyone is talking about Wentz again on Tuesday.