Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why I'm afraid of the Chicago Bears

I return to blogging with this game day entry.

Around the internet this week, there are a lot of people calling this game in the Eagles’ favor. The Bears aren’t very good on the road, but this game is going to be a challenge. I don’t see a lopsided game like some are predicting.

The Bears defense hasn’t been very good so far, but it’s still going to present difficulties for the Eagles offense. They run a defense similar to the fabled Tampa 2 scheme. This means that, for most of the game, the Chicago corners are going to be playing physical with our receivers and jamming them at the line. The Eagles have struggled with this so far in 2007. Their record when the defense doesn’t employ press coverage: 2-0. Their record when they do? 0-3.

It throws off the timing of the passing game. If the receivers aren’t quick or strong enough to get off the line, McNabb is going to take his three or five step drops and not find anyone open. That will make McNabb hold onto the ball too long, and he ends up on his back like we’ve seen throughout the year. Chicago has a great pass rush, so the line is going to have to hold up today.

If the Cover 2 has one weakness in pass defense, it’s how the middle of the defense is open. When the safeties are splitting the field deep and the corners are staying around the flats, the linebackers are relied on to cover just about the entire field. Ask any Tight End at any level of football, and they will tell you they love the Cover 2. It leaves seams and windows open in the defense for them to roam around and make plays. Unfortunately, the Eagles can’t take advantage of this weakness. LJ Smith is out again, and Matt Schobel and Brent Celek haven’t come close to matching Smith’s production so far.

If the Eagles are going to score a lot of points, they need to run the ball. Everyone says that every week, but it’s especially true today. Chicago’s run defense has been awful, and they’re really banged up. The middle of the defense hasn’t been strong for a couple years now, mostly because Tommie Harris spends a lot of time on the sideline and they have little depth behind him. They need to find a way to get as many as 35 carries for Westbrook, Buckhalter and maybe even Tony Hunt.

The Bears have one weapon on offense and special teams. I’m not worried about Brian Griese. He’s going to make his throws, but he’ll always make his share of mistakes. Cedric Benson hasn’t played up to his draft status and contract so far in his career. Muhammad’s physical, but the Eagles can handle him. Berrian’s fast, but the Eagles can handle him. Tight Ends haven’t had success against the Eagles all year, so I think Gocong can handle Olsen. They need to find a way to stop Devin Hester.

He’s obviously a weapon in the return game. This doesn’t bode well for the Eagles, whose coverage units have been mediocre at best in recent years. Gone are the days of someone racing down the field and making a huge hit inside the 20. The kick cover unit just makes you hope the other team doesn’t run one back. They need to do whatever it takes to contain the return game, whether it be punting it out of bounds every time or popping a kickoff up to an up man.

However, last week, Hester showed that he can make plays on offense. He caught an 80+ yard TD to tie up the game against Minnesota. I’m sure the Bears know the Eagles’ corners play sides, so if Lito Sheppard isn’t completely healthy and isn’t playing every snap on defense, I’m sure they’ll try and get Hester lined up against William James. That could be bad news for the Eagles, so hopefully Sheppard can go the whole game.

After all that, I still think the Eagles will win. They’re back at home where they had a little offensive success against Detroit, so hopefully they can duplicate it, or at least score more than 16 points. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this will be an easy game because Chicago’s record is bad though.

1 comment:

Mex said...

I picked the bears, I have no faith in the eagles off. any more