RECORDS: Bears 3-4 Eagles 4-4
KICKOOFF: Noon Sunday
BRING BACK THE KELLY GREEN, DOOFUSES: Bleeding Green Nation
If it wasn’t bad enough the state of the Bears right now, Sunday is going to be filled with the kinds of stories and headlines that broadcasters love to reach for and beat into a pulp because they’re so easy. A playoff game from the previous season. Former players against their former teams. Struggling QBs. Questions over another kicker. You’re going to hear all of it Sunday, and probably by the time the second quarter starts you’ll be ready to go Elvis on your TV. And that might not even have anything to do with the actual play on the field. Then again, it might.
The Bears will roll into South Philly just about as big of a mess as they’ve been in…well, it’s really only been two years. They don’t know what they do on offense. They don’t know what they can do on defense at the moment. The special teams remain horrible. Their coach might actually be going Colonel Kurtz. And playing an opponent in similar straits didn’t do much for them last week. This time, they’re on the road.
The Eagles have some of the same problems, but they have the gloss of a Super Bowl and at least a passable defense of it still shining somewhat, at least buying everyone some time. Their quarterback at least needs it.
Carson Wentz went through some offseason character assassinations, some of which stem from him not being at the helm when the Eagles were achieving the business end of their success the past two years. There’s no Nick Foles now to lob up wounded prayers that no one can seem to get their hands on except those clad in green (still think Eddie Jackson would have won that game last January, and this is about all I have to hold onto now), so it’s all on Wentz. Our own Tony Martin documented how Wentz has been a bit all over the map this season.
Still, the Eagles have done a very good job of protecting Wentz, much better than Nagy has done with Mitchell. The Eagles have ramped up their rushing attack as the season has gone along, and they rank third in the amount of times they run the ball on first and second down in close games. Which is where NARRATIVE #1 comes in, and that will be Jordan Howard. He has steadily improved as the games have racked up, and with some Bears fans and media still befuddled at his trade and the Bears inability to get David Montgomery on track outside of last week, you can bet this is going to be harped on consistently by whatever meatbag is in the broadcast booth. If it’s Thom Brennaman again, he’ll probably be in a Howard Eagles jersey.
And as we’ve seen, the Bears haven’t exactly been a Spartan phalanx against the run this year. Which means Chuck Pagano is going to have to come up with something, which might leave the Bears even more vulnerable to some big shots to possibly returning firework DeSean Jackson along with shorter throws to another old friend in Alshon Jeffery and Julie Ertz’s husband in the seams. Fun times.
On the flip side of the ball, it’s once again a balance of whether the Bears catch a break in that they won’t face a hellion of pass rushers or the Eagles absolutely jonesing to get a look at the Bears offensive line. The Eagles have been pretty good against the run, which means Mitch is probably going to have to make some throws and you’re already hiding in the bathroom with a bottle of Old Crow and a shotgun. The Birds went heavy on man-coverage last week in terrible conditions in Buffalo against Josh Allen, daring him to make accurate throws in the wind. It’s not their usual forte, but there’s also no reason to think they won’t double up on that given that the entire league, country, world, and possibly a few alien civilizations feel that Trubisky can’t hit a bull in the ass with a banjo when the chips are down.
Which means we’ll get a whole lot more stories and narratives about last year’s playoff matchup, and how the offense let the defense down, how they missed a kick to win it, how Trubisky didn’t make enough plays in the first half to win the game, and how perhaps something broke that day with this team that has yet to heal.
All that said, it’s not like the Eagles secondary has been great, they’ve taken the ball away just about as much as the Bears have (i.e. not enough) and Allen Robinson should be getting open a lot of they’re going to insist on man-coverage a ton. Let him make the plays.
For no reason whatsoever, this feels like a game the Bears are going to win for no reason whatsoever. Other than football can be truly stupid, I guess. Everything points to the Eagles winning. They’re at home, they won last week, and they have the voodoo signs of last year. They seem to have found something of a formula for themselves last week in running the ball, which is ahead of the Bears. However, this is the Eagles and they’re always capable of throwing in a clunker, as evidenced by them getting crushed by the Vikings and Cowboys back-to-back (though both were on the road). But they’ve also lost to the Lions at home.
For the Bears, the season very well might be gone already so calling this a last stand is probably not accurate. Still, a loss here could very well send this team to oblivion, especially a bad one. A win with a home game against Detroit waiting at least allows everyone to keep breathing for a time. And I think we all want to believe last week was bottom. If it wasn’t…well, I already told you about the Old Crow and the shotgun.
“Oh my god that’s DJ Yung Milwaukee’s music!”
Imma let you finish (oh wait you did), but I’ve got some piping hot takes I’d like to toss in here, because like Randy Orton on Monday night, I gotta wait until minute 19 of your 20 minute match to waltz in and hit you with an RKO to give you a DQ win.
I think your last couple paragraphs are super telling, because you’re right- the Eagles sometimes lay an egg, but these Bears are Mancow from those Eagleman commercials: they have already crashed the car on which the egg is laid. The Eagles could play a stinker and beat the Bears, similarly to how the Packers, Chargers, and to a lesser extend Raiders all played poorly enough to lose but had the Bears nobly snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
The key to beating the Eagles defense is through the air, because as you mentioned they have a fairly stout run defense. Naturally, this doesn’t play to the strengths of the Bears offense. The key to beating the Eagles offense is to make them one-dimensional, which also would require a strong start offensively. The projected game script doesn’t favor the visiting team, but as last night’s 49ers/Cardinals game proved, a QB with decent mobility that can step up and away from the pass rush can make the big play if the blitz loses contain. The only hope I have that this is a possibility is how crisply Anthony Miller was running on Sunday, and there is certainly a chance he can break off a route and turn a busted play into a big one, which will inevitably end with him being tackled on the 5-yard line and the Bears settling for three points.
While I’m here, you’re partially right in your assessment that Eddie Jackson puts the Bears over the edge, because while that might be debatable, if both Jackson and Bryce Callahan were playing that game ends differently for sure. Jackson hasn’t had the opportunity to make his signature breaks on the ball since this year’s pass rush is lacking, and Buster Skrine isn’t really blowing minds as a replacement for Callahan.
This game has “letdown” written all over it, but hey we’ve been let down since London so why worry? I’m more interested to see what Nagy does now that the season is getting away from this team from a play-calling perspective. This team is on the verge of being dangerous because they have nothing left to lose.