Ciarán’s Comments: Bears vs Eagles

Ciarán’s Comments: Bears vs Eagles

As always, I begin my preview of the upcoming Bears vs Eagles game with a look back at their previous match against the Detroit Lions..

The Chicago Bears went into the game against the Lions on the back of an utterly embarrassing performance against the Packers in week 10 of the regular season. The defense allowed Brett Hundley to look like Aaron Rodgers and the offensive game plan resembled a high school football team. For fans to say there was little to no anticipation with the Detroit Lions coming to town would be an understatement. The confidence and quiet optimism about the 2017 Bears vanished after Week 10.

The Lions came into the game 2nd in the NFC North with the intent of making ground on the Minnesota Vikings, who they would then face on Thanksgiving. The Lions offensively for stretches of the game did not disappoint. Stafford looked in control for many parts of the game and was successfully able to make impressive and clutch throws to put the Lions over the edge. However, it was not a vaunted offense firing on all cylinders. The Bears defense got in the Lions’ face and even after losing Leonard Floyd with a torn MCL, the defense remained compact and kept the Bears competitive. While the Lions made some very impressive plays, they are not a super bowl contender. They can’t consistently run the football, their offensive line is average at best. However, defensively the Lions are strong and continue to make plays. One of those big plays was a fumbled snap by Trubisky. While many will say it’s a freak accident that the Lions scooped up the ball and ran it in for a TD. I believe that good players tend to be in the right place at the right time and that’s exactly what happened.

The Bears came out with a professional offensive game plan for the first time in 2017. It made a massive difference to the way the game played out. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen showed their impressive rushing skills, Adam Shaheen was given the ball and Trubisky made a series of impactful plays. I don’t think I’ve seen a Chicago quaterback do, what Mitchell Trubisky achieved on his 4th down run. He did everything to put the team in position to win the ballgame.

While he made a mistake with the fumbled snap and a few of his passes were innacurate, he perservered and made plays when the team needed him most. He got outside the pocket, he read the whole field, he dealt very well when he was blitzed. Trubisky has all the tools to be a very successful QB in the NFL. He just needs better coaching. The raw ability is there but now Chicago needs to find a coach that can truly teach him effectively and allow him to excel in the NFL.

The Bears in general played a very good game against the Lions considering the way the team performed against the Packers. However, the football game came down to 2 or 3 plays. However, as I mentioned last week. Bad teams find ways to lose. The Bears have been doing it throughout John Fox’s tenure with the Bears. From the 49ers loss against Blaine Gabbert, the last minute TD by the Jaguars in 2016 and a loss to the lowly Colts in 2016 to last weekend.

The game on the line, the rookie QB drives the team down into field goal range. Up stepped Connor Barth, and that was the last step he took in a Chicago Bears uniform. He kicked the ball so wide if we had two more goal posts he still would’ve missed.

The Bears have now brought in Brazilian kicker Cairo Santos to take over. Santos has one thing Barth doesn’t have, power. He’s kicked in clutch moments and if he is fully healthy it will give the Bears an opportunity to come away with points. The Bears are now 3-7 and going into a game against Philadelphia with a very slim opportunity to come out on top. The season is starting to slide the same way 2016 did after the bye week. It is very important that the Bears can build on positive performances and we can get realistic evaluations on current personnel on the 53 man roster going into 2018.

Chicago Bears (3-7)
Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

The two records speak for themselves, the Eagles will come into the game on Sunday expecting to become 10-1 on the season. Carson Wentz has played at an MVP level for a second year starter in the NFL and while the Eagles offense has very few other all pro level talent the offense is being effective with all the weapons that Wentz has at his disposal. Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery have all had good years as an offense. While, none of the receiving targets are having a stand out season, they are all contributing and allowing the Eagles to put up points. Where the game gets very difficult for the Bears is that the true strength of the Eagles team is their front seven on defense. They gets after the Quaterback and force other teams into mistakes and then the Eagles offense capitalises on those mistakes.

This is something that needs to be monitored on Sunday. If the Bears continue their ways of giving away needless penalties and forcing them into 2nd & long situations, there will only be one outcome on Sunday. The Eagles have a more talented roster, less injuries, better coaching and are more disciplined than the Chicago Bears. This is one of the few games where it is difficult to make arguments for a Bears victory. However, the NFL is a week to week league. In the AFC, the Steelers look dominant. The Bears were able to overcome the Steelers. The Panthers are back on track and the Bears easily disposed of Carolina. This Bears team is a very difficult one to gauge. In games where it would appear to be very difficult to imagine the Bears coming out with a win, it has happened. However, against this Eagles team a lot of things need to go right, if the Bears are to come away with their 4th victory of 2017.

Keys to the Game:

  1. Protect the Football – The Bears will need to have that balanced attack that I wrote about last week. However, the offensive line needs to hold up to allow Trubisky to make plays. The Eagles have attacked Quaterbacks and forced opposing offenses into key mistakes. That can’t happen on Sunday if the Bears are to win the game.
  2. LIMIT THE DUMB PENALTIES- John Fox has been heavily criticised for his coaching and many of his decisions that he has made during his tenure. However, nothing infuriates a fanbase more than an undisciplined football team. That’s exactly who the Chicago Bears are. To beat good football teams, you CANNOT shoot yourself in the foot. Limit the penalties and the Bears have a chance.
  3. Play the Young Guns – John Fox and his coaching staff have been hesitant when playing rookies. Yet, all of them that are available have shown they can make plays. Adam Shaheen and Tarik Cohen must be part of the offensive game plan and Isaiah Irving needs to be starting opposite McPhee/Acho. This is the time to get the kids snaps. The playoffs are out of sight, let the kids loose and see what you have in them.
  4. Bend but don’t break- The Eagles are going to rack up yardage, however as long as the Bears can limit the trips to the end zone, the Bears have a chance. Force the Eagles to settle for 3 points instead of seven. The defense is hurting right now without Floyd, Trevathan and Freeman but other players need to step up and be proud to have the “C” on their helmet.
  5. Run the Ball effectively – NO MORE RUN, RUN, PASS. The Bears improved in offensive play calling vs the Lions and it opened up the running game. To beat the Eagles both the passing game and the running game needs to be working in sync. Howard is the star of the offense in 2017 and he needs to be central to the plan to beat the Eagles on Sunday.
  6. Stop Alshon Jeffery – Alshon Jeffery is going to want to come into the game and lay down a marker on his former team. The Dbs need to take pride and shut him down. If he catches the ball, hit him hard. Force him into mistakes and make him play like its personal and not just another football game. Get in his head and take your opportunities to force him into critical mistakes.

Bold Predictions:

  1. Eddie Jackson picks off Carson Wentz.
  2. Trubisky throws over 200 yards and scored 2 TDs
  3. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen score points.
  4. Cairo Santos hits a 50+ yard FG.
  5. Isaiah Irving gets his first sack.

Game Prediction:

Philadelphia Eagles – 35
Chicago Bears – 23

My heart tells me to pick my beloved Bears but all my knowledge of the two teams coming into Week 11 tells me there’s only one side to choose. The Eagles have looked dominant in 2017 and I don’t expect that to change on Sunday. The Eagles will be able to move the ball offensively and pile the pressure on Trubisky in Philly. Bears need to play a clean game to keep this one close and I don’t have faith in this coaching staff to be able to achieve that feat.

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