Week 9: Bears v. Eagles (Monday Night Football) - Keys to Victory
Okay fellas, your resident Southern boy on this site is going to start putting up a keys-to-victory thread every week as long as I can remember to do it...and have time to boot. So, without further ado, here goes nothing.
Offensive Line: Continue the solid blocking on the offensive line that we have all seen since the blowout win over the Vikings. This is important, because without blocking, everything else is moot. J'Marcus Webb needs to continue to make strides toward improving his pass blocking technique AND not getting called for so many penalties. Part of Webb's improvement, I have to believe, stems from the solid play of the rest of the line, thus taking a lot of the pressure to play truly stellar LT off of him. Chris Williams is looking better and better each week, as are Chris Spencer and Lance Louis. I would like to see what this line will look like in another week or two when Gabe Carimi returns to action. I know he won't go in at LT, but holding out our first round pick would be stupid.
Jay Cutler: If the offensive line gives Jay Cutler plenty of time to complete passes, Cutler will benefit and be able to either carve up the Eagles' secondary or hand the ball off to contractually-challenged Matt Forte to eat up yards and expose the Eagles front four for their lack of competence at stopping the run. Because of the limited talent at WR, I just don't see too many long touchdown passes or deep balls when you take into consideration that the Eagles' corner back positions consist of Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel. That being said, Cutler must be judicious with his passes as many of them will wind up in the middle of the field in order to avoid the two All-Pro corners.
Matt Forte: This is simple. Get the ball to the man early and often. He is simply the biggest offensive weapon the Bears have had since the great Walter Payton; the stats don't lie. He alone can make life on the Eagles a living hell, especially if Cutler has a good day throwing the football.
Defensive Line: This is the area I am most concerned with over even our inconsistent offense. Other than a couple of games this season, the defensive line has not gotten a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Whether this is because of mistakes in personnel remains to be seen, but when Amobi Okoye and Stephen Paea are in the game, we see more pressure out of our defensive tackles. If memory serves me correctly, Okoye has sacked the opposing QB four times this season, while Paea has registered a safety in limited action during the Vikings game. As good as Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije are, they cannot bear the brunt of the load alone. They need help, and it needs to happens this week against the talented dual-threat QB Michael Vick.
Linebackers: It seems that since the Vikings game, they have tightened up all the loose screws they experienced from prior weeks when they were getting gashed by big running plays. Brian Urlacher has been his usual stellar self, but it seems as if Lance Briggs has just gotten with the program. The linebacking core played an integral part in limiting Vikings' All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson to something like 35 or 38 rushing yards, followed by a performance against the Buccaneers that was absolutely phenomenal despite the injury to Earnest Graham. (I believe the total rushing yards for the team was 15.) If Urlacher, Briggs, and Roach can limit LeSean McCoy to minimal yardage and keep Michael Vick from scurrying outside the pocket with great frequency, there is no reason why the Bears can't limit the capabilities of the potentially-potent Eagles offense.
Secondary: This is a Cover-2 secondary, which means it gives up chunks of yards through the air. The 2005 and 2006 teams did not do this, and the level of play ever since has precipitously fallen to where that level of play is average to below average at best. Perhaps Ron Rivera was a true sage in his wisdom of running a true Tampa-2 system because his defenses were far and away more dominant back six and seven years ago than they are now. That being said, on to Monday night's game.
Most likely, what we will see are short to intermediate pass plays that gain a lot of yardage for the Eagles between the 20s, only for Philadelphia to struggle in the red zone. Now, the safety position seems to be up to the task now of playing strong football and covering deep passes with relative authority; the corners, particularly Tim Jennings, are not quite in tune with this. Vick has a laser cannon for an arm and can throw the deep ball. The Bears have to be ready for that. I fear that Jennings is going to get picked on by Vick when he throws to DeSean Jackson since everyone on this forum knows that is who Andy Reid is going to match up with Jennings. I fully expect Vick to pass for 250-300 yards because of our corners' inabilities to cover properly, which is particularly the case with Tim Jennings. Charles Tillman is still solid and not much gets by him.
Special Teams: This is usually the great equalizer for this team in most games, but not against Philadelphia. DeSean Jackson is one of the best kick returners in the National Football League: the dropped punt return last year for a touchdown last year against the Giants was living proof of this. However, I still think we have the greatest kick returner of all-time in Devin Hester. Special Teams may be a determining factor in both team's quest to win this game as this is the area of the game where the breaks are made.
This game realistically can go either way. The Eagles have won three straight since starting the season out 0-4; they look to be on the rebound. The Eagles' offensive line is starting to gel some solidarity, thus giving the offense some room to breathe and Michael Vick time in the pocket to go through his progressions and fire darts to open receivers. As for the Bears, they are starting to come around after the embarrassing manner in which they lost to Lions, and that is because, like Philadelphia, they have an offensive line that is starting to come together and players who can hold down the positions and pass protect. I think, however, that the key to this game for the Bears is going to be Matt Forte, who has been absolutely lighting up opposing defenses since the Carolina game. He is the best RB in the National Football League right now. The Eagles are giving up more than 5.0 yards per rush on defense, and that doesn't look good for them.
Final Score: Bears 27, Eagles 20.
Last edited by Dagan81; 11-06-2011 at 05:16 AM.
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