The Eagles will be back in the national spotlight again this week as they host the Bears on Monday Night Football. They played well under the bright lights last week and will look to pull their record back up to the .500 mark.
The Bears are coming off a bye week so they’re well rested. However, Lovie Smith doesn’t have the same kind of post bye week track record as Andy Reid.
As the Eagles look to continue their attempt to right the ship, here are five keys I believe are important for the Eagles to come out on top.
1. Limit Matt Forte
I think one of the stats that keeps getting overlooked from the win against Dallas is the numbers DeMarco Murray put up. He only ran the ball eight times, but he gained 74 yards on those eight carries.
Murray was a rookie who came in with one good game under his belt. Matt Forte is much more established. In his last four games, Forte is averaging just over 22 carries for about 138 yards per contest.
He’s clearly their biggest contributor on offense and he’s going to get his fair share of touches. Although he’s most effective as a rusher, he’s also shown the ability to catch passes out of the backfield with success.
The Bears will rely heavily on Forte come Monday night, and it will be hard for the Eagles to shut him down completely. However, they’re going to have to keep a close eye on him and limit him as much as they possibly can.
2. Blitz Jay Cutler
I’m not really sure what I think of Jay Cutler as a quarterback. The reason I’m unsure is because he doesn’t have a ton of talent at the receiver position. You might even be able to argue that Forte is their best receiver.
The Eagles brought in the talent they did at the corner position in order to matchup with those top-tier passing teams in the NFL. The Bears are not one of them.
If the Eagles corners can’t handle the Bears group of receivers, we have some serious issues here. They just shut down a group that includes Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten. That’s a group head and shoulders about the group the Bears have.
We haven’t seen it a lot, but if it’s a clear cut passing situation, why not throw a blitz at Cutler? Our front four has done a good job applying pressure, but if the Eagles can scheme up some blitzes where a guy can come in untouched, I don’t see why it wouldn’t help.
As long as they account for Forte coming out of the backfield and don’t get burn on a screen, I’d love to see them be a bit more aggressive and put trust in their corners.
3. Utilize the Screen Game
Remember the Bears game last season? It seemed as though their biggest goal was to take away the big play from the Eagles, and they did. This seemed to be a goal of the Cowboys last week as well, and the Eagles burned them with short stuff.
We know LeSean McCoy is good, right? I think that’s been pretty clearly established. The guy has a lot of success in the screen game and can really make things happen on his own. Throw a few of those athletic Howard Mudd lineman in front of him and Shady should be able to run for days.
Make the Bears respect the short game and draw those deep safeties closer to the line. When they get close enough, send DeSean deep and see if you can’t hit that home-run ball.
Not only that, but what about the wide receiver screen we saw with Jeremy Maclin. If he wanted to, he could still be running. Again, use those athletic lineman to get out in front and put the ball in the hands of one of your play makers. Good things will happen. I guarantee it.
4. Healthy Dose of Brent Celek
How much do you love the reemergence of Brent Celek? Personally, it makes me extremely happy. Remember when he burst on the scene? Looked like he was going to be one of the best tight ends in the league, but then he basically fell off the face of the earth.
Good news though, he’s back. He’s shown that he can be a fearless target in the middle of the field and will straight up bull through people when he gets his hands on the ball.
I do love the fact that Michael Vick is looking his way more, but I love the fact that he is still contributing as a blocker as well. Against the Cowboys, he was chipping the defensive end before going out for a pass. There were also times when he released after blocking for a few seconds.
This is extremely frustrating for a defensive end, especially when you expect the tight end to just go out for a pass and not touch you.
The Eagles are really utilizing Celek in a good way right now and I hope it continues. It makes the offense that much more dynamic.
5. Convert Around the Goal Line
Seems pretty obvious, right? It is. However, Alex Henery kicked a 23 and 26 yard field goal against the Cowboys. You don’t want to be kicking field goals that close to the goal line.
I think there was some improvement in the red zone play calling, but I still think they have some room for improvement. There are too many “cute” plays being run that make you scratch your head.
Let’s keep it simple. Utilize your strengths and put more points on the board.