For the third year in a row, Mike Burzawa of BearGogglesOn.com was kind enough to spend some time answering some questions for me prior to an Eagles and Bears matchup. This time around, he spends some time talking about Gabe Carimi, the Bears rookie who may return to a key role in the offense this week. He also speaks about another big key to the Bears offense, Matt Forte.
Among other things, Mike takes the time to look at where each team will have an advantage on offense and defense, who could be a possible x-factor for the Bears, and ends by giving us a final score prediction.
Also, make sure to check out the answers I gave to Mike’s questions by clicking here.
BirdsFan: Gabe Carimi is a player who many thought the Eagles might take in the 2011 draft. I know he’s been hurt but seems to be ready to play. How has he been this season and what type of role do you expect him to play on Monday?
BearGogglesOn: It’s kind of hard to tell because he hasn’t played all that much. Gabe showed promise early on holding down the right tackle spot before he got hurt in Week 2 against the Saints. After a few rough games, the Bears’ offensive line actually looked serviceable without him. Now that Carimi is healthy and returning to practice, it’s been a hot button topic as to whether or not he should get his starting job back at the risk of disrupting a budding chemistry of the new look line.
BF: Matt Forte has been stellar his last four games. Tells us where the offense would be without him. Has his success come by individual effort or has his line been phenomenal as well?
BGO: Over 40% of the Bears offense goes through Forte, so without him I think they’d be bad shape. The line has been improving, but more of Forte’s success has been thanks to his individual effort with a little help from Mike Martz’s pass happy offense, which gets Forte the ball in the screen game a lot. Honorable mention to the Bears’ crappy wide receiving corp because none of them merit enough of Jay Cutler’s attention to take touches away from Forte.
BF: The Bears seemed to put a lot of effort into preventing the Eagles from hitting on big plays last year. Do you think this will be a big part of the game plan this week? What other things do you see the Bears doing defensively?
BGO: That’s Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense in a nutshell, so expect more of the same. They try to prevent the big plays by keeping everything in front of them and by forcing opponents into mistakes or forcing key turnovers. One thing that scares me this week is the Bears inexperience at the safety position. They’re starting rookie Chris Conte who has looked OK in limited action, but that’s definitely an area I expect the Eagles to try to exploit.
BF: The Eagles offense has a ton of fire power. What individual on the Eagles offense scares you the most and why?
BGO: For me, I think it’s LeSean McCoy. The Bears have had pretty good luck keeping Michael Vick in check throughout his career, but an explosive back like McCoy could prove to be a difference maker. Just look at Jahvid Best did to the Bears last time they played on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago. Shady scares me.
BF: On Monday, where will the Bears have an advantage on offense? On defense?
BGO: On offense, I expect the Bears to continue to try to get the ball to Forte both running to the edge and in the screen game. Those elements could slow down a pretty fierce Eagles pass rush. Jay Cutler’s favorite target Earl Bennett comes back this week after missing the last few games his a chest injury. Look for the Cutler to Bennett connection a lot, especially on third downs. On the defensive side of the ball, you have to keep an eye out for Peppers. He’ll line up in different positions along the line, looking for a mismatch.
BF: Where will the Eagles have an advantage on offense? On defense?
BGO: An area that has given the Bears trouble, especially in the red zone has been the tight end position. If Brent Celek is healthy, he could give the Bears fits. Maybe a sneaky starter for your fantasy team? On defense, I don’t like the matchup between the Bears offensive line and the Eagles defensive ends. Cole and Babin have been bringing it and that could spell trouble for Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offense.
BF: What player could be a potential x-factor for the Bears on Monday?
BGO: ‘ll give you one for each side. For the Bears, Devin Hester is always an X-Factor. He can flip the field or score at a moment’s notice, so look out for Devin. For the Eagles, the crowd could be a big X-factor. Two of the Bears’ three losses have come on the road in hostile environments. If the crowd gets into it and makes it hard of the Bears offense, it could be a long night for the guys in orange and blue.
BF: Give me a score prediction.
BGO: I’ve had this one marked as an L in my book since the schedule came out. The Bears are coming off a bye, so maybe the added rest gives them a fighters chance, but between the Eagles’ offensive firepower and pressure that the D-line can bring, I figure for a tough night for the Bears. Eagles 23, Bears 17.