With the Eagles and Bears scheduled to face off on Sunday, I reached out to the SB Nation Bears site: Windy City Gridiron. Kev H kindly took the time to answer my questions.
Let's take a look at the questions and answers.
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1) Name a Bears player on offense and defense that the Eagles need to watch out for.
Offense - Alshon Jeffery. WR - In his second year, Jeffery finds himself making highlight reels weekly, with big circus grabs from both of the Bears starting quarterbacks. If a defense focuses too much on Marshall or Forte, AJ will make them pay. (Hey, a rhyme!)
Defense - Zack Bowman - CB - Over the last couple weeks, Bowman has had pretty solid weeks at CB filling in for Peanut Tillman. Last week he returned an errant Jason Campbell pass for a touchdown, and seems to be setting into his starting job. (And it's only his sixth season in the NFL)
Realistically, there's not too many people to fear, necessarily, on the Bears defense, but when they play inspired, they can do some damage. Particularly, the defensive line has been showing some life since Jeremiah Ratliff (the former Cowboy) has been injected to the lineup. It's a defense that has had it's share of injuries, but to some degree, seems to be learning from them.
2) I was a big fan of the Marc Trestman hire for Chicago. I favored Trestman as the Eagles' top head coach candidate only behind Chip Kelly himself (proof!). How was the original reception to the hire and how has that changed to this point? How do Bears fans feel about him?
Original reaction was mixed. Some confused, some excited about the concept of a legitimate offense, and some mad they didn't get a Gruden or Cowher or someone who yells a lot. Many were intrigued by the fact that he's had some pretty good success with quarterbacks in the past. It was possibly the least sexy pick you could possibly have made at head coach, but so far, it seems like it's working out really well. He came in and worked with GM Phil Emery to rebuild this offense, and the key of that is their decision to rebuild the offensive line. The only hold over is Matt Garza, a converted guard who has played center since the departure of stalwart Olin Kreutz.
With four new members, (2 rookies!) playing on the offensive line, their ability to be successful has really allowed Trestman to show Bears fans some things on offense that we have only seen when other teams come to town and shove it down our throats. A tendency to get away from the run hurts him with some fans, as well as his long-standing position that Jay Cutler is the quarterback of this team, which it seems we'll be getting to in the next question.
Generally speaking, the team is winning, and that always works in the coaches favor. He's had some of the setbacks you'd expect from a rookie head coach, but he seems to be learning and adapting. What the team is able to accomplish now that they hold their own playoff destiny in their hands will go a long way towards determining his support in the future.
3) So Jay Cutler is starting now that he's healthy. Josh McCown seemed to be playing pretty well in Cutler's absence. How do you feel about Cutler starting now and what's his future in Chicago since he's scheduled to be a free agent after this season?
Well we really haven't had that many discussions about this at WCG. No, wait, scratch that, every thread has this conversation as a subset. I'm pretty sure there was an article about how the defense can't tackle, and still we somehow had a Jay vs. Josh debate.
I know I don't speak for all Bears fans, but this has been my general take on it. Josh McCown has been playing very well. Generally speaking, you'd expect him to go out and give a you pretty good chance of not losing a game. Jay Cutler, on the other hand, is the QB on the roster who is going to go out and WIN a football game for you. I'm not going to say Cutler's among the league's elite, but he was having a pretty good season for himself before he got hurt, and when he came back last week, once he shook the rust off, he looked pretty good then, too.
Even on that note, I'm not necessarily against Cutler having a short leash week-to-week this season. If he comes out on SNF and completely craps the bed in the first half, yank him and put McCown in. I'm all for the decision that will help the team win games, and sometimes that choice is to take someone out when they're self-destructing. You can't play for next season -- if you have the chance, you take it now.
I personally think he'll be back in 2014, whether it be via a deal or a long-term agreement. His upside is still there, and he seems to be doing a better job of putting it all together. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he has some of the best receivers in football right now, a stud running back, and he's not being sacked 60 times a season.
4) That Bears run defense is looking pretty awful. They're allowing a league-worst 152.4 rush yards per game, which is about 20 more yards per game than the next worse team. Meanwhile, the Eagles own the league's best rushing attack with 152.9 rush yards per game. How big of a concern is this mismatch?
It looks that bad to you, and I"m guessing you haven't even watched all of these games. At times it causes me to just want to flip my tablet to the ground, say "eff it", and get to the Blackhawks game.
I'll be honest, I've said several times that this game was flexed primarily because NBC wanted to be able to show LeSean McCoy breaking the single game rushing record, and I was at best a quarter-kidding about that. Should Lance Briggs return from injury this week, that will help as it will pull rookie Khaseem Greene off the field, but given that he's been out 8 weeks, he's probably not got the conditioning to play every snap. He is, however, better at lining people up and identifying offenses, and that's what the defense needs. Gap integrity has been an absolute killer to this team, and is a primary reason they lost several should-haves in Minnesota, Washington, and St. Louis.
So am I concerned? Yes. Luckily, I have some confidence in the offense to be able to move the ball as well, with the eagles giving up the second highest passing yards/game. I think it'll turn into a high scoring affair, personally.
5) Let's hear a score prediction. Who wins this game and why?
I'm going homer here, and I'm going to make it a close one. 34-31 Bears. I think the Bears eke this one out but only after giving me a heart attack. A big difference has been that this Bears team remains poised, even when down late in games, and is near the tops in the league in scoring. Also, I think Henery misses a FG. And mostly, i'm just trying to remain incredibly optimistic. Last week the Bears dominated on 3rd downs with their offense, and if they can keep McCoy from running for 8 ypc, I think they can get it done on the road.
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