In order to preview the Eagles’ Week 12 game against Chi-town, I reached out to our friends over at Windy City Gridiron. The great Jeff Berckes (@gridironborn) kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let's take a look at the answers. (Also don't forget to check out my Q&A exchange over at WCG.)
1 - I don’t think the Eagles are going to lose this week, but I do think this matchup has trap game conditions for Philly. Coming off some big blowout wins … about to go on a big three-game road trip. It might be easy to overlook a Bears team that’s gone 3-7. But a closer look reveals the Bears have been playing teams close. The defense also seems respectable. Is it fair to say Chicago is a little better than their record indicates?
The phrase that I have used all year is that Chicago is a "tough out." That's a nice thing to say about a pesky hitter that fouls off pitch after pitch until they get a decent ball to hit. I think that's still a fair analogy. The Bears aren't going to scare anyone - this team is not built to hit it out of the park - but if they can get you down into the muck, they'll try to steal one late. The defense has shown signs of being a good unit, but then they'll have a drive where they look completely lost. The Bears could be 5-5 or even 6-4 with some very reasonable breaks, but they're not good enough to overcome even the slightest adversity. In other words, the margin for error is so small that a sneeze or a heavy cough can throw their whole system out of whack.
2 - To what extent do the Bears miss Alshon Jeffery? Since he’s going to be a free agent after this season, do you hope Chicago will try to bring him back?
Speaking for myself, I miss Alshon Jeffery like the deserts miss the rain, or however that song goes. Yes, he struggled with soft tissue injuries during his tenure in Chicago, but when he was on the field he was so much fun to watch. I bought a number 17 jersey and was absolutely heartbroken when he signed with Philly. However, I will say that I was so impressed with Wentz last year and I love your defense, that Alshon's signing allowed me to fully jump on the Wentz Wagon as my primary alternative cheering interest. I was the only WCG writer to take the Eagles as the NFC East champs before the year and I've managed to watch every Eagles game.
Will Chicago try to resign him? No. I think they drove him away by being stingy. General Manager Ryan Pace didn't draft Alshon, so there isn't a big connection there. Unless the Bears hire someone from the Eagles staff that has a huge connection with Alshon, I don't see it happening.
3 - How has Mitchell Trubisky looked? What’s the level of optimism regarding his future?
Shameless self promotion here but I wrote this article last week about my feelings with Trubisky and a fan base that was already showing signs of losing faith.
Short answer is - he's looked like a rookie with upside. I think he's shown everything you need to see from him in his rookie year. He worked hard to steadily work his way up the depth chart. He's commanded the huddle and earned the respect of his teammates. He's elevated the play of the people around him. He's made some big time throws, taken care of the ball, and the game hasn't looked too big for him. On the other hand, he's taken some bad sacks, he's been a inaccurate at times, and most importantly, he hasn't put a ton of points on the board.
I think the future looks bright. I wasn't so sure about it when we drafted him as he had such a limited college resume. But I've liked everything I've read about his work ethic and what he says and his play has been encouraging. With the right coaching and some NFL weapons, I think he could develop into something special.
4 - What’s one matchup that really favors the Bears? And one that really favors the Eagles?
Well...the safe answer is probably none and all but I'll play along. Relatively speaking, I think the Bears have been stout against the run this year, particularly inside runs. The Eagles seem to have a handful of backs running through that lineup, but Blount running inside may not be that effective. I think running Jay Ajayi or Clement to the outside would serve the Eagles better. On the other side, well, I think there are no wrong answers but I'm particularly nervous about the Eagles pass rush against an inexperienced Mitchell Trubisky. The rookie struggled against the blitz in the Packers game, yuck, and the Eagles are 100 times better than that green and mustard team.
5 - Which one Eagles player would you steal if you could have them on the Bears? If you were FORCED to help Philly, which best Bears player would you put on the Eagles?
I only get one? I know the Eagles and Bears play different defensive schemes, but I love Fletcher Cox. Our defensive line is good and adding a star like Cox would put us on the map as a legitimate, scary defense. On the other side, our best players would be competing with some of your best players, but I'd lend you our Left Tackle Charles Leno Jr. who has been solid and has 4 years of starting experience. I know Vaitai has been okay, but Leno would be an upgrade for your playoff run.
Bonus: Who wins this game and why? Score prediction?
Fly, Eagles, Fly, 34-13. The Eagles are the best team in the NFC and it's my belief that we'll see them in the Super Bowl this year. If the Eagles can get off to a fast start, it's over. If they allow the Bears to hang around, the score will be closer than predicted. It is just hard to imagine a scenario where the Bears can beat this Eagles team.