How the Philadelphia Eagles Will Beat the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football

Aug 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles Ryan Mathews (24) and Kenjon Barner (34) during the National Anthem before the start of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles Ryan Mathews (24) and Kenjon Barner (34) during the National Anthem before the start of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports /

Philadelphia Eagles square off against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night

If your memory’s foggy, recent history has not been kind to the Philadelphia Eagles in Chicago. Since 2007, the Eagles are 1-2 against the Bears at Soldier Field and 2-4 overall. The last time Philadelphia had any sustained success against the Bears, Donovan McNabb was under center and Brian Westbrook roamed the back field (5-0 against the Bears from 1999-2004).

But fear not Eagles fans, this is not the same Bears team you’ve seen in the past. Going into Week 2, Chicago sits at number 30 on’s Power Rankings. That’s only two spots above the Cleveland Browns and one above the Los Angeles Rams, who took a 28-0 throttling from Chip Kelly’s San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

Chicago’s offense is anchored by a patchwork offensive line that fields a rookie center (Cody Whitehair) and a veteran guard (Josh Sitton) who has only been with the team for two weeks. Swiss Army knife running back Matt Forte is gone. He signed with the New York Jets in the offseason.  Tight end Martellus Bennett is now the property of Bill Belichick in New England. The result: quarterback Jay Cutler doesn’t have much firepower on his side of the ball and it showed in an anemic 23-14 loss to Houston last week. (box score)


And the Chicago defense? Let’s just say you probably won’t hear many comparisons made between this group of Bears defenders and their counterparts from 1985. Big names like Lance Briggs, Jared Allen, and Julius Peppers  are distant memories on the Chicago roster card. They’ve been replaced by names like Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan–both quality players, but not quite established enough to garner the kind of star power that has become a staple of Bears defensive football.

So, how does coach Doug Pederson position his Eagles team to take advantage of Chicago’s obvious deficiencies? Here are a few things Pederson and his staff will look to weave into the game plan.

Bring the Heat

Jay Cutler finished 16/29 for 216 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss to Houston. It’s a respectable stat line that becomes less so when you note most of the production came in the first half alone (140 passer rating, 10/13, 156 yards, touchdown). Cutler threw for only 60 yards in the second half with an interception and two fumbles he was lucky to have recovered by himself. 

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What did the Texans do differently in the second half? Simply stated, they blitzed the heck out of Cutler. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel attacked the soft middle of the Chicago line by bringing heat with the linebackers. He confused a Bears offensive line that has not fully gelled by running stunts along the defensive front. This wrinkle in Crennel’s second half strategy netted Houston four of its five sacks.

Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, runs a 4-3, wide-nine look on defense that differs from Crennel’s attacking 3-4 scheme. It will be harder for Schwartz to use his linebackers in the same way as Crennel and still defend effectively against the run. However, look for Schwartz  to send linebackers Brandon Hicks (straight over the top) and Nigel Bradham (off the edge) early in the game to keep the

Chicago line guessing at a time when communication has not been a strength of the unit. With the push Fletcher Cox and company showed along the line in the second half last week against the Browns, establishing the threat of a linebacker coming free in the backfield might be all the Philadelphia Eagles defense needs to dominate at the point of attack.

Ground and Pound

The Bears defense opened up against a Houston offense that started a brand new quarterback (Brock Osweiler), a recently-acquired running back (Lamar Miller), and a rookie wide receiver (Will Fuller). You’d think there would be some growing pains before the Texans offense hit its mid-season stride. That wasn’t the case last week against the Bears.

Miller punched the Bears defense in the mouth from the Texan’s opening drive, ripping off an eight yard run on his first touch on his way to over a hundred yards in the game (28 carries, 106 yards, touchdown).

Miller’s hard running allowed the Texans to control the time of possession by over 13 minutes and opened the field for big passing plays.  Osweiler took advantage (22/35, 231 yards, two touchdowns), hitting Fuller five times for 107 yards and a long score. He also found Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins five more times for 54 yards and another six points.

This is a blueprint perfectly constructed for the strengths of Doug Pederson’s offense. Expect to see running back Ryan Mathews carry the load again this week with at least 20 carries, but don’t be surprised to see bruiser Kenjon Barner with an increased workload. Barner averaged 10.5 yards/attempt last week against the Browns, much of it earned on tough runs where he broke multiple tackles.

Barner’s downhill style could play a significant role in this tilt, especially in opening up the field for Carson Wentz and the passing game. Tight end Zach Ertz is on the shelf this week with a rib injury, so look for Jordan Matthews to play mostly in the slot and for Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff to use their speed to stretch the field and victimize a weak Bears secondary. Expect at least two or three deep balls from Wentz to this tandem during the game. But the tempo will be set by the backs. They will do most of the heavy lifting.

Shut Down Jeffery

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles /

Chicago’s biggest threat on offense is Pro Bowl receiver Alshon Jeffery, who hauled in four balls for 105 yards against Houston last week–all in the first half. If Jeffery and Cutler are allowed to get into any sort of rhythm it could spell trouble for the Birds. Jeffery is the kind of receiver with the potential to victimize a secondary on every play, the same way Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor victimized Philadelphia Eagles corner Nolan Carroll in Week 1. Look for Jim Schwartz to keep a safety high on Jeffery to prevent him from breaking deep down the sideline.

But the Eagles can’t forget about receiver Eddie Royal on the other side. Royal is much less scary from a speed and size perspective, but he catches everything and is always in the right spot on crucial third down plays. He’s like a younger Jason Avant. Royal won’t beat you deep, but he can keep the Eagles defense on the field if it doesn’t account for him on every play.

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If the Philadelphia Eagles secondary does a respectable job of containing Jeffery and Royal, the Bears offense becomes extremely vanilla and the Philadelphia front four will have a field day like they did in the second half against Cleveland.
Week Two Prediction: Eagles 21  Bears 16