The Eagles and Bears have played some crazy games in recent years. They seem to be back and forth affairs that get decided in the 4th quarter. Tonight’s game is a meeting of teams that are pretty similar. Both are 8-6. Both have dynamic offenses and porous defenses. I’d love to see an Eagles blowout, but this sure feels like it should be a close game that is decided late.
One thing that people are asking about is whether the Eagles will run the ball to protect the defense. The Eagles are the #1 rushing team in the NFL. The Bears are dead last in run defense. So running the ball and keeping the Bears off the field would make sense.
I certainly think the Eagles can and will run the ball a lot. But it won’t be to work the clock. The Eagles will still go up-tempo. That’s a big part of what they do. Drives may last a bit longer if the Eagles really stay on the ground, but this won’t be a ball control offense. Kelly still wants his big plays and his TDs.
My goal is for Shady to have 25 carries, with Bryce Brown and Chris Polk each getting at least 3. I don’t think that running the ball a certain amount of times guarantees anything, but it sure can help.
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Reuben Frank posted his 25 Random Points column. He had several good nuggets.
1. This Eagles season seems a lot like 1995. First-year coach, a team that finished the previous year in shambles, a 1-3 start, a surprising mid-season run, a Pro Bowl tailback holding the whole thing together, a battle with the Cowboys for the division lead. The big difference is that was a veteran team, led by older guys like Ricky Watters, Rodney Peete, William Fuller, Mike Zordich and Fred Barnett. This is a predominantly young team. Those 1995 Eagles won a wild-card game and reached the playoffs again a year later, but the success wasn’t sustainable because they got old fast and Ray Rhodes – Coach of the Year in 1995 – couldn’t get his fire-and-brimstone approach to work for very long. This year feels different from that respect. The Eagles finally seem to be stocking the roster with good young players, and the Eagles should be competitive for a while. Especially in a division where all three other teams are a mess. It feels like the start of something, for the first time in a long time.
2. Only 10 quarterbacks in NFL history have had one game with 400 passing yards and three touchdown passes before their 25th birthday. Nick Foles has had two.
3. The Bears have one of the worst rush defenses in NFL history at 5.2 yards per carry. That’s third-worst in the last 50 years (behind the 2006 Colts and 1965 Oilers). If LeSean McCoy doesn’t get at least 27 carries Sunday, it’s inexcusable.
5. Zach Ertz is going to be a beast. The kid has 32 catches for 399 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, and you can just see him getting more and more comfortable every week. My favorite number: 12.5 yards per catch. That’s a huge number for a tight end. Ertz can really scoot and pick up big yards after the catch. Ertz’s 12.5 figure is 10th-highest among rookie tight ends with at least 30 catches over the last 30 years. Stud.
7. This one blew my mind: Foles has 23 touchdown passes in the equivalent of 8 ½ games. Donovan McNabb surpassed 23 touchdown passes twice in his 13-year career [31 in 2004, 25 in 2001]. With four TD passes in the Eagles’ last two games, Foles will have the fifth-highest total in Eagles history. In 10 ½ games.
I totally agree about 2013/1995. I’ve written about that connection a few times myself.
Point #7 really is crazy. That’s almost hard to wrap your mind around.
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Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network had an interesting report.
Michael Vick could be a stop-gap starter for 2 or 3 teams. Open to returning to #Eagles as backup because he loves Philly, close with Foles
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 22, 2013
I have mixed feelings about this. What happens if Foles gets hurt and Vick has to take over for an extended period? Can you trust him to stay healthy? Vick played great for 2 weeks this year, then got hurt. His performance dropped off at that point. If I knew for a fact I’d only need Vick for a game or two, then I’d be okay with him. There’s no question that he can still play.
As Chip Kelly preaches, the #1 ability is durability. And that’s Vick’s biggest weakness.
What do you guys think?
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DAL at WAS. I expect Kirk Cousins to play well. I think this is a pick ’em game. Won’t shock me either way.
A report from Ed Werder today said that Jason Garrett will be fired if he doesn’t make the playoffs. That almost makes me want Dallas to make the playoffs. I don’t want Garrett going anywhere.