Game Preview – PHI at CHI

Posted: December 17th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Game Preview – PHI at CHI

The Eagles travel to Chicago to take on the Bears on Sunday. The Bears are a bad team. They’ve got a new coach, young QB, lack talent and injuries have been an issue all year. You don’t go 3-10 by accident.

This is a game the Eagles should absolutely win. They are favored by nine points and are clearly the better team.

If the Bears do have hope it is due to QB Justin Fields and his ability as a playmaker.¬†Fields has run for 905 yards and averages 7.1 yards per carry. Jalen Hurts is a good runner. Fields is a frickin’ weapon. Since November 1, he’s got runs of TD runs of 55, 67 and 61 yards. That’s insane. That’s similar to what Miles Sanders has for his career.

While Fields is an elite weapon as a runner, he’s very much a work in progress as a passer. You see big time potential, but there isn’t the kind of consistency you need out of a high level QB. Fields has good size and a strong arm. He can make impressive tight-window throws. His mechanics are sloppy. I don’t like his footwork at all. His decision-making is all over the place.

Fields is learning a new offense, dealing with new coaches and he doesn’t have top skill players so this season should be one of erratic play. He has only thrown for more than 193 yards in a game once all year. Now, that was last time out when he threw for 254 yards against the Packers. Fields completed passes of 49 and 56 yards. Those kind of big plays had been missing. He’s not likely to beat the Eagles deep, but he should try.

The Bears have the top ranked run game in the league, largely due to Fields. RB David Montgomery is good, but he’s more of a chain-mover than a big play guy. Montgomery averages 4.0 ypc and his long run for the season is just 28 yards. The Bears will use other RBs and even WRs to run the ball. They have seven players with a run of at least 18 yards. That tells you they can be creative and that they do have some speedy runners.

It also says the OL can run block. That group doesn’t have any big names or special players, but they do a good job of run blocking. Pass protection is a more complicated subject. Fields has been sacked 40 times. Some of that is on him for holding the ball too much, some on the receivers for not getting open and some on the OL for not blocking well enough. The Eagles DL should win this matchup and be able to pressure Fields.

How do they go about limiting his running? The Eagles limited Daniel Jones to 4 carries for 26 yards so they can have success against a mobile QB. Fields is different because he’s like a RB. He is big and strong and hard to tackle. He’s elusive. Most of all, Fields has explosive speed. If there is an opening, he will fly up the field in the blink of an eye. He looks faster than Lamar Jackson. You might have to go back to Michael Vick’s prime to find a faster QB.

Jonathan Gannon faced Lamar Jackson in 2020. The Colts held Jackson to 13-58-1, with a long run of 9 yards. Gannon had multiple matchups against Marcus Mariota and Deshaun Watson. He has seen different types of mobile QBs over the years. It will be interesting to see what his strategy is against Fields.

Jim Schwartz liked to blitz mobile QBs. You took away running lanes and could box them in. That’s great, unless they escape and then the field is wide open. Gannon might prefer to use a spy or to mush rush. He won’t stick to just one idea. You need to be creative so that Fields has to process what he’s seeing. Make him slow himself down.

Chicago’s offense is kinda like the 2020 Eagles. For a month they averaged 31 points a game and looked good. The rest of the season has been a real struggle, averaging just 16 points per game in the other nine contests.

The passing game has an uphill battle. The Bears are missing their top two receivers, which is not ideal when going against the best secondary in the league. TE Cole Khmet is a good pass catcher and will make plays. WR Equanimeous St. Brown is the big play threat for now. He had the 56-yard catch last week.

I expect Fields to make some plays and the Bears to score some points. I just don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with the Eagles. Part of that is due to Jalen Hurts and the talent on the Eagles offense. Part of that is due to the Bears defense being…bad. They are 30th in points allowed, 29th in yards per play, 32nd in 3rd down defense, 32nd in sacks, 27th in red zone defense and 32nd in defense DVOA. That doesn’t bode well when facing the top scoring team in the NFL.

With the Bears lack of pass rush, my guess is that the Eagles throw early to build a lead. Hurts should have time in the pocket. The Eagles can attack down the field and go for chunk plays. Dallas Goedert should be back on Sunday so the coaches can mix him in as they want to.

The Bears have given up 149 or more rushing yards each of the past three games. Miles Sanders could be in for another big game. LB Nicholas Morrow leads the team in tackles. He’s only got one more than Roquan Smith, who hasn’t been there for the past 5 games. Not ideal. There are some good young pieces to build around. Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker has shown a lot of potential.

Chicago just doesn’t have the guys on the DL to rush the passer or stop the run. That makes it brutally hard to stop opposing offenses. You need to be able to make plays and challenge the offense. That starts up front. Bears history is full of great defenses. This isn’t one of them.

While the Bears are a bad team, they do play hard and compete. Six of their 10 losses came in one-score games. They’ve only been blown out three times. Staying close to the Eagles will be tough for them. This is a tough matchup. Coach Matt Eberflus knows Nick Sirianni and Gannon from their time together in Indy. That insight could help, but he just doesn’t have the horses to make his ideas really come to life.

It will be cold in Chicago. If that leads to sloppy play or turnovers, that would be a big help for the Bears. Without something like that, they are looking at a long Sunday afternoon.

*****

The Niners ran a cool play that resulted in a TD for George Kittle on Thursday night.

Turns out, the Eagles ran that play in 2020. Look who one of the RBs is.

From decoy/gadget to potential MVP. What a crazy trajectory Hurts has been on since coming to the league. Very cool.

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