So many questions, so little time. Before we get to the on-the-field issues facing the Eagles this weekend, check out the injury report as of Thursday night.
- Donovan McNabb - Probable
- Brian Westbrook - Questionable
- L.J. Smith - Questionable
- Shawn Andrews - Questionable
- Tony Hunt - Probable
- Kevin Curtis - Doubtful
7 starters on offense possible out for this Sunday's game. I don't think it'll shake down like that, I think McNabb plays, Hunt plays and possibly Andrews plays. I'll be surprised if Westbrook plays and I'm never shocked when L.J. Smith misses a game.
The good news, the Bears only legit scoring threat, Devin Hester, is listed as questionable with rib problems.
After the jump I'll take a stab at pointing out the keys for this week, although I think the overwhelming priority is to just get everyone healthy.
Let's just get right into the keys:
- Keep McNabb upright. The Eagles are going to have to use more max-protect schemes because they don't have Brian Westbrook back there to pick off blitzers like a sniper. Using Buckhalter, Booker or even Hunt to protect McNabb from Urlacher and Briggs is a recipe for disaster.
- MJG or Andrews. Whoever gets the start needs to be adequate. The Eagles running game hasn't gotten off to a great start so far this season, Chicago has been very good against the run in two of their first three games. If Andrews makes it back, and he's 100%, he should be able to open up holes in the D-line. If it's Max-Jean Gilles again, well, he just needs to be average, which he was last week.
- Let Buckhalter be Buckhalter. Correll Buckhalter is not Brian Westbrook. Lorenzo Booker is not Brian Westbrook. The coaches need to change the gameplan to shift the focus from the running backs to the outside guys. When they do call an RB's number, use their strengths. Buckhalter is much better as a north/south runner, give him the ball up the gut. Booker has a better chance at getting to the edge, both can be used in the passing game. Play to their strengths.
- Loosen up the D. I want to see one shot deep per quarter, at a minimum. Send DeSean outside, if he gets a one-on-one matchup, throw it to him. He's got the ball skills to make the play, even if he doesn't catch it, it'll help stretch the defense out and create more room for the run.
- Stewart, meet Matthew. Second-year MLB Stewart Bradley deserves a boatload of credit for the Eagles' performance against the run. This week, he'll have rookie Matt Forte to contend with. Forte burst onto the scene against Indy in week one with 123 yards, his yards/carry have dropped each week since then, but the Bears appear to be committed to the run (wouldn't you be if Kyle Orton was your QB?) so Bradley and Co. need to make them rethink that strategy by stuffing the run early.
- Asante, meet Brandon. After matching up with Tory Holt, T.O. and Hines Ward in the first three games, seeing Brandon Lloyd line up against him may seem like child's play to Samuel, but Lloyd is coming off an excellent game against Tampa.
- Kyle, meet your maker. When this game is over I want Kyle Orton's jersey to be dirtier than Ben Roethlisberger's was last Sunday. I want this kid blitzed, blitzed and blitzed some more. I want him on his back, I want him running for his life, I want to see happy feet in the pocket and dying quails in the air being picked off. It's highly questionable that he even belongs in the league, let's make him rethink his career choice after this one.
- Weapon X, welcome back. I only wish there were more articles in the paper questioning Brian Dawkins this week. He eats that type of motivation up.
- THIS. IS. VERY. SIMPLE. If Devin Hester plays, kick the ball out of bounds. Give Kyle Orton the ball on the 40 yard line after every single score. Look at it this way, if you kick the ball to Devin Hester 10 times, I'd say the odds are about 70/30 in favor of him bringing one back for a touchdown. If you give the ball to Orton on the 40 ten times, I'd say odds are about 80/20 against him driving this team 60 yards for a score. Don't let your special teams submarine your defense.
To see why even Bears fans think the Eagles are going to win this one, check out Ricky's preview
over on Tremendous Upside Potential. His prediction has me a little worried, though. He's 0/3 so far this season in his Bears' predictions. His prediction probably has more to do with the epic choke job the ChiSox just finished up in Minnesota than football, though.