The Sex Cannon has been benched, the Griese-Man is under center. The offense is horrible and even the vaunted defense is looking suspect. It looks like the mighty Bears have fallen hard after their Super Bowl appearance last year. Of course, it's looked as if our beloved Eagles are more pretender than contender at times this season as well. One thing is for sure, you can't take teams lightly, especially teams with the talent level of this Chicago team.
The Eagles are coming off an unimpressive (depending on who you ask) win over the hapless Jets (another playoff team from last year that's fallen on hard times). I'd feel much better about this game if Rex Grossman was back there tossing passes to Eagles' DBs, but that ship has sailed. I don't expect anything spectacular from Brian Griese or anyone else on the Bears offensive unit, for that matter. This game is going to come down to two things: scoring early and not beating yourself.
Scoring early is the first key because you do not want to become predictably one-dimensional against a defense with this much talent. You may say the Eagles are predictably one-dimensional by design, and you'd be correct, but playing with a lead gives you the option of running the ball. A deficit and everyone in the stadium and watching at home knows exactly what Andy's going to do: pass, pass and pass some more. The Bears should receive a heavy does of Brian Westbrook in the first half. Adrian Peterson absolutely scorched the Bears last week, and I'd say he's about half the running back Westbrook is. You'd figure Andy has about 25 bullets in his gun, any more touches than that and you're really leaning on #36 too much. I say you fire at least 15 of them in the first half, give him a rest in the third and use Buckhalter and Hunt to carry the load, then put the game away with the last 10 for Westbrook in the fourth, if the game isn't out of reach.
In case you've forgotten, take a look of this video to remind you what Brian Westbrook is capable of:
I have no memory of the end of this particular game. I've blocked it out.
As for the second key, not beating yourself, I don't think I can put the first part any more eloquently than Bleeding Green Nation has in a recent post:
Just kick it out of bounds... It's that simple. Remove the threat.
Obviously, he's referring to Devin Hester, the Bears unbelievable return guy (they also used him on offense last week, he had 1 catch for an 81-yard touchdown). I couldn't agree with BGN more, this Bears offense is so horrible I'd actually consider squibbing every single kickoff, and punting every ball out of bounds. Who cares if they start every drive from the 30 yard line. The odds of the Bears offensive unit capitalizing on good field position seem to be much better than the odds of Hester breaking one at an inopportune time.
The second part of the second key of the game is to avoid turnovers. For the same reasons stated above, I don't want Donovan taking unnecessary chances with the ball. Points may be scarce in this game, but I think the advantage the Eagles' D has over the Bears' O greatly outweighs every other unit vs. unit battle in the game. In fact, I think there's a good chance the Eagles D will score some points of their own this week. The offense's job is to capitalize on mistakes, take a few shots deep, but otherwise methodically, safely, work the ball down the field and put points on the board when they have the chance. If the opportunity doesn't present itself, I'm fine with punting the ball (out of bounds) and putting the pressure on Griese and Co. Use max-protect schemes, and if the play isn't there, throw the ball out of bounds, or dump it off to a safety valve. Don't take needless sacks and whatever you do, don't turn the ball over.
It's a simplistic game plan, because it's a simple formula to win. Take care of the ball, contain Hester, win the game.
Lito Sheppard will probably be back for the game, Brian Dawkins probably will not. I miss seeing Weapon X out there punishing people, here's a video to tide you over until the Dawkshow can get back on the field.
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