I’m putting up the Eagles-Bears preview a little early this weekend because I will be away on Sunday to close up the old fishing shanty for the winter. But I will be listening to the game on an AM radio feed from Salisbury, Maryland, so I will be here in spirit.
The Chicago Bears (3-7) are in town to try to mess up the Eagles’ 8-game win streak.
Not too long ago I witnessed the Bears go into Baltimore and shock the Ravens behind a solid defense and a rookie QB in his second start who was instructed to keep the ball on the ground and minimize his downfield throws. Since then the Bears have played well in tough losses, relying on a combo of defense and ball control.
That’s close to the formula the Eagles will see—except the rookie QB has expanded his role. And the Bears are allowing him to wing it more often on designed rollouts and scrambles.
Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is ecstatic with the strides made by his rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
After throwing his only two interceptions of the season on two-minute drives late in losses to the Vikings and Saints, Trubisky put the Bears in position to tie last Sunday’s game in the final seconds. He led the offense from its own 17 to the Detroit 28 in just 1:23, setting up a 46-yard field-goal attempt that Connor Barth pushed wide to the right.
“He got us in position to succeed,” Loggains said. “For him to take us down and get us into field-goal range was a big step in his growth.”
In other words, the Eagles have a bit of a wild card factor to game-plan for in young Trubisky.
Here’s how Larry Mayer at ChicagoBears.com reports the emerging development of the Bears’ QB:
“Trubisky picked up first downs with passes of nine yards to Tre McBride III and 10 yards to Daniel Brown. Then on the final two plays of the drive, the second pick in the draftrd scrambled on fourth-and-13 and followed with a 15-yard completion to Dontrelle Inman.
“I was on the sideline saying, ‘No, you can’t do that, Mitchell, you can’t do it, Mitchell,’ and all of a sudden it was, ‘Wow, Mitchell,'” Loggains said. “That’s a heck of a football play.”
“The last throw to get us down to the 28, to get to No. 3 in your progression and sit in the pocket the way he did, it was an absolute dime that he hit Inman with. Dontrelle did a great job coming back to the ball on a negative angle. It was a really good football play. It was unfortunate we couldn’t finish the game because I thought Mitchell deserved that one.”
Trubisky’s coaches and teammates have praised the young quarterbacks for maintaining a calm demeanor even in the most pressure-filled situations.
“I would say it’s pretty natural,” Trubisky said. “I love those moments. That’s where you have kind of seen over time where the great quarterbacks have come from, just to be clutch, deliver in those moments. It makes that game that much more fun. You definitely want to deliver for your team, but it’s all about staying cool, calm, collected, making sure everyone’s on the same page and going down and do your job. It’s my job to stay calm in those situations. Hopefully my teammates will feed off my body language so nobody’s in a panic and everybody can just go down and do their job.”
Trubisky completed 18 of 30 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and an 88.1 passer rating against the Lions. He also was sacked only once after being sacked five times a week earlier in a loss to the Packers.
Trubisky also rushed for 53 yards on six carries versus Detroit, with several of the runs coming on read-option plays. Asked about balancing the risk of Trubisky incurring an injury with the reward of a big gain, Loggains said: “It’s a fine line, and that’s why we don’t do it every week.”
“It is something that creates problems for the defense. But you’ve also got to work really hard to make sure that you don’t put your quarterback in a tough spot. And he’s got to be smart and take care of himself, which I thought he did a really good job getting down. That’s the most important thing is to protect yourself, understanding what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s just a different wrinkle to affect the defensive end or slow down a pass rush like a screen or a draw.”
So there’s a new element to add to the defensive challenge facing the Eagles on Sunday. Mitch Trubisky is gaining confidence and crucial experience and the Bears are lengthening his leash. He is trying his best to do a Carson Wentz impression based upon his rapid first-year growth. The potential problem for the Birds in scouting the Bears’ offense is that it’s a week-to-week league now, and Trubisky is evolving on a weekly basis.
This point made by Loggains reminded me of what the Eagles were saying about Carson Wentz as a rookie starter in 2016:
“He should hold himself to a very high standard because we do. But we all know the reality of the situation. He has played 18 games since high school. Every day to this point that he’s taken the field, he’s played better. That’s what we keep telling him: ‘Keep stacking good games. We’re going to keep playing better around you. We’ll keep putting you in good situations, and the wins are going to come.”
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At least the Bears defense will be without Leonard Floyd (their best pass-rusher) this Sunday. The Bears now have to turn to Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho, because outside linebacker Willie Young is also unavailable for Sunday (Injured Reserve). There will be a drop-off without Floyd on the field.
Chris McPherson of PE.com also cautions us to be wary of the Bears’ other rookie X-factor on offense—Tarik Cohen at running back and wide receiver. He’s also the primary return man on kickoffs and punts. Cohen is extremely elusive and has great speed in the open field. Between offense/special teams – Cohen will probably touch the ball 15-20 times on Sunday. Don’t be fooled by Cohen’s size (5-6): he’s a tough runner. The only negative is that Cohen sometimes tries to do too much, and ends up losing yards for the Bears.
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Ryan Lubrich’s Discord.com live-talk forum will be up and running for this one on game day. Kickoff at the Linc is 1:00 P.M. EST.
Here’s a link to his interesting new talk machine if you wish to give it a look:
As Ryan explains, it’s like a chat channel, primarily used by like-gamers who stream on Twitch, but he figured we might be able to use it for gameday chats. I have found it to be very functional and very entertaining. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of some of the whistles and bells, but after a short while I was zooming along with the other EYE guys and Bored members there talking Eagles football.
It even auto-refreshes on every comment!
I’ll be trying to follow along from the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Cell coverage is dicey out there. But my trusty transistor radio will be my backup.