Eagles-Bears: What We're Watching

Eagles' Jason Avant hauls in a pass against the Chargers. His eight catches for 156 yards were a career high. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

Each week, Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch will tell you the things he will be keeping his eyes on during that week’s game:

1. Defending the tight end: The Eagles will face yet another dangerous pass-catching tight end in the Bears’ Greg Olsen. In the last six games, opposing tight ends have 43 catches for 532 yards and five touchdowns vs. the Eagles. Olsen, who has 34 catches, including six TDs, is one of Jay Cutler’s favorite targets. Only WR Devin Hester has had more passes thrown in his direction (73) than Olsen (51).

2. Jay’s interceptions: Jay Cutler has a league-high 17 interceptions, including five in last week’s 10-6 loss to the 49ers. He’ll be going against a defense that has been very good at forcing interceptions. The Eagles have 15, the third most in the league, but just one in the last two games.

3. Eagles’ third-down defense: The Eagles are ninth in the league in third-down defense, but have struggled lately. In their last three games, opponents have converted 46.1 percent of their third-down opportunities, compared to 29.7 in the first six games. Last week, they allowed the Chargers to convert two critical third downs late in the game that helped put the game on ice.

4. The real McCoy: With Brian Westbrook out after suffering another concussion, the spotlight is on rookie LeSean McCoy. He played well in the three previous games Westbrook has missed, averaging 5.0 yards per carry in those games. He’s still a work in progress with respect to blitz recognition, though. He failed to pick up a blitz last week that resulted in a sack.

5. The longest yards: The Eagles are among the league leaders in big plays. They’ve had 38 plays of 20 or more yards. But they haven’t been nearly as successful lately with shorter distances. In their back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and Chargers, they converted just one of seven third downs of 2 yards or less. They were 3-for-7 in the red zone in those two games.


Who should start at middle linebacker for the Eagles?


To read our earlier post with reports on injuries, the changes at linebacker and more, click here.