Here are 10 things I noticed after re-watching the Bears' loss to the 49ers from last week.
And don't forget to join me tonight for a live chat during the game.
1. The defensive line might have to win this one for the Eagles. The Bears' offensive tackles, Orlando Pace and Chris Williams, struggled throughout during last week's loss. The interior of Chicago's line wasn't much better. Trent Cole, Juqua Parker and company should be able to get to Jay Cutler, which is critical, considering the Eagles' injuries at linebacker and cornerback.
2. The Bears looked very much like a dink-and-dunk offense against San Francisco. Pass after pass to the running backs and tight ends. Cutler didn't even direct a pass to a wide receiver until there was 1:52 left in the first quarter. That means the Eagles' linebackers will be very much in the spotlight.
3. Which of course brings us to their struggles covering opposing tight ends. Greg Olsen had seven catches for 75 yards against the Niners and has 12 catches for 146 yards in his last two games. The Bears line him up all over the place to gain favorable matchups, and Cutler clearly has a comfort level with him.
4. The Bears averaged just 2.0 yards per carry as a team. Matt Forte carried 20 times for 41 yards, and 16 of those yards came on one play. But he's an impressive player. Forte had eight catches for 120 yards, including gains of 37 and 31 on screen passes. He also looked good as a blocker. Well-rounded running back.
5. It's amazing that the Bears still had a chance to win that game, considering how bad they played. Just play after play that killed momentum. After Chicago intercepted Alex Smith, Devin Hester was whistled for back-to-back penalties, a false start and a holding. Later in the game, Cutler found wide receiver Earl Bennett for a big 40-yard gain, but it was negated because of a penalty. With 32 seconds left in the first half, and the Bears down, 7-0, they were called for delay of game after an incompletion. And they had two timeouts left!
6. And then there were Cutler's five interceptions. They came in a variety of ways. One on a terrible throw. Another caused by Hester slipping. Pressure leading to a third. A referee getting in the way on the fourth. And another on a desperate throw. Cutler could have been intercepted at least two more times. I can't imagine what talk-radio would be like if Cutler played in this city. Especially when you look at his body language. That being said, with everyone killing him this week (and for good reason), I did notice Cutler show great toughness on a couple plays. One came after an INT when he was drilled by a 49ers defender, but got back up and helped chase the ballcarrier out of bounds. Cutler could have easily stayed on the ground after getting blocked, but he didn't. On another play, he had an LB in his face, pump faked, stayed in the pocket, and completed a pass, knowing he was about to get drilled.
7. Cutler rarely threw the ball down the field. But Hester can be scary on WR screens and other plays where he has the ball in space. Cutler went to Bennett in the middle of the field. As I mentioned above, he made a big play that was negated by a penalty.
8. Defensively, the Bears did not blitz much. Adewale Ogunleye has a respectable five sacks on the season, and Chicago has some talent in its front four. The Eagles' offensive line was outstanding last week in pass protection and should be able to handle Chicago's pass rush. The Bears' only interception came when Smith tried to take a shot downfield. Donovan McNabb will have to be patient and connect on the intermediate throws like he did in the second half last week.
9. Chicago looked extremely vulnerable against the run. Of course, Frank Gore is a better running back than anyone the Birds will have carrying the ball tonight. He consistently picked up nice gains on the ground, finishing with 104 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry. In other words, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver and company should have some success.
10. Penalties hurt the Bears last week. Sound familiar? If last week is any indication, Soldier Field could be a sea of yellow tonight, and this game might not end until 12:30. Chicago was penalized 10 times for 75 yards. The Eagles are fourth in the league in penalties and penalty yards. The Bears are eighth.