The Philadelphia Eagles entered Week One surrounded with questions, and they gave the critics a loud answer as they defeated Cleveland Browns 29-10. Carson Wentz proved the skeptics wrong, demonstrating that he is truly ready to be an NFL quarterback. The newly improved defense also made a statement against Browns last Sunday, holding them to just ten points. Many are now saying that the Eagles did not prove anything because they were playing a lackluster Cleveland team, but here is how the Eagles can give an encore performance Monday night in Chicago.
Philadelphia Eagles Keys to Victory for Week Two
Do Not Let Anyone Behind You
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is known for taking chances. Throwing the ball down the field 25 or 30 yards to open a drive is not out of the ordinary for Cutler. Bears receiver, Alshon Jeffery had a 54-yard reception last week, while Eddie Royal and Kevin White each had 19-yard catches themselves. All three receivers can turn on the burners in a blink of an eye, which means the Eagles secondary needs to as well.
Last week against Cleveland, the Eagles were victim to two long passes; 58 yards to Corey Coleman and 44 yards to Terrelle Pryor. The Eagles secondary can not afford to give up high caliber plays like those to the Bears. Safeties, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, need to help corners over the top if receivers go deep. The Eagles would be in a much better position to win if they let the Bears check down to short routes all the way down the field. With lots of passes per possession, Cutler is bound to make a mistake. Forcing interceptions will help the Eagles’ chances of coming out of Soldier Field with a win.
Pressure Jay Cutler
Flustering Cutler in the pocket should be a main goal of the Eagles defense. He does not have the smoothest feet moving outside of the tackle box and mistakes are more likely to arise when he is on the move. Last week at Houston, Cutler fumbled twice and threw one interception. A simple way for the Eagles to rattle Cutler is to blitz the interior line heavily. Defensive tackles, Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan need to be on their “A” game during the pass rush, and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz must blitz inside linebackers during passing situations.
Both Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are good options to blitz Chicago’s rookie center, Cody Whitehair. With Whitehair being very inexperienced with NFL disguised blitzes, he may struggle with making protection calls, letting the Eagles defense get away with some easy hits on Cutler. Chicago’s offensive line let Cutler get sacked five times last week. Even if the defense does not get to Cutler quick lyenough for the sack, just knocking him around will get him unsettled.
Let Wentz Throw at Least 35 Passes Again
To the whole league’s surprise, Carson Wentz had an eye-opening rookie debut last week against Cleveland. 278 passing yards, two touchdowns, and a win are very satisfying statistics for a quarterback’s first game in the NFL. Despite the pressure the Browns were getting on Wentz, he did not force any passes or take many sacks. He did not have first game jitters, instead he looked like a comfortable, established NFL quarterback.
For the Eagles to have the same amount of success they had last week, they need to stick to the same offensive scheme they had last game. Wentz threw 37 passes last week, which was evenly balanced with 34 plays on the ground. Keeping a balanced air-ground attack against Chicago will make the Eagles offense unpredictable. This will not let the Bears defense pack the box to protect against the run or drop eight men in coverage. Instead, Chicago’s defense will resort to playing a base defense most of the time, which makes it easier for Wentz to pick them apart and make easy reads.
The Eagles proved many doubters wrong last week after a 29-10 win against Cleveland, but some are still not convinced the Eagles can hang with the big boys. Carson Wentz will continue his rookie campaign on primetime Monday Night Football in Chicago. This week’s game will ultimately come down to both sides’ quarterbacks, Carson Wentz and Jay Cutler, making plays in the spotlight.