Eagles-Bears Instant Observations
CHICAGO — The Eagles beat the Bears, 29-14, to improve to 2-0. Doug Pederson is the first Eagles head coach in the Super Bowl era to win his first two games, and the Birds lead the NFL in point differential at +34. Here’s what we saw:
*Carson Wentz completed 21 of his 34 pass attempts for 190 yards, one touchdown and an 86.6 passer rating. He had a quiet second half, but he played better than his overall numbers suggested because of some impressive first-half plays. Jordan Matthews led the Eagles in receiving with six catches for 71 yards, while Trey Burton added five receptions for 49 yards.
*Wentz looked poised and prepared in the opening drive as he completed eight of his nine pass attempts for 45 yards to five different receivers. The Eagles went no-huddle on the first six plays in an empty shotgun formation, leaving the quarterback to make a lot of pre-snap calls at the line of scrimmage. Wentz connected on a lot of short, easy throws and he did a good job of recognizing blitzes. On both of the Bears’ blitzes, Wentz quickly got the ball out of his hands to the hot read. The only blemish, however, was his incompletion to Brent Celek in the red zone, when he threw a ball that could’ve used some more touch to get over the defender.
*The Eagles’ offense stalled in the red zone in both first-half trips, leaving them with just six points. The Eagles also only ran the ball 10 times for 21 yards in the first half, which hurt them in the red zone.
*However, Pederson ran the ball much more in the second half, and Ryan Mathews scored a pair of rushing touchdowns. Mathews is now tied for the league lead in scores on the ground with three. The Birds finished the game with 100 yards on the ground, but their yards per carry plummeted from 4.2 to 3.1 as they ran out the clock at the end of the game.
*Here’s something we saw last week that Wentz did again in the first half: He made up for a questionable decision with a heck of a throw. As he rolled to the left in the two-minute drive, he located Nelson Agholor over the middle. Wentz threw the ball late and across his body, but the ball was good enough to connect for 18 yards, setting up a field goal.
*Something else we’ve seen in Philadelphia: A big-time drop. Wentz threw a beautiful 35-yard fade ball to Matthews, who dropped the potential touchdown catch. I didn’t catch a replay, but on live viewing, it looked like the Bears were in cover-1 man, which is the coverage Wentz threw both of his touchdown passes against Cleveland last week.
*After not playing well against Cleveland, Jason Kelce had a very bad second quarter against Chicago. His holding penalty negated an impressive deep ball over the middle from Wentz as the quarterback took a big hit. On the next play, Kelce committed a face mask penalty — although the Bears declined it.
*Allen Barbre, meanwhile, had an up-and-down game. He had a rough series in the opening drive of the second half as he missed a block on the first run play, which led to a tackle for a short gain, before allowing a sack.
*Jim Schwartz’s unit turned in a nice performance. The defense allowed just seven points, and they forced three turnovers in the second half. Ron Brooks and Jordan Hicks both recovered fumbles, while Nigel Bradham intercepted Jay Cutler, returning the ball 28 yards to set up a Mathews touchdown run. Destiny Vaeao also injured Cutler when he forced a fumble and recorded his first career sack.
*Jalen Mills didn’t look good as he filled in for Brooks at outside corner in the base defense on the Bears’ third drive. Chicago marched 65 yards in six plays for a touchdown, and Mills allowed 57 of those yards. On this first play, Mills missed a tackle, allowing eight yards; later, he gave up a 49-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery. On the next drive, Schwartz unsurprisingly plugged Brooks back in at corner in the Eagles’ base defense.
*Also on that touchdown drive: Stephen Tulloch was in for Hicks at MIKE linebacker. Instead of moving Hicks over, Schwartz kept Bradham and Mychal Kendricks at SAM and WILL linebacker.
*The Eagles’ defensive line generated a pretty good amount of first-half pressure. Brandon Graham recorded a sack in the second quarter and blew up the right tackle on play in the first quarter. Fletcher Cox drew a first-quarter holding penalty, and he later bulldozed the right guard to collapse the pocket. Even Marcus Smith made some noise as he moved Cutler off of the quarterback’s spot and forced an under-thrown ball. However, Jeffery beat Mills so badly the pass was still completed.
*Another defensive line note: I still don’t understand why teams leave the backside defensive end unblocked on run plays against the Eagles. That’s fine if you’re facing a 3-4 two-gapping team, but when the defensive line gets off of the ball as quickly as the Birds, that’s a big gamble.