The Eagles defense believes it’s in for more of a challenge from the Bears than most onlookers realize. Even though Chicago is 30th in total offense, the Bears made adjustments during their bye week four weeks ago and have won all three games since. One of the biggest is a renewed focus on the run. Matt Forte was averaging just 12.9 carries per game before the bye, but he’s gotten 20 rushes per game since.
“[Forte is] a guy that you don’t think that’s real fast, but he’s fast and he’s physical too,” said Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham. “A physical back [with] good vision that we’ve seen, he likes to cut back a lot so we’ve got to be responsible.”
In addition to the increased number of runs, Graham says Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is making his decisions quicker.
“[The play calling is] the same, he just gets the ball out faster,” Graham said. “As soon as he gets back there it’s boom, it’s gone. Somebody might have wrapped him up but it’s still gone, it’s out of there.
“Another thing I’ve seen [is] they don’t go for that deep ball as much, they go for those short and intermediate routes.”
While Cutler has been getting rid of the ball a bit quicker, he’s still taking plenty of sacks. Cutler has been brought down six times in three games since the bye, an improvement for a Bears team that has given up a league-worst 37 sacks, but still not very good.
“They’ve had some problems lately and a lot of it isn’t just the o-line, it’s Cutler kind of running around doing crazy stuff because he likes to make plays with his feet a lot,” said defensive tackle Trevor Laws. “So what we’re going to do is just try to make sure we keep him in the pocket make sure we can not let him use his feet to make plays and keep him in there, surround him and let Trent Cole go to work.”
Graham says Cutler doesn’t even have to be scrambling and looking to make plays to be a sack liability. Some of it has to do with the offensive system of Mike Martz, Chicago’s offensive coordinator and play caller, who loves the pass and utilizes deep drops by his quarterbacks.
“It’s just about how much depth he gets,” Graham said. “That’s why I can’t wait, because he gets about nine yards back. So it’s going to be a fun day, we’ve got to make sure we just keep coming and just make sure we just disrupt him back there, because we know he likes to use his arm and he thinks his arm is real strong and can make any throw. So that’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve just got to disrupt him back there, like what we’ve seen is when you disrupt him, it’s a different game.”
Cutler has been sacked three or more times in 7 of Chicago’s 10 games this year. In those seven, he’s thrown four touchdowns and eight interceptions. In the other three games, Cutler has tossed eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions.
Clearly one of the important matchups in this game will be the Bears much-maligned offensive line against the Eagles front four. It looks like a big advantage for Philadelphia, unless Cutler can get rid of the ball in a hurry and avoid pressure.
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