Staff writer Steve Fini looks back at five players who made the difference in Monday night’s loss.
Earl Bennett (WR/Chicago) – I stated in my player preview for this game that the problem for the Eagles secondary would be getting off the field on third down, and that Dane Sanzenbacher, the Bears slot receiver, would be the reason. Well, I wasn’t aware that Bennett was going to play like Jerry Rice, but I at least I had the right position. This isn’t the first time a no-name slot receiver has torched the Eagles this season. That is exactly what Bennett did and what the Eagles defense can’t stop. Playing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot is a mistake. I never liked that the Eagles got him in the first place, but he certainly was better in Arizona than he is now. The Bears’ ability to exploit DRC in the slot won them the game.
Jay Cutler (QB/Bears) – While I don’t want to take anything away from Cutler, the Eagles made it easy on him. No sacks, basically no hits (except for that awful roughing the passer call), and no pressure. Sure Cutler made some big throws, but he only threw for a shade over 200 yards. The Eagles pass rush was just non-existent against a bad Chicago offensive line and gave Cutler all the time in the world to throw the ball. When plays had to be made, however, Cutler did it. He outshined Michael Vick, somehow. Cutler kept drives going, no matter how many yards the Bears needed for a first down, and Vick couldn’t keep up. It’s also yet another game in which the Eagles played a turnover-prone quarterback only to let him pick them apart. I don’t know what this Philly defense is thinking right now, but it can’t be excited to play guys like Tom Brady.
Desean Jackson (WR/Eagles) – I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with Jackson, but he was awful on Monday night. His two catches for 16 yards wasn’t even the half of it. No production at wide receiver, a terrible fumble as a punt returner, and dropped passes combined for what had to be Jackson’s worst game as an Eagle. Everyone knows Jackson is better than that. I don’t think it’s him concentrating on the money or fame. I think it Jackson trying to prove his worth by doing too much on a big stage. He tried to be the star, but he became the goat instead.
Trent Cole (DE/Eagles) – This is more of an entire defensive line failing to do what it has done all season and less of a knock on one player, but when he is the best player on a defense that does nothing, he should get the blame. Cole was non-existent as was the rest of the line. Cole, specifically, missed some big tackles. The one that stands out is on the Marion Barber (good God I can’t believe I’m saying this) touchdown run where “the Barbarian” just ran over Cole. Couple that with his lack of pass rush and it’s not so hard to figure out how the Bears scored 30 points.
Asante Samuel (CB/Eagles)– I’d like to find someone besides Samuel himself who wants to defend his play this season. He’s played well in his time here, but he’s certainly done a 180 this season. It’s not even his tackling that is the focal point, but his obvious lack-of-desire to do anything on the field except whatever he wants. I’m not Juan Castillo and I’m not going to act like I know what he wants done on the field, but it’s obvious Samuel is not listening to him. If you’re a corner who wants to play off the line of scrimmage then fine. There are plenty guys who do so in the league who are successful. But when your opponent is inside the 10 yard line and you’re playing five yards off and three yards inside of him, it’s not the coach. I’d question Samuel’s desire to tackle, too. Several times he would get “tangled” with a blocker simply to avoid contact. I think it’s obvious Samuel won’t be here next season, so take him off the field and slide Rodgers-Cromartie outside. It can’t be any worse.