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Bears Goal Line Stand Denies Eagles Win


The Eagles lost to the Chicago Bears 24-20 last Sunday night. This game was full of mistakes, questionable coaching decisions, and poorly executed plays. There were so many frustrating moments in this game, and the result was another close loss for the Birds. The Eagles are now in last place in the NFC East

The Good And Bad Of DeSean: DeSean Jackson has quickly become the Eagles biggest threat at WR. In this game he made some really big plays. Jackson finished the game with 5 catches for 71 yards, and a TD. He also ran 2 reverses for 35 total yards.

This was the good of DeSean Jackson. He seems to fit right into the Eagles offense, and has been an exciting player to watch. He gives the Eagles another big play option to the offense.

Then came the bad of DeSean. Early in the second quarter Jackson muffed a punt which was recovered by Chicago. The Bears were able to capitalize on the great field position, and scored a touchdown.

Here is Jackson’s explanation of what happened.

"“All week in practice, I noticed that their punter was booming them, and their cover guys were able to get down the field when the ball came down,” he said. “I was looking at the punt team and I was indecisive about whether to call a fair catch or not, and I just fumbled it. I really need to focus on the ball. … I just made a fumble. I just made a mistake, and I have to live with it. But you can’t afford mistakes like that in the National Football League.”"

Later in the game Jackson was not on the same page as QB Donovan McNabb, and the result was an interception. After the play McNabb appeared upset by the route that DeSean ran. McNabb threw the ball to a spot, and Jackson was not there. To me it looked like Jackson was supposed to run a post, but instead he ran an out.

"“I was being a little impatient,” Jackson said. “I cut off the route, and Donovan threw it. It was a mistake on my part.”"

You like to see that the Eagles drafted a talented rookie WR who can make plays, but you also do not like to see the rookie mistakes. This is the main reason why Andy Reid does not like to play rookies very much. He hates when young players make crucial mistakes, and in the past he has rarely given rookies this much playing time.

"“To me, honestly, it felt like a tough one for me,” Jackson said. “I didn’t play as well as I could have.”"

In fact an interesting note from John Madden during the game, was that Andy Reid told him he has his entire “explosive plays” chart designed for DeSean Jackson. With the injury to Curtis Jackson is the guy that Reid is relying on. If DeSean can cut out the mistakes, and continue to grow as a player, he could become something special.

"“I’ll get in there and watch film and learn from it,” Jackson said. “They expect me to do a lot of things faster than a lot of rookies, and I respect that and I understand that. The veterans look at me to make plays, and I’ve got to make plays to help the team.”"

Tale Of Two Halves: The Eagles defense was getting sliced apart in the first half by a mediocre QB in Kyle Orton. The Bears ran a no huddle offense which seemed to give the Eagles fits.

The Bears scored on their first possession with 3 plays. Kyle Orton dropped back, and hit a wide open Rashied Davis for 34 yards. The Bears then ran a screen to Matt Forte which gained 6 yards, and capped off the drive with a 19 yard touchdown pass from Orton to tight end Greg Olsen.

This series was embarrassing to the “D”, and was shocking to watch.

The Bears had more big plays in the first half. Kyle Orton hit veteran Marty Booker for a 23 yard touchdown. After a missed 50 yard David Akers field goal, Chicago scored again with a touchdown pass to the speedy Devin Hester.

One thing I noticed that really killed the Eagles on these plays, was the Bears blitz pick up. They stayed max protect for most of the game, and when the Eagles blitzed they often payed for it with a big play in the passing game.

At half time Jim Johnson must have tore his unit a new one, because they were a disgrace in the first half. Good adjustments helped the Eagles shut down the Bears in the 2nd half. Here is how each Bears drive ended from the 3rd quarter. Punt, Interception, Punt, Fumble, Punt, Fumble, Field Goal, and Punt. Pretty good job of the defense bouncing back in the second half.

When you look at the stat sheet the Eagles defense did well. They finished the game with 4 sacks, 4 turnovers, and held RB Matt Forte to 43 yards on 19 carries. The big plays in the first half were really where they got hurt.

Devin Hester Is A Field Position Nightmare: Whether you kick it to him, or don’t kick it to him, Devin Hester is a problem for field position. The Eagles tried a little of everything with Hester, but nothing seemed to work very well. When they kicked the ball to Hester, he had a good return. When they kicked the ball short, the Bears got a short return, but still good field position.

Punting to Hester was also a problem. At times Sav Rocca boomed the ball too far, and out kicked his coverage. This gave Hester a chance for a return, and he is deadly with the ball in his hands. Other times the Eagles tried to angle punt out of bounds, but this also gave the Bears good field position. No matter what they tried the Bears always seemed to start with the ball near mid field. A few first downs put them in easy field goal range.

What Was Reid Thinking?: How many times during this game did you ask yourself this question? I kept wondering what was going through Andy Reid’s mind, and so many other questions kept arising.

Why didn’t Andy Reid challenge the Greg Olsen touchdown? Why not challenge the very bad Matt Forte spot which lead to a Bears TD? Why go into the first half with two timeouts in your pocket? Why did Reid run up the middle 4 times from the one? Why not run a QB sneak there? What was with the play calling in the red zone?

I like Andy Reid, and I am not the typical “blame the coach” kind of guy, but Andy Reid had a bad game. After ten years of being the Eagles head coach, you would think Reid would be past some of these mistakes. The players need to make plays on the field, but the coach needs to do his job as well. I have to put a major part of this loss squarely on Andy Reid’s shoulders.

Bad Day For Akers: David Akers missed two long field goals, and many fans wonder if he is done or not. I think that maybe fans are overreacting here. Akers missed wide right from 50 yards, and hit the right upright from 47 yards. The distance was there on both kicks, but the issue was the accuracy. I think kicking from the right hash mark from that distance is a problem for David. Akers is a left footed kicker, and ideally you want a lefty to kick field goals from the left hash mark.

"“Obviously, it’s disappointing,” Akers said, “not only missing the kicks for myself, but when you lose by four and the outcome would’ve been six points if you would’ve made those, that obviously makes a big difference to the organization and to the fans and all that. As a player and somebody who takes pride in what he does, that hits you kind of hard.“The great thing is the sun came up this morning, I’ve got a healthy family, and I’m going to bounce back from it.”"

I think if those kicks were kicked from the left hash mark, he probably makes them both.

Still One Yard Away: If you can not gain 1 yard in the NFL you do not deserve to win the game. At the end of the game the Eagles were in prime position to score and take the lead with only minutes left to go. This is how the goal line stand by the Bears went down.

On first-and-goal Correll Buckhalter rushed for 3 yards to get the ball to the 1. On second-and-goal Reid called for FB slow RB Tony Hunt to rush up the middle, but instead of hitting the hole hard, Hunt strung the play wide, and was gang tackled by the Bears. The Bears stopped a leaping Correll Buckhalter mid-air on third-and-goal. Then on a crucial 4th-and-goal Andy Reid called for another Buckhalter run up the middle which was stopped just short of the end zone.

Poor blocking and bad play calling prevented the Eagles from scoring this touchdown and winning this game. When you get that close to the goal line, you do not call long developing plays like Reid did. When everybody is in tight the way the Bears were, you need perfect blocking to run the ball in. The best call would have been a QB sneak, because there is no time for the defense to react. McNabb just needs to lean forward 18 inches, and the Eagles win the game.

Reid has a lame excuse for not running the sneak.

"“I didn’t feel comfortable with him having sat out all week of practice because of an injury. Common sense tells you that you have to be smart with that. To look back on his record of sneaks, it’s almost flawless, but again, you have to use judgment on that.”"

The annoying part of that comment, is that Reid even admits that McNabb is almost flawless at the sneak. It is also funny that Reid did not want McNabb to sneak with an injury, but he has McNabb drop back to pass 43 times during the game. He also ran Correll Buckhalter right into that same line 3 times, and he had injured his back earlier in the game.

This explanation is not cutting it for me, and I am pissed that the sneak was not used. Andy Reid dropped the ball in this game, and he needs to make better decisions for the Birds to win football games.