This could be a game thats haunts Philadelphia all year long. With an extremely tough division schedule on deck, and your division competition coming out of the gate quickly this was a game you truly wanted to win and didn't. Let's take a quick look at all three phases of the game and how they contributed to an Eagles 24-20 loss to the Bears.
Offense: A number of factors contributed to the inability of the Eagles to put up the offensive numbers necessary to win a hard fought game against a tough defense. First gleaming factor was the absense of Brian Westbrook due to his sprained ankle, requiring the Eagles to retool their offense to account for Correll Buckhalter. The passing game looked rather efficient considering you are still missing your first wide receiver in Kevin Curtis, but the ground game was a different story. The coaching staff was out coached in terms of a running gameplan, trying to continually run in the middle of the field right into the teeth of the Bear's front seven.
Offensively, production accounted for 20 points although the potential for many more existed. Many questions continue to surround the 4th quarter goal line stand where the Eagles coaching staff called four consecutive run plays inside the tackles, ultimately getting no points when the Bears held them on fourth down. Coupled with some early inefficiencies, the lack of balance on offense cost the Eagles any chance at consistently moving the ball throughout the game.
Will the Eagles continue to struggle with offensive balance if Brian Westbrook is sidelined again? Can Correll Buckhalter fill the gap adequately with proper play calling to provide the running game the continuity it needs to provide better passing game matchups. These questions will be answered in week 5 and will ultimately determine the direction of the Eagles season facing a tough and very physical Redskins defense.
Defense: This game against the Bears was a tale of two halves in terms of game planning and the effectiveness of the gameplan against the opposition. Again the Eagles employed a scheme based on their bread and butter, which is largely speed, blitzes, speed, and physicality. Unfortunately this speed and blitzing wasn't properly implemented during a better part of the first half as Kyle Orton had an good half putting up 21 points on 3 TD passes.
On top of the pressure created through blitzing, the Eagles front 7 was dominant against the run, holding rookie Matt Forte to a meager 43 yards on th ground. Teams who give up the fewest rushing yards in the NFL typically have success on defense and as the game waged on, this became evident. This week's matchup will test the ability of the front 7 to continually create pressure and fill gaps, while the secondary holds tight man based coverage on two wide receivers who have played for the most part above their collaborative talent level.
Special Teams: As big as special teams were in the Steelers win, they were mediocre in the Eagles loss to the Bears. While coverage on return extrordinaire Devin Hester was very good, highly touted rookie DeSean Jackson fumbled a crucial punt in the second quarter which was recovered by the Bears turning into 7 points. David Akers was...........well he was David Akers tonight and that was far from good as he again missed two field goals from 47 and 50 yards. If he hits even one of those two, the Eagles would not have had to go for a touchdown on the Bears 1 yard line.
Bottomline: AGAIN, Wins could become absolutely critical in the highly competitive NFC East, where 3 of the NFL's top 5 teams are located. With that in mind, this weeks matchup against the Redskins may be the most important contest of the year to date, matching the Eagles highly powered offense if Brian Westbrook plays, against a very physical Redskins defense. The key to the game should be the Eagle's defensive to create pressure and turnovers against a balanced Redskins offensive attack. As long as Brian Westbrook remains on the sidelines, the defense will have to continue to carry the Eagles.
Prediction: Brian Westbrook plays and the Eagles return to the confines of Lincoln Financial Field winning 30-17