The Eagles are back to work after a big win over the Giants and will travel to Chicago to face the 7-3 Bears this Sunday at Solider Field. This game has a lot of playoff implications for both teams as both are fighting to stay in contention in both their division races and the tight NFC Playoff picture.
The Eagles revealed some problems offensively last week, like establishing drives and punching the ball into the end zone. This week could be no different. They are going up against a Bears team that’s known to have a fierce stingy defense. And Andy Reid knows his team will have their hands full.
“They are playing so confident right now and so fast and aggressive,” Reid said. “The Bears are playing as good as anybody right now defensively. It’s a great challenge for our guys and it should be an explosive matchup.”
This is a Bears D that everyone felt was a mediocre unit coming into this season but has been playing at an elite level. With players like defensive leader, linebacker Brian Urlacher and free agent prize defensive end Julius Peppers, they are much improved. The Bears are only allowing 14.6 points a game, tied for best in the league.
This is also a team that is second in the league in takeaways with 25. They have really picked up their ability to get to the quarterback, sacking opponents 11 times in the past two games. Chicago ranks up there in every defensive category and have done a great job not to let teams continue drives on them. Opponents have only converted 30% of their third down plays. Eagles QB Michael Vick knows that they have an uphill battle and are going to need to bring their “A” game offensively if they want to return to Philadelphia 8-3.
“The Bears defense, my God, looking at them on film—we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Vick marveled. “Like I said, every week is going to be a challenge in the NFL. It’s a good group of guys that we’re playing against, a lot of veterans over there. They fly around to the football. You’ve got to put together an excellent game plan to beat them.”
Two weeks ago, the offense put up a record-breaking performance against the Redskins, but then last week struggled to move the football for most of the game.
“We’re very confident in what we can do as an offense. There’s going to be some games where things don’t go as well, but you’ve got to continue to keep fighting and bounce back from it,” Vick said of last week’s letdown.
The Eagles are hoping that they can get back on track offensively Sunday after a mediocre performance last week, but it’s going to be a tough task to overcome when they hit the field at 4:00 against the Bears.
You kiddin’ me? Samuel, Herremans fined for penalties.
More fines have come out of the league office against Eagles players after this past Sunday’s game. The NFL announced on Wednesday that they have fined Eagles CB Asante Samuel $40,000 for his “unnecessary” hit on Giants receiver Derek Hagan. Samuel was flagged on the play for unnecessary roughness leading with his helmet. It was a controversial call at the time because on the initial replay it looked like Samuel led with his shoulder and there was some incidental helmet-to-helmet contact.
“It’s unfortunate that the whole thing happened on Sunday where he was flagged,” Coach Reid said. “Because I really think that was a pretty good hit right there.”
Reid isn’t the only one that is upset with the league’s now seemingly overbearing and unfair policy. Samuel himself feels the league isn’t thinking about the defensive players as well.
“They don’t want to pay me to tackle but they will charge me for it,” Samuel said. “What else can I do on that play. I have to look at to defend myself from getting hurt as well.”
Eagles guard Todd Herremans was also fined $5,000 for an illegal block on Giants DT Chris Canty. Herremans got flagged for a “chop” block twice in the game. Canty felt that Herremans was trying to take him out of the game.
“Two of them, the same guy,” Canty told the Newark-Star Ledger. “Either way, it has no place in our game.”
The NFL seems to be serious about this kind of play as they have been giving out fines left and right. It could ruin the integrity of football. Let’s see how this goes down the stretch, because sooner or later a playoff game or the Super Bowl will be decided by an unfortunate flag and what is the NFL going to do then? We shall see.
News and Notes
CB Asante Samuel did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with a leg injury. Reid said that Samuel believes he injured it on the fumble recovery late in the 4th quarter and he doesn’t know his status for this Sunday, going on to say, “We’ll take it day-by-day here and just see how he does.”
The Pro Bowl corner currently leads the NFL with seven interceptions. He also missed a game earlier this year, against the 49ers, due to a concussion. With Samuel not practicing, backup corner Joselio Hanson is getting a bulk of the first team reps opposite of Dimitri Patterson. Trevard Lindley is also getting some reps but mainly in the nickel formation.
DE Juqua Parker did not participate Wednesday or Thursday either, after re-aggravating that hip flexor injury that has been bothering him the past couple of weeks. First round draft pick Brandon Graham will be getting first team reps in Parker’s place.
With Ellis Hobbs done for the year, Andy Reid confirmed that CB Jorrick Calvin will take over the kickoff return duties. Calvin is averaging 22.1 yds a return this season with a long of 41 yards. Also in limited punt return duties, he leads the team averaging 10.5 yards per punt return.
Andy Reid said that newly added CB Brandon Hughes’ role will mainly be special teams and providing depth at corner. He likes his versatility to play multiple corner positions on the inside and outside. Reid talked about what they saw in the young kid: “We just thought he was a good player, so we wanted to add him to our roster.”