Joniak: Keys To Bears-Eagles

Kickoff is set for noon from Lincoln Financial Field.

Jeff Joniak
November 01, 2019 - 5:05 pm
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(WBBM Newsradio) The Bears (3-4) visit the Eagles (4-4) on Sunday. Kickoff is set for noon from Lincoln Financial Field, and the game can be heard on WBBM Newsradio 780.

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Let's break down the keys to the game.

Offense

-- If the Bears pick up where they left off against the Chargers, it means they will run the ball effectively, pass the ball efficiently, stretch the field with some explosive plays and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will make important "conviction" throws while picking up a couple of key first downs with his legs.

-- Trubisky did all of that last week. Protecting the ball is something he didn't do -- and on the road against the Eagles, he must.

-- Philadelphia likes to load up the box and sell out against the run. The Eagles are eighth in rushing defense, and only Ezekiel Elliott has gone surpassed the 100-yard mark against them this season. The Bears still have to get their rushing yards, but there should be perimeter opportunities in the passing game.

-- The Eagles have permitted 16 passing touchdowns, which ranks 27th in the NFL. If the Bears' offensive line can minimize the impact of star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and the rest of the front four, there may be opportunities to make some plays.

-- The Bears are last in the NFL in average yards per completion, ranking as the only team with less than nine yards per catch. Their hope is they can get more yards after the catch and stretch the field to loosen up the line of scrimmage.

-- Bears receiver Allen Robinson’s big performance in the wild-card round loss to the Eagles in January is a reason to be hopeful against a suspect secondary.

-- Missing on any scoring opportunities in the red zone or goal-to-go situations is a non-starter if the Bears want to find success.

Defense

-- Bears star pas rusher Khalil Mack and Co. are in for a battle against a decorated Eagles offensive line. Even without injured left tackle and nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters, the Eagles' front five is a handful. His replacement is highly regarded rookie Andre Dillard. And right guard Brandon Brooks is one of the best in the league.

-- The first priority for the Eagles is minimizing the impact of Mack. How the Bears scheme to pry him free from the attention is an important key in this game. The Bears rank No. 1 in quarterback hurry percentage, per Pro Football Reference, and third in overall quarterback pressure percentage. The sacks may not be piling up for the Bears, but the pressure is there.

-- Stopping the run will require proper tackling technique and finishing for the Bears. Jordan Howard is gaining yards after contact and rushing first downs for the Eagles, with rookie Miles Sanders now becoming more of a dual threat with hefty receiving numbers in the last few weeks. They're a good one-two punch that was utilized to the tune of 170 yards and two touchdowns in bad weather in Buffalo last week.

-- With the pressure comes breaking the pipes and forcing turnovers in clutch moments. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is dynamic and capable of using his feet to extend plays. He holds the ball longer than the Eagles would like at times, which should create opportunities for the Bears to pounce on. The Bears need to find ways to create big plays.

Special teams

-- Mistakes on special teams will prove costly in an important game like this one against the Eagles. Everyone is looking for a clean game, which includes eliminating penalties and poor decisions. 

-- Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro needs to answer the call to action and flush his rough performance from last Sunday.

-- The Bears must utilize the best return duo in the league in Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen for big plays, which will create great field position.

Intangibles

-- One of the best battles of the day: the Bears fifth-rated third-down defense against the Eagles' second-ranked third-down offense (49 percent). It will be a battle that could affect the outcome of the game.

-- For the Bears, a quick start that sends an immediate message to the Eagles is the way to go about ending the three-game losing streak. Philadelphia repeatedly stumbles out of the gate, ranking 26th in scoring differential in the first quarter and 25th in the first half. The Eagles are 1-4 when trailing at halftime this season. Defensively, the Bears continue to thrive on quick starts but have also permitted 20 touchdowns in the fourth quarter of their last 23 games. 

-- Even with a fast start, the Bears need a big finish.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.