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Eagles, Bears Have Plenty In Common

Posted Dec 18, 2013

On Tuesday, cornerback Cary Williams said Sunday’s loss to Minnesota was a good thing for the Eagles. According to Williams, the game was a wake-up call that the Eagles needed as they prepare for a critical two-week stretch to end the regular season. Head coach Chip Kelly dismissed the notion that the loss was good for his team; although he did agree that there was a lot that his team could take away from their performance.

“I don’t think any loss is a good thing, but I think that you can learn from the situation that you’re in and that’s a very valid point,” Kelly said. “Losses happen, wins happen, and you’ve got to learn from all of your experiences and then get ready for your next game. You just learn from every situation that you’re in. What do we do in critical situations? We didn’t keep our poise very well in the fourth quarter (on Sunday). There are a lot of different things that we can learn.”

After breaking down his team’s performance in Minnesota, Kelly has now turned his attention to the Chicago Bears, a team that has many similarities to the Eagles. Both teams are 8-6 and are pushing for a playoff appearance in the first season under a new head coach. Both teams also feature explosive offenses that have thrived with two different quarterbacks at the helm. Kelly expects to see a number of different looks from Chicago’s offense, which ranks seconds in the league in points per game with 29.0.

“(Their offense has) a lot of diversity,” said Kelly. “They do a really good job of attacking you with different personnel groups and schemes. Sometimes it’s six offensive linemen where one of the linemen is actually playing a wing in the backfield.”

Kelly acknowledges that the first aspect of the Bears offense which “jumps out” is the “talent at receiver.” Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery form one of the league’s most dangerous duos and don’t forget about Earl Bennett, who has had success against the Eagles in the past.

“You’ve got two really, really big guys that have great range and can go get it and even when they’re covered one-on-one, it doesn’t mean that they’re covered,” Kelly said. “They’ve got maybe the most complete back when you look at (Matt) Forte, in terms of his pass protection pickup, his ability to be a receiver out of the backfield and then his ability to run. The one thing about them that you admire is that they didn’t miss a beat when they went to their backup quarterback and that’s kind of a credit to the system that Marc (Trestman) is running up there.”

Unfortunately for the Eagles defense, there are injury concerns in the secondary that won’t help the process of trying to slow down the Bears playmakers. Safety Earl Wolff may be able to return from a knee injury, but the injuries are something that Kelly says his team will have to cope with.

“No one is going to give us a waiver because we’re banged up,” Kelly said. “It’s part of what this deal is all about, but we look at it as a chance for us to go out and compete, and that’s what we’ve got. We’ve got a bunch of competitive guys and competitive coaches that want to go challenge themselves, and there is not a better group of receivers to challenge yourself with than those two guys that they put out there in Marshall and Jeffery.”

While shutting down the Bears offensive weapons may be priority No.1, it’s important to not forget about Chicago’s dynamic special teams. One week after keeping the ball away from Vikings returner Cordarrelle Patterson, the Eagles will have to deal with Devin Hester, one of the best kick returners in NFL history. The Bears rank second in the NFL in kick return yards per game (behind only Minnesota), so Kelly knows how important it will be to have a strong showing on special teams.

“It’s a huge challenge,” explained the head coach. “When you look at this game and everything is so close, there’s not one factor that you can overlook. The game may be determined on special teams. That’s a big point of emphasis for us, but it’s always been a big point of emphasis for us.

“(Hester) is a threat. (He and Patterson) are different types of returners, but he’s as big of a threat that there is in the league. (Patterson) is more of a physical return guy, just because of his size and what he does, but Devin is more of a speed guy. He’s just as big of a threat in terms of every time that he touches the ball, there is a potential for him to return it for a touchdown.”

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