EAGLES DEFENSE vs. BEARS OFFENSE
1. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke with the media on Tuesday ahead of the Eagles' Wild Card matchup in Chicago. While the Bears' defense gets most of the acclaim, Schwartz knows that the offense has plenty of firepower.
"A lot of different layers to it," Schwartz said. "There is obviously some Kansas City influence to it and also some Rams influence to it. There is a lot of sort of new-age offense to it, like zone reads and RPOs and using running backs as wide receivers, jet motion, all that different stuff. And some really good playmakers there.
"That's probably the biggest thing," he added. "We played them last year, a lot of the same players, a different scheme. So, there is probably not a lot of carryover when it comes to last year's game."
2. Bears running back Tarik Cohen is the team's second-leading rusher with 444 yards on 99 carries and three touchdowns. He is also the team's second-leading receiver with an additional 725 yards and five touchdowns on 71 receptions. Schwartz was asked how the Bears use Cohen in their offense:
"Yes," he said jokingly. "I mean, like literally they use him all over the place. Line him up in the backfield, line him up as a wide receiver, wide receiver motion into the backfield, in the back field motion out, jet sweep, inside runs, outside runs, deep passes, short passes. He's a really important part of their offense. We saw that a little bit last year. We knew how talented he was last year. He's in the same vein this year, and they're finding ways to get him the ball."
3. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been impressive in his second season under center. He has 3,223 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions with a completion percentage of 66.6 percent and a passer rating of 95.4. His ability to get the ball out quickly to his weapons has made the offense work.
"He's sort of a point guard out there moving the ball around to a lot of different guys," Schwartz said. "He does a really good job of executing what they're doing in their run game with all their layers of zone reads and RPOs. They run a lot of the different RPOs: three-by-one, two-by-two, slants, slant-flats, stick-outs, hitches, speed-outs. I mean, all of those.
"Just because it's a run doesn't mean it's not going to be a pass. He makes the right reads, puts the ball in good position. He's also a really good athlete and can extend plays. Throws really well on the run. All those things will be challenges for us."
4. Trubisky is also able to take off and run. He has 68 rushes this season for 421 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles have struggled getting mobile quarterbacks to the ground this season and Trubisky's ability to escape the pocket has been impressive.
"First of all, it's part of the run game, so I think that's the number one part," Schwartz said. "He's certainly capable of pulling the ball and running for yards and first downs and things like that. It just adds another dynamic to the passing game.
"We've seen it from so many different quarterbacks. If it's not there, he can create and start a new play. He can also make a big play down the field. I think we saw that a little bit from him last year. I know in that game we were having a really good run defense game in that game, and he had a scramble late in that game that sort of took them out of the negative yards.
"We saw him move around a bunch. That's part of what they do, and it's been working for them. We're going to have to do a good job keeping him contained, reading our keys, making sure we're playing responsibility when it comes to the zone read and the RPOs and those things because if you don't, he's a guy that can make you look bad."
5. Under first-year head coach Matt Nagy, who served as an assistant coach with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson in Philadelphia and Kansas City, the Bears' offense has taken flight with similar schemes to a few other NFL teams including the Eagles. But Schwartz emphasized that the Bears are their own team and offer unique challenges.
"They do a lot of things that are different. They're different. I say there is Kansas City influence there, but they're different than Kansas. You can't just like put that stamp on it. You can't just put our offensive stamp or anything anybody else does.
EAGLES OFFENSE vs. BEARS DEFENSE
1. It's a tall task to go against a defense that gives up the fewest yards per play, rushing yards per game, and points per game in the NFL. Chicago's defense has been dominant in the league this year and is a big reason for the Bears' 12-4 record.
Luckily, the Eagles have an experienced insider leading the way in gameplanning for the Bears. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh was the wide receivers coach in Chicago from 2013-15 and worked with Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio during his final season there.
"They have an excellent defense, as their reputation precedes them," Groh said. "Coach Fangio is as good a defensive coordinator as there is in the league. It will be a great challenge. I know our guys are excited about it. We're looking forward to the game."
Groh said he hasn't talked to Fangio this week but laughed as he mentioned that he thanked him for the win over Minnesota that helped get the Eagles into the playoffs. As he prepares to face off against him, Groh was asked just what makes Fangio's defense so effective.
"His attention to the detail obviously in his scheme," Groh said. "He does a lot of things, a lot of different things the way he utilizes his personnel, mixes things up. Does a good job week to week of not having tendencies or breaking tendencies. He's as good as there is.
"I think that we all evolve, and certainly he has different pieces to the puzzle that he didn't have when we were together, I guess almost three years ago now," Groh added. "So that's a long time in football. We just have to study what they're doing now, who they're doing it with, and try to put a really good plan together."
2. A game-wrecker for Chicago's defense is linebacker Khalil Mack. He finished tied for 12th in the NFL in sacks with 12.5 and tied for third in forced fumbles with six. His versatility along the defensive front makes him especially dangerous.
"Yeah, they'll move him around," Groh said. "He'll be on the right, be on the left, be inside. They'll do a lot of different things with him. Obviously, he's an elite pass rusher, which we faced a few of those guys this year. He certainly is excellent."
But the Eagles have two of the best offensive tackles in the league matching up. Left tackle Jason Peters and right tackle Lane Johnson have been able to shut down some of the league's premier pass rushers all season.
"Every team can't sit here and say that they have two bookend tackles like that," Groh said. "Those guys usually rise to the challenge. They look forward to these kinds of opportunities to play against the very best. They've had an opportunity to do that really here in the last month of the season, to play against some really, really good defensive ends, defensive tackles, so I know they'll be ready."
3. The Bears' secondary is as impressive as its ferocious front. Cornerback Kyle Fuller leads the league in pass deflections with 21 and the Bears gives up the fewest passing yards per play in the league with 5.29. There are very few holes in the solid unit.
"Well, they do a great job with their pattern match," Groh said. "They are on your concepts and they mix their coverages up, and they have good players. They have Kyle Fuller who is having a career year. I think he has seven interceptions or something like that, and these ballhawking safeties that they have. They've played together for a long time.
"That defense, Vic has been there for I think it's four years now, and the rest of the defensive coaches there have done an excellent job," he added. "There is continuity in scheme, and they've added some, really, really good football players. When you get that, it's a good combination."