Re-Focused – Bears @ Eagles, Week 9

| November 8, 2011

Monday Night Football was the occasion as the Bears picked up a big win to move to 5-3, enhancing their own playoff prospects at the expense of an Eagles side that dropped to 3-5 to re-enter desperation mode.

The game itself was a back and forth encounter with Philadelphia once again holding a lead into the fourth quarter only to see it squandered. Incredibly that marks the fourth time that has happened this year, thus representing one of the biggest reasons for their failures to date.

Credit to the Bears though, as they made the key plays in the clutch to pick up a much needed win that keeps them in the mix in an ultra competitive NFC. Come the end of the season it’s one victory that could prove crucial for both team.

Now let’s look at some of the key performers from this one.


Chicago – Three Performances of Note

Returning just in time

With a bye before their Monday night tilt, the Bears were able to get a couple of key players back in the form of tight end Kellen Davis (+3.4) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (+2.9). The former was sublime in the run game (+3.2), winning his battles on the toss and stretch plays which are such a staple of a Mike Mart offense. The Bears’ first two offensive plays mirrored a theme that lasted for the rest of the game with Davis sealing defensive end Jason Babin inside on both occasions springing Matt Forte. Additionally, while he was rather quiet in the receiving game (just one catch on three targets), Davis was perfect on the six times he stayed in to pass protect. Meanwhile Bennett seemed to add new life to the Chicago passing attack. In all Bennett hauled in all five targets for 95 yards and a touchdown leading to a +2.9 grade through the air. The highlight was probably his touchdown catch which came with 12:22 to go in the fourth quarter on a fade route. QB Jay Cutler put nice touch on the ball and Bennett went up to get it over Asante Samuel. His return could be huge going forward.

 

Stability at tackle

Without good performances from left tackle J’Marcus Webb (+2.4) and right tackle Lance Louis (+0.4) the Bears most likely would have lost. A bold statement but there is a correlation between poor tackle play and losses for the Bears. As already mentioned, Chicago generates most of its rushing yardage on plays off tackle and that was the case again on Monday night. Overall 19 carries outside left and right tackle generated 120 yards. In contrast they generated just 44 yards on 14 carries up the middle. Webb had a solid day on the ground, grading positively on three occasions and negatively just once while generally sealing the Philly defensive tackles effectively.  Louis was a little more inconsistent but still above average (+0.3). He was also at his best when taking on defensive tackles as shown by his block on Trevor Laws with 5:35 to go in the third that opened a huge hole for Marion Barber, helping the Bears out of the shadow of their own goal line. Both men were also impressive in pass protection with Webb particularly so. Despite going up against one of the league’s best pass rushers in Trent Cole, Webb held his own, conceding just the solitary pressure on 36 drop backs. Across from him Louis won his battle with another good pass rusher in Jason Babin, conceding just one pressure himself.

 

Struggling safeties

If the Bears thought they had settled on a duo of Major Wright (-1.5) and Chris Conte (-2.7) they may well be wrong. Second year man Wright needs to play close to the line of scrimmage to be effective but even then he was exposed in coverage (-1.1). He showed a general lack of zone awareness when covering Brent Celek in the first quarter resulting in a first down on third and short, and was also beaten in man coverage by Lesean McCoy on the opening play of the second half in the redzone.  Only adding to a poor display was the pass interference penalty he gave up again when trying to cover Celek down the seam. His safety partner Chris Conte was poor against both the run and pass. In the ground game he missed a tackle on McCoy when playing centerfield and was unable to get off a Jason Peters block on McCoy’s 34 yard touchdown which gave the Eagles the lead. He wasn’t much better against the pass, breaking too late on a deep out by Jeremy Maclin and post by Brent Celek. Overall he allowed all three targets to be complete for 60 yards.

 

Philadelphia – Three Performances of Note

Rolle-ing along

Rookie sixth round pick Brian Rolle (+2.4, 57 snaps) continues to play well. Despite the added pressure placed on linebackers in Jim Washburn’s wide nine scheme, Rolle has performed best against the run with Monday night probably his best performance to date. He was active all game, finishing with four tackles (three stops), two assists and a couple of nice highlights to add to his young career. The first came with 6:31 to go in the first where he disengaged from an offensive linemen and brought Forte down for no gain, while the second happened with 3:59 to go in the same period where he stood up Roberto Garza and again was able to make the stop. He wasn’t perfect (he was beaten by Roy Williams for a first down on a slant with 2.46 to go in the third) but he’s the default star of this linebacker unit.

 

Living up to the potential

When the Eagles acquired Jason Peters they knew there was a chance he could turn into a special player. He deserved much of the criticism he received on his departure from Buffalo but he’s slowly improved since moving to Philadelphia. After a great performance against the Cowboys, Peters followed it up with another against Julius Peppers and the Bears. It wasn’t quite on the same level but Peters (+3.9) is starting to build the consistency that all tackles covet. He was again perfect in pass protection which takes him up to eighth in our Pass Blocking Efficiency rankings at 96.2. In the run game he was solid if not spectacular, with his the aforementioned block on McCoy’s touchdown the play he’ll be most pleased with

 

Offseason additions struggling

Both Nnamdi Asomugha (-3.0) and Dominique Rodgers- Cromartie (-2.9) are really struggling. We though the former might have turned a corner with two solid performances back to back but the former Raider dispelled that notion against the Bears. There was confusion between the two on numerous plays as receivers were left wide open. Asomugha allowed two of four passes to be complete for 48 yards and a pass deflection, while a Dane Sanzenbacher drop on 2-10 with 1:51 to go in the first half made those numbers look better than they had any right to. A further worry for Eagles’ fans is Asomugha’s continued tendency to miss tackles. He whiffed on Earl Bennett after Rodgers-Cromartie allowed a completion on the first third down of the game. That play at 12:31 in the first quarter summed up Rodgers-Cromartie’s day. He was a step behind on every almost every target, allowing three of four passes to be complete for 56 yards. We agree with him that’s he a better player than his play would suggest right now, because right now, his play stinks.

 

Game notes

- Jay Cutler wasn’t knocked down once while Michael Vick hit the deck seven times

- Vick had five passes dropped by his receivers

- Bear defenders combined for four pass deflections and three batted passes

 

PFF Game ball

Earl Bennett was the difference maker in this game. Five catches against the Eagles’ “All Star” cornerback trio. Four of them first downs, three of those third down conversions and the small matter of the game winning score.

 

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  • bears0492

    At times, this grading seems inherently unfair. Take Chris Conte for example – his -2.7 grade was the result of some bad plays in run coverage, but also not stopping passes that he wasn’t supposed to stop. When you have your safeties lining up almost 20 yards back behinds the LOS as the Bears did, I think it’s pretty obvious that their job is to stop the deep throws (which Conte did).

    Say Maclin fakes the deep out, does a nice double move and goes deep…. now instead of being in position to stop it for a medium gain, Maclin may score a touchdown if Conte were trying to stop the shorter passes. Essentially, Conte is stuck in a lose/lose situation based on your grading unless he makes a great play.

    Just a thought.

  • ItsJustWerner

    Corey Graham proved yet again with a forced fumble why he is the Bears’ and NFC’s best special teamer and pro bowl bouned.