No home-field advantage for Bears vs. Eagles?

No home-field advantage for Bears vs. Eagles?

Friday, Nov. 26, 2010
6:20 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Home field advantage. An interesting and sometimes misleading factor in athletic contests, including the Bears for 2010.

The Bears are within a last-second officials ruling vs. the Detroit Lions of being at risk of a sub-.500 home record to this point of the season. They have not finished below .500 in Soldier Field since Lovie Smiths first year (2004) and have the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and New York Jets remaining on the home portion of their schedule.

This is not good news. The Eagles are 4-1 on the road; the Patriots are 4-2; and the Jets are 5-0.

The mid-week rains and a high-school game wont improve the sometimes-fragile state of Soldier Field turf. Both the Eagles and Bears have real speed on the offensive edges, Philadelphia with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Bears with Devin Hester and Johnny Knox.

But as to whom a slower track favors, Do you want to talk to a defensive guy or an offensive guy, coach Lovie Smith said. Thats pretty much how it goes. Im not going to say it favors either one. You could say it favors the offense because the receivers know where they are going to cut and defensive players dont.

On the other side of the ball, its easier to take the ball away in conditions like that. I dont know if it favors either one. Both teams are going to play on the same surface.

If any conditions contribute to turnovers, whether in the form of poor footing for a quarterback, running back or receiver, the game will feature the NFLs two best at taking balls away. The Eagles are No. 1 with 26 takeaways in 2010 (19 of them interceptions) and the Bears No. 2 with 25.

Sick leave?

Philadelphia has three defensive starters listed as questionable, two of them linemen in Antonio Dixon and end Juqua Parker, neither of whom practiced Friday. Also, All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel, leading the NFL in interceptions with seven, did not practice all week because of a hip injury and is likely to be replaced by No. 3 corner Joselio Hanson.

The Bears have zero players on their week-end injury report and while the injuries on defense may force the Eagles to make some adjustments, the injury situation does not affect the Bears planning.

It really doesnt, Lovie Smith assured. Theyll have someone out there. We know Asante has missed a couple days but we assume hell be out there and ready to go. Thats how we plan.

Hurtin D

Those injuries to the Philadelphia defense could in fact limit the effectiveness of one of the NFLs consistently solid units. Parker is No. 2 on the Eagles with five sacks and Dixon at 322 pounds has been the linchpin of the Philadelphia run defense holding opponents to just 74 rushing yards per game over the last six.

Because the Eagles have 10 players with at least one sack, it is more than evident that they do a great job of attacking your protections and making you accountable for everybody, said offensive coordinator Mike Martz. A lot of guys will blitz and with the formations sometimes that we do, you spring a guy free.

Its hard to do against these guys. Theyre very, very responsible when they blitz. They understand what theyre doing and the ramifications and where the guys are moving to. They dont make mistakes.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.

Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

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Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

In the latest Bears Talk Podcast, Jim Miller joins Pat Boyle to discuss the friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio. And are there changes in store for the Bears coordinators?

Plus, Brian Urlacher and Mark Schanowski break down the play of rookie Leonard Floyd and find out which one of Urlacher’s former teammates Floyd reminds him of.

And don't miss a preview of Sunday’s NFC North clash with the Lions, who will be out for revenge.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: