The matchups look good on paper: Chicago with 6-6 Martellus Bennett, 6-4 Brandon Marshall, 6-3 Alshon Jeffery vs. a Philadelphia secondary that has three 6-footers and a 5-11 safety. But if there is a true weakness in a very good team that ranks Top 10 in rushing and passing average on offense and rushing average on defense, it is deep in the back end.
And nowhere are the 2013 Bears stronger than right where the Eagles are weakest.
Chicago's offense ranks No. 5 in passing yards per game and the Philadelphia ranks 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed. The Bears have four of the Top 41 players in receptions (Marshall 90, Jeffery 80, Matt Forte 66, Bennett 59).
It is ostensibly a tsunami capable of running over the Philadelphia offense the way LeSean McCoy is expected to do to the Bears run defense.
Coach Chip Kelly has specifically told cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams, “You need to be as close to your work as possible. You have two outstanding receivers that even when you are on them one-on-one, that still doesn’t mean they’re covered, because of their ability to go get the football.”
The Eagles were savaged by a seemingly pedestrian pass offense under Matt Cassel in last Sunday’s 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings
“We’ve got to do a better job in coverage,” Kelly said. “Obviously, we can do a better job of generating a pass rush and kind of disrupting the timing of some of their throws. And we’ve got to be closer in coverage.”
What to look for: Diversity. A quirk of the Chicago offense is that the Bears are 0-5 when Jeffery tops 100 receiving yards, including both of his 200-yard games. They are only 3-3 in games when he catches a touchdown pass.
They are 3-1 when Earl Bennett catches a touchdown pass and 5-3 when Marshall scores. The point is that using the weapons that GM Phil Emery has assembled makes the Bears very difficult to match up with.
“Their diversity, and I think Marc [Trestman’s] ability to use all the weapons he has at his disposal, and he has a lot of really good weapons,” Kelly said. “The fact they didn’t miss a beat when Jay went down and Josh stepped in, it’s a fun offense to watch. It’s not going to be a fun offense on Sunday to watch.”