The Eagles will count outlasting the Bears a good win, even with Mitch Trubisky’s struggles at the helm in Chicago. There’s a force blowing against him right now in the Windy City, and none of the criticism appears unwarranted after Sunday’s showing. Undoubtedly there are some positives to take from back-to-back wins, but I do feel Doug Pederson allowed a struggling team to hang around instead of going for the jugular, playing somewhat conservatively when the Eagles led by two scores. The defense was equally charitable at times in the second half, busting another coverage for a long pass completion, and allowing the Bears to run a throwback Bill Cowher early-century i-formation offense to get themselves back into the game. Still, a dominant ground game could carry the team to a very merry Christmas.
The Eagles’ passing game continues to stutter, with Alshon Jeffery’s surprising struggles catching the football exacerbating the impact of Desean Jackson’s injury. Jeffery’s dropped more passes in nine games this year than in the rest of his career combined. There were some positives from the playsheet, with good use of bunch formations to get in an early rhythm on offense. The coaching staff like to call a combination of three verticals, curls and trail. The releases all look the same, but attack different parts of the field, both vertically and horizontally. Mack Hollins’ lack of production has been well documented. Doug Pederson has to rotate in someone in their 11 personnel formations.
The offense functions much more efficiently in 12 personnel, with both Ertz and Goedert on the field. It was nice to see the former feature more heavily in the gameplan, including on one play in the second quarter which was designed to replicate the HB-wheel we’ve seen be so effective in recent games. Instead of two verticals, one behind the other, threatening the deep sideline, both routes cut horizontally, threatening the middle of the field. The post/angle route combination payed off for a big third down conversion for the Eagles.e
The running game was primarily successful from shotgun, with a combination of same-side power (almost exclusively to the right) and outside zone tearing the Bears apart. The coaching staff do a good job playing to their linemans’ strengths. Seumalo doesn’t have the athleticism to make reach blocks or cutoff linebackers at the second level, but he’s more than competent around the line of scrimmage.
Not a ton of excitement on the defensive side. The safeties – Malcolm Jenkins on this occasion – bust another centrefield coverage. The difficulty the defense is having running cover-3 at an even functional level is hugely alarming. Blitzing was much more effective, but there’s not much diversity in the pre-snap look when Jim Schwartz goes to cover 0, and Mitch Trubisky is about as decisive as a fallen tree when confronted with oncoming headlights. There was one nice design from the Eagles defensive coordinator. He seems comfortable taking risks on 2nd downs than switching up the coverage options in key down situations. With half-time winding down, Schwartz went to a disguised inverted cover-2, dropping the pre-snap MOF defender down to cover the seams, while using the corners to pickup the deep halves. There will be bigger tests to come post the bye.