As the Philadelphia Eagles go into their bye week, Sunday’s win against the Chicago Bears gives them something to build on as an extended home stand commences.
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
After starting toughest stretch of their season with a pair of blowout losses on the road, the Philadelphia Eagles will enter the team’s bye-week with a 5-4 record and a two-game winning streak following Sunday’s 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears.
Head coach Doug Pederson says he likes where his team is right now right and will be getting them ready for another stretch of key games at Lincoln Financial Field that includes the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, contenders in the NFC West.
“We knew we had a tough road schedule there, three games in a row,” Pederson said. “But we looked up, too and we said if we can weather that storm, we have three games here at home.Things are starting to come for us and we just have to trust our process and continue to grow.”
For just the second time this season, the Eagles jumped out to an early lead and held onto it. But in this case, “hanging on” was the operative phrase.
After jumping out to a 19-0 in the first three quarters on a pair of field goals by Jake Elliott, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz, and a 13-yard run by Jordan Howard, the Bears cut the lead to 19-14 with 12:43 left in the game.
But, that’s as close as the Bears would get as the Eagles closed the show on both sides of the ball.
First, on what turned out to be Chicago’s final possession of the game, the Eagles defense forced the Bears into a three and out and gave the offense the ball back with 8:39 left. From there, the Eagles took 8 minutes and 14 seconds to move from their own 11-yard-line to the Chicago 20. Elliott’s 38-yard field goal, his third of the day, sealed the much-needed win.
Meanwhile, the bye-week for the Eagles will be a time for healing up from nicks and bruises and getting ready for another a key stretch of the season. Quarterback Carson Wentz said the team has to be more efficient on third down. In Sunday’s win against the Bears, the team was 8-of-18 (44%) on third down conversions.
“We just have to be able to stay on the field,” Wentz said. “I think early in the game, we had a couple of third downs we didn’t execute. Late in the game, the third quarter, the same thing. We’ve got to be able to stay on the field. We want to be able to create some big plays again.”
Speaking of creating those big plays, the Eagles are hoping to have a healthy DeSean Jackson back. He played on the Eagles first possession and caught one pass for five yards before leaving the game with an abdominal injury.
With Jackson’s big-play presence missing from the Birds arsenal of weapons, the running game seems to be getting better with each game. As a team, the Eagles rushed for 146 yards with Jordan Howard leading the way with 82 yards and one touchdown. Last week against the Buffalo Bills, the Eagles rushed for 220 yards as a group.
“I definitely feel like we’re getting a groove in a pretty good groove with the running game,” Howard said. “The offensive line has been doing a great job all season, but they’ve taken it to another level. They are dominating guys and pushing them out of the way, making it easy for us.”
Despite giving up two second half touchdowns, the Eagles defense was outstanding against a weak Bears offense. For the game, the Birds defense held Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense to just 164 yards. In the first half, the Eagles defense held Chicago to a mere nine yards and no third down conversions on six attempts.
Of course, the Birds defense will have to build on that effort against Tom Brady and the Patriots—A task that will no doubt be easier said than done. But cornerback Jalen Mills said the defense is getting better, especially with the secondary getting healthy.
“We are getting there. We are definitely warming up,” Mills said. “Coming off this bye, everyone is going to rest their mind and rest their body and we’re going back and play the Patriots at top level.”
The Eagles and Patriots will kick off on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4pm and you can see the game on CBS-3.