A great big ol' turkey-filled Thank You goes out to my guy JasonB from Bleeding Green Nation for taking the time to drop some knowledge on Bears fans about his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles. You da man Jason!
1- Fact or fiction? The Eagles wanted to protect their future QB in Kevin Kolb, so they kept Michael Vick as the starting QB because they knew their OL could not protect Kolb. How would you critique the OL, and what does the next 2-3 seasons look like at the QB position?
BGN: Fiction. You've seen the way Michael Vick has played. For once I actually believe Andy Reid's explanation for why he made the Vick the starter. It's not about the offensive line, he's just at a level right now where you can't take him off the field. He's got the highest QB rating in NFL, which was the case even before that monster game against the Redskins. At this point, I don't know how the Eagles don't extend him for the next few years.
The offensive line has been interesting this year. Before the bye week I'd say they were clearly below average. Tons of injuries, penalties ect. Since the bye week though, it's been a surprising turnaround. They've really done a great job. I'd have to think the truth is somewhere in between.
2- Jim Johnson certainly defined what the Philadelphia defense looked like, and one would think that it would be incredibly hard to replace the man that was the DC for the Eagles for so long. On the other hand, Sean McDermott had the priviledge of working under Johnson for so many years, and it would seem that him sliding into the DC role would be a natural transition. How has McDermott done so far, and what are the biggest differences in the defense that you have seen?
BGN: I don't know that there really are big differences. It's the same system. McDermott pretty much uses guys in similar positions to how Johnson did. I think generally the jury is still out on McDermott, but I do have give him credit for really turning this defense around. I thought they were pretty bad to start the season, but he's got them playing really well over the last several games. They've went from one of the worst run defenses in the league, to one of the top ranked in just a few weeks. They force a ton of turnovers... I'm not sure not they're going to be a "shut down" type defense this year, but they're opportunistic.
3- Can you tell us about the biggest strengths and weaknesses on both offense and defense for the Eagles this season?
BGN: On offense the biggest strength has been the QB position. Michael Vick is making a ton of plays, he's utilizing his weapons, he changes the way defenses play which opens things in the running game and takes pressure off the line. They haven't lost a game that he started and finished yet, so clearly he's been the main thing driving their offensive success. If I had to pick the biggest weakness I'd say it was the interior of the offensive line.
On defense, it's hard to point to any one thing or unit as their greatest strength, but overall I'd say it's just their ability to get turnovers. The biggest weakness I would say are the linebackers in coverage.
4- As a follow up to the strengths/weaknesses, what would be some key match-ups for us to look for this Sunday?
BGN: I'd say the two key matchups are whether the Bears can limit big plays from the Eagles WRs and whether the Eagles offensive line can handle the Bears pass rush.
5- The Eagles have some obvious star power on their roster, but who are a couple of players we may not know about that could influence the game for you guys against the Bears?
BGN: This week on my site I highlighted the year that Jeremy Maclin is having. DeSean Jackson is a great player and he gets all the headlines, but right now Maclin has more catches, more yards and more TDs.
On defense, DT Antonio Dixon has been a real revelation this year. His insertion into the starting lineup has coincided pretty directly with the Eagles dominance against the run. The guy is a rock in the middle and has really made things easier for the linebackers and everyone else on the line. Amazingly, that's a guy who bounced around before he came here.
Bonus question: Please rate on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the highest) the following phases of your team: Offense, Defense, Special Teams.
Offense - 9 - They're a half point behind the Patriots for the highest scoring offense in the league, so I really can't complain.
Defense - 6-7 - If I was grading how they're playing now it's a 7, if I included the whole year where they struggled early I'd say a 5 or 6.
Special Teams - 6 - A lot like the defense. They didn't do a great job in coverage early in the season, but have really improved as the season has went on.
Again, thanks goes out to Jason for doing this... we appreciate your time good sir!