Eagles QB Michael Vick has never beaten the Bears as a starting QB (he threw one pass in an Eagles victory in 2009 as a back-up), but he's also facing a defense this coming Monday that doesn't have the same pop it's had over the last few years. How well can the Bears stack up against an up-and-down Eagles team? I sat down with Bleeding Green Nation's JasonB for some insight.
1- We always like to hear about other teams' front offices, especially considering so many Bears fans are in a constant uproar about our own. The Eagles have Jefferie Lurie (owner), Joe Banner (President), Howie Roseman (the youngest GM in the league), and Andy Reid (HC). Even though Reid supposedly has all the power when it comes to football things, how does the dynamic between everyone work? What do Eagles fans think of their team's management?
JasonB: Honestly no one knows. And I'm being serious about that. Roseman and Banner both do contracts and we've heard both being involved in trades. Andy Reid is the guy with the title that gives him final say and he appears to be the guy on draft day doing a lot of the wheeling and dealing... I know he was also basically the guy who decided to bring in Michael Vick. It does seem like Andy is not very involved when it comes to actual contract negotiation.
But really, it's never really clear who exactly is doing what. They would tell you that they all work as a team and all decisions are always a happy consensus. I doubt that, but they've never even given a hint that there's any dissension, so who knows?
Jeff Lurie just sits back and lets those guys handle everything, he's a very hands off owner as far as personnel stuff goes.
2- The Eagles have a Who's Who of the NFL roster, with tons of big names in the limelight each week. But, who are some players that fly below the radar that make a significant impact on the team?
JasonB: The guy I'd say is RT Todd Herremans. For years, he's been a very underrated LG here, but he was moved out tackle this season (which most have felt is his natural position anyway) and has really flourished. Both in the run and pass game he's probably been the Eagles best offensive lineman. And since Vick is a lefty, he's got the job of protecting the blindside, so he's been playing at a high level at a premium position, but you don't hear a lot about him.
3- The defense hit a tough stretch there from Weeks 2- 5, giving up nearly 30 points per game (all four losses), but have bounced back in the last couple weeks, giving up a combined total of only 20 (13 vs Washington and 7 vs Dallas). Which Eagles defense is more-likely to show up for the rest of the season?
JasonB: Well the honest answer is that your guess is as good as mine... but we've definitely seen encouraging signs. The tackling was a major issue over the first few weeks, but has really improved. They've started to use Nnamdi Asomugha in better (and simpler) ways which has really led to him becoming a major factor in the last two games.
They've also made some scheme adjustments. A lot was made of the Eagles "wide 9" formation that teams like the Titans and Lions use and how it was susceptible to the run. It was generating tons of sacks, but the team was getting burnt on the ground. Now, you'll see them play a much tighter formation on running downs, while deploying the wide 9 to go after the QB on more passing downs.
But obviously, fans here need to see them do it consistently before we can trust the D.
4- On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have some guys who can hit homeruns every time they touch the ball (Vick, McCoy, Maclin, Jackson), and they can come in some very unconventional ways. What are your thoughts on this current offense, and do you think it can perform consistently enough to make a push for the playoffs?
JasonB: Well we've seen a real change from last year to this. Last season, the offense really was built to make big plays and depended on them. This year that really hasn't been the case. First and foremost, the running game is now what drives the offense and Michael Vick has started to look to the center of the field more and has become very good at working the short passing game.
For instance, last Sunday night we say the Cowboys playing their safeties very deep to take away the big pass. Last season the Eagles struggled with that. This year, Vick just carved them up with intermediate routes and LeSean McCoy had a field day. So, I think that change to not relying on the big pass has been really one for the positive.
5- If there is one thing that consistently makes you grin from ear to ear, and be proud to be an Eagles fan, what would that be? What is something that happens that makes you constantly pull out your hair?
JasonB: I like our fans. I'm sure this is the case for every fanbase, but I just love being a part of the community of Eagles fans. At the same time, I'd say the criticism fans here get is annoying. I think it's mostly just lazy repetition of stereotypes and rehashing of ancient history. I mean, the snowballs at Santa thing happened in the early 70s...
Bonus: Michael Vick versus Jay Cutler... Who would you rather have as your QB for the next five years?
JasonB: Well, age isn't a huge factor, but Cutler is a couple years younger. But otherwise I'd say Vick. Both guys have big arms, both can trow the ball accurately, but obviously the element that Vick brings with his legs changes the way teams have to think when playing you.
And the most amazing and frankly unexpected thing for me about Vick is how much the players on this team look up to him. They revere the guy. He's only 30, but guys like McCoy, Jackson & Maclin idolized him growing up. Even the young defensive players do. Any player that comes to the team mentions first and foremost how excited they are to play with Michael Vick. So, the way the team rallies around him is pretty amazing.
And it's really not just the Eagles players. Guys around the NFL really like him. We all remember Cowboys RB Tashard Choice getting an autograph from him after a game... Giants Osi Umenyiora said he admired the Eagles for signing him... In fact, your old pal Chris Harris actually wrote a post defending after him after he had a bad preseason game. The respect for him amongst players is really unbelievable.