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Three Keys Against The Eagles: Defense

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1) Which Weapons Are Prioritized?

The Eagles offense is loaded with prolific weapons in both the passing game and the running game. As I posed in this week's PTMY, or this week JCGAFY (watch your mouth), if the Bears play against the big play by keeping the safeties back, that opens stuff up underneath for breakout running back Shady McCoy and tight end Brent Celek, and if the linebackers and/or safeties play up to stop the run, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are both fast enough to break big plays off behind the Bears' inexperienced safeties.

What's made the Bears' run defense so strong in recent years was intelligent play and the pure speed and athleticism at the linebacker position, filling gaps and making sure tackles. The linebacker position is shallower this year than in recent years, and Urlacher and Briggs are getting older, but both are still playing at a high level - and with the Bears playing much better against the run lately (granted, against inferior competition), I like their chances a little more than usual to keep the run game from beating them. Safety play has been quite respectable the last couple weeks as well, but this might well be the biggest test resident wonderboy Chris Conte will see since his insertion into the lineup.

2) Don't Let The Big Play Win.

The credo behind the Lovie defense has always been to make the opponent work for each point put on the board. Granted that during the Eagles' minor winning streak the big play hasn't had to have been there, allowing big plays at critical times has been what's cost the Bears most during their losses (See: Devery Henderson, Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson). Seems fair enough to say if you're letting teams put seven points on the board in under two minutes with regularity, there stands a very good chance you'll lose the game, especially when that offense is built like what the late Al Davis dreamed of building in Madden - Michael Vick plus speed, speed and more speed.

3) Contain and/or Sack Michael Vick

Ah, yes, we can't forget about him and how effective the Bears have been against him and his teams in his career. Sure, he's never beaten the Bears as a starter, but I'm sure he's looking to change that around. Will Urlacher continue to mark him as he has through his career, or will the linemen including Julius Peppers show up against a Philly offensive line that allows some decent pressure? Vick may not run as often anymore, but he's still a threat when he gets going. Flush him out, keep him moving behind the line of scrimmage, and when he's in grasp, finish the play and take him down.