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5 Questions with Bleeding Green Nation: Eagles still optimistic after disappointing start

We discuss Jordan Howard, Cody Parkey, and how this weekend’s match-up looks with Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Gowton

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills
Former Bear Jordan “Jo Ho” Howard is “arguably the only player on the Eagles exceeding expectations.”

The last two meetings between the Bears and the Eagles have been unfortunate affairs for our Beloved, and its hard to feel hopeful coming into this weekend given the Bears’ recent three-game apocalypse plummet losing streak.

Nevertheless, I reached out to our Eagles sister site “Bleeding Green Nation” for some questions regarding our respective teams and upcoming match-up.

1. Windy City Gridiron: The Eagles started the season with a solid-looking roster and high expectations. Things have gotten to a rocky start. Have Eagles fans managed to maintain hope that this season can be righted?

Bleeding Green Nation: Hopes were very low going into last week’s game; the Eagles actually had the NFL’s third least confident fan base by FanPulse standards.

A win over the Bills has Eagles fans feeling better. The season is still alive at 4-4 and there are reasons for optimism. The Eagles are getting some key players back from injury — such as DeSean Jackson — as soon as this weekend. And if the Eagles can beat a struggling Bears team, they’ll be 5-4 heading into their bye.

Looking down the line, the Eagles have a relatively easy schedule down the stretch. The Cowboys’ schedule is tougher on paper. The path to making the playoffs as NFC East champions is there.

Hope could easily dissipate if the Eagles fail to win this week. I know the same could be said for the 3-4 Bears. Important game for both sides.

2. Windy City Gridiron: Rank these Bears hand-me-downs: Jordan Howard, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Alshon Jeffery, Jim McMahon

Bleeding Green Nation:

1 - Alshon Jeffery

2 - Cre’Von LeBlanc

3 - Jordan Howard

4 - Jim McMahon

The Eagles don’t win Super Bowl LII without Alshon. He led the team in receiving touchdowns and finished second in receiving yards that year. Jeffery also showed up big in the playoffs with 12 receptions for 219 yards and there touchdowns, including an impressive leaping grab in the big game itself. Jeffery toughed out a shoulder injury that entire season as he helped the Eagles win a championship.

Big gap between No. 1 and the rest of the list. No. 2 and No. 3 are very close, though. I’ll currently rank Strap second because of how he helped stabilize the Eagles’ secondary as they went on a playoff run last season. He had that big pass breakup against his former team earlier the year. Howard could surpass Strap if he continues to run the way he has so far this season. Howard’s arguably the only player on the Eagles exceeding expectations. He’s been an important part of the offense thus far.

I was born in 1991 so I can’t tell you much about McMahon’s Eagles tenure. I now see he threw 13 TD to 13 INT for a 78.1 passer rating in 21 games played (12 starts). Not great. The only thing I organically remember about the McMahon era is my dad pointing out the house he used to own in Yardley, Pennsylvania (Bucks County).

3. Windy City Gridiron: What are you most confident about in the Eagles entering this matchup? Least?

Bleeding Green Nation: I’m most confident that Mitchell Trubisky could struggle against this Eagles defense. Philly’s pass rush struggled out of the gate this season but it’s been coming on in recent weeks. Fletcher Cox, who has two strip-sacks over the past two games, finally looking healthy again is a big development. The Eagles’ defensive line should be able to win against a Bears offensive line that ranks 20th in pass protection and 28th in run blocking by Pro Football Focus. Trubisky is already struggling to begin with and the Eagles should be able to contain him like they did with Josh Allen last week.

My least confident answer is conditional. If DeSean Jackson isn’t healthy enough to play, I’m not feeling so great about the Eagles’ wide receiver situation. And can you blame me? Look at these WR stats over the past five games.

Nelson Agholor: 285 snaps, 11 recs, 93 yards (8.5 average), 0 TD, 1 fumble

Alshon Jeffery: 282 snaps, 25 recs, 268 yards (10.7 average), 2 TD

Mack Hollins: 182 snaps, 1 recs, 13 yards, 0 TD

JJ Arcega-Whiteside: 29 snaps, 0 recs, 0 yards, 0 TD

Pretty terrible!

Getting Jackson back should — in theory, at least — open up the offense. His ability to stretch the field is critical because without him the Eagles employ one of the slowest, most plodding “attacks” in the NFL.

If Jackson DOES play, then I’m least confident about the Eagles being able to defend Allen Robinson. Even though I expect Trubisky to struggle, I still think he can have success throwing to his No. 1 wide receiver. Robinson had 10 receptions for 143 yards and one touchdown against the Eagles back in the playoffs. He could have another big day against this secondary.

Just look at what opposing receivers have put up against the Eagles this year:

Terry McLaurin: 5 recs, 125 yards, 1 TD

Julio Jones: 5 recs, 106 yards, 2 TD

Calvin Ridley: 8 recs, 105 yards, 1 TD

Marvin Jones: 6 recs, 101 yards, 1 TD

Davante Adams: 10 recs, 180 yards

Stefon Diggs: 7 recs, 167 yards, 3 TD

Amari Cooper: 5 recs, 106 yards

4. Windy City Gridiron: It’s been most of a year now and plenty of water has passed under the bridge since former-Eagle then-Bear Cody Parkey double-doinked the Eagles through the wild card round in the playoffs. Has it been long enough that you can finally admit he was a sleeper agent all along?

Bleeding Green Nation: I feel bad for Cody Parkey. I always liked him when he was with the Eagles. It was unfortunate that the groin injury he suffered derailed his career in Philly.

It’s also unfortunate that he’s been scapegoated for the Bears’ playoff loss. I mean, it was officially a blocked kick by Treyvon Hester!

Also, Parkey is probably still Chicago’s kicker if Ryan Pace drafts Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes instead of Trubisky. Right?

WCG: It’s hard not to notice that he didn’t deny it.

5. Windy City Gridiron: Who wins this game and why?

Maybe he’ll make me eat my words on Sunday but I’ve just never been a big Trubisky believer. He ranks 27th out of 33 quarterbacks this season in passer rating (81.4). Three of his five touchdown passes came against a 1-7 Washington team and the other two were in obvious garbage time against the Saints. I feel good about Carson Wentz being able to outperform him, especially if Jackson is back.

The Eagles being back at home for the first time since Week 5 is also significant. The Eagles are 22-7 at Lincoln Financial Field since the Wentz and Doug Pederson eras began in 2016. That’s tied for the second best home winning percentage in the NFL during that span, only behind the New England Patriots.

Chicago’s defense will keep this one close for a bit until the Eagles ultimately pull away. Final score: 27 to 17.

It’s nice to see that someone is keeping their hopes up this season. I’m sure it helps that the NFC East is looking a lot more winnable than the North. Best of luck to our feathered friends, and come Sunday, may the best Bear win.