(All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) vs. Chicago Bears (0-1)
8:30pm ET Monday on ESPN
Is there any reason to think the Bears can win this thing? The one factor they have in their favor is homefield advantage, but last year Chicago went 1-7 at Soldier Field, QB Jay Cutler is on pace to be sacked an NFL record 80 times, and their best offensive weapon from 2015 is now leading the league in rushing for the Jets. The Eagles, meanwhile have the hot QB on the rise (not named Jimmy Garoppolo), and are coming off a Week 1 blowout win.
How good was Carson Wentz’s NFL debut against the Browns? Well, he got a shoutout from President Obama, so that’s something. In his NFL debut, Wentz completed 22 of 37 for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns, though he was sacked twice and made a pair of fumbles, recovering just one. Still and all, the Eagles did what they should’ve done to a team as bad as the Browns, dusting them 29-10. Wentz was the #2 pick overall out of North Dakota in June draft, and just a couple of weeks ago was 3rd on the Eagles’ depth chart at QB, but moved up a spot when Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota, and then hopped over journeyman backup Chase Daniels when doctors determined that his rib injury was sufficiently healed.
Wentz will be without tight end Zach Ertz, who last week against Cleveland suffered a rib displacement. Against the Browns, Ertz caught 6 of 7 passes thrown his way for 9.7 yards and four 1st downs, including a 5-yard pass over the middle to convert on 4th-and-4 to set up a touchdown midway through the 3rd quarter. With Ertz out, All-Pro punt returner Darren Sproles should see more action, after gaining just 12 yards on 5 carries, and another 24 yards on 2 catches last week. Wentz’s primary target against the Browns was Jordan Matthews, who pulled in 7 passes for 114 yards and a TD. Philly’s D did a nice job of containing Robert Griffin III holding him to 190 yards on 12 of 26 passing, and 37 yards on 5 carries, while intercepting him once and sacking him 3 times, and limiting Cleveland’s time of possession to just 20:40 – that said, they did give up the fifth-most points in the league last year.
Cutler was shoved through the wood chipper that is the Houston Texans defense last week, coming out the other side with 216 yards on 16-of-29 passing, 1 TD, 1 interception, 5 sacks and 2 fumbles, though he did recover both, on a day when reigning Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt was far from 100% following preseason back surgery. At 33, Cutler’s past his prime, and the Bears must surely be looking for a future QB – maybe they should let backup Connor Shaw celebrate his 25th birthday today by taking a few snap, because why not?
The Bears have high hopes for receiver Kevin White, who last week made his pro debut after sitting out 2015 with a broken leg. But White’s gonna have to spend a little more time with his playbook, as at one point he ran the wrong route, leading to an interception for which Cutler very diplomaticlly took the blame, saying after the game, “It left my hands and it’s my responsibility.“
Second-year running back Jeremy Langford was called upon go to fill the shoes of Matt Forte, who took his talents to New Jersey this past off-season. Langford carried the ball 17 times, gaining just 57 yards, and scoring a touchdown. The Bears are gonna need a lot more than that out of Langford.
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