February 6, 2023

It’s not always easy — 10 observations from Eagles-Bears a day later

Photo by Daniel Bartel/USA TODAY Sports

It was a tough one on Sunday afternoon for the Eagles in Chicago against the Bears. Not only was it the coldest and windiest game some of these guys have ever played in, but there were a few things not going the way they should have.

But, at the end of the day, a win is a win is a win.

Here are 10 observations after the 13th win of the season:

  1. Wins are not always going to be unchallenging, they’re not always going to be pleasing, they don’t always go the way one would expect, and sometimes you just have to hold your breath for three hours. That was what went down Sunday, and not just for the Eagles, in maybe every single game this weekend. It’s why we love the NFL so much and why it drives us crazy. Remember, the Eagles have won a lot of ugly games this year. Do not forget when they almost blew a 17-point lead in Detroit, or when they were tied with the Texans midway through the third quarter, or when they trailed the Colts by 10 points going into the fourth quarter. Sunday was a little too close for comfort, but the Eagles are now 6-0 in one-possession games and they’re 13-1 overall, and that’s all that matters. Something I do want to say about the Texans is they hang around with the top teams. They took the Chiefs into overtime on Sunday and were leading the majority of the game. Also, they forced the Cowboys to beat them in the final seconds in walk-off fashion in Dallas. Never bet against Houston, because you never know.
  2. That Eagles defensive-line, my goodness. What a dominant performance by them. They now own 55 sacks this year and 19 in the last three games. That is crazy, especially considering the Eagles ranked second-to-last in sacks in all of the NFL last season with just 29. The Bears could have ran the ball every snap if possible, but when they got into third-and-longs and were forced to pass. It was no contest between the Eagles’ pass rushers and the Bears’ brutal offensive-line. The Bears only threw 22 times but the Eagles still recorded six sacks. Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave each two sacks apiece on Sunday. With that, Reddick now has 12, Hargrave 10, Sweat 9 1/2, and Brandon Graham 8 1/2. This defensive line has been dominant lately, and Sunday was no different.
  3. Jalen Hurts did not put up any crazy stats. He did not throw any touchdowns, and he struggled early, but he did what the greats do, and that is shrugged it off and made plays to help his team win the game. Hurts getting the MVP award is completely up in the air, but he is a winner and he showed why once again Sunday. He took a beating, he threw two bad interceptions early, he struggled at times, and he completed less than 60% of his passes when nearly every play he passed, yet the scoreboard still reads another Eagles victory. Hurts overcame mistakes, a horrid start, and the coldest and windiest game he has ever played in and directed the Eagles past the Bears.
  4. These are the games where you have to appreciate the quarterback. The last couple of wins came easily. The Eagles were due for this type of game. The Eagles needed every spec of Hurts’ pixie dust. Whether it was his three rushing touchdowns, his 164 passing yards after halftime, his huge third-down conversions down the stretch, his two-point conversion, or his big throws to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Hurts picked up the team and carried them to their fifth straight victory under some very difficult circumstances. The stats, yeah, are not the most attractive. But, the performance was stunning.
  5. Two years ago, the Eagles’ receivers were Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, and Jalen Reagor. Now, look who they have, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, who may be the greatest wide receiver duo in Eagles history. Brown is now over 1,200 yards, Smith is over 900, and both of them were incredible Sunday, making tough and physical catches when the Eagles really needed them. Brown caught nine passes for a career-high 181 yards and Smith had the second-most yards of his career with his incredible 5 catches for 126 yards. These two are so clutch and so consistently great. The chemistry they have with Hurts is truly there where he believes he can get them the ball any time he wants. And he usually does.
  6. Hurts took an absolute beating, and there is nothing more important than getting him past Dallas week and into the postseason healthy. There was a moment in the game where he was slow to get up after being hit hard. It was a little terrifying to watch. Hurts is such a weapon running the ball, and it is difficult to balance how much to use his legs and when to stop. Shane Steichen called too many plays that put Hurts at risk, I feel. Sometimes hits are unavoidable, but whatever the breakdown between called runs and improvised plays, it was too much. You must keep the franchise quarterback safe, at all costs.
  7. The Eagles believed they had mismatches with their receivers against the Bears’ cornerbacks, but on a cold, windy day, a lot of deep shots to open the game did not make sense. 1,000+ yard running back Miles Sanders is available against the NFL’s 27th-ranked run defense, and considering the conditions, that seemed to be the mismatch the Eagles should have been trying to take advantage of. The Eagles ran 18 plays before any other running back got a carry, there was 6:41 remaining in the first half, and by then Hurts already threw a few bad interceptions. The expectation was for the Eagles to come out and rush it down the Bears’ throats, and I was surprised they didn’t. Steichen has been terrific this year, but Sunday was a bad day for the Eagles’ play caller.
  8. The Eagles’ special teams have gotten quite the upgrade with Boston Scott returning the kicks. On top of his 66-yarder last week in the victory over the Giants, he added a 58-yarder Sunday to open the second half and set up Hurts’ second rushing TD. Scott doesn’t play a whole lot anymore, but he remains a very valuable guy to have around, and the little guy always finds a way to make big plays no matter what role he is in. I just do not understand why the Eagles waited so long to put him back there.
  9. The Cowboys lost to the Jaguars Sunday in overtime, and it was awesome. Former head coach Doug Pederson is still helping out the Birds. Dak Prescott, with 7:02 left in OT, threw a short pass to Noah Brown, which tipped off of him, and into the hands of Rayshawn Jenkins, who took it 52 yards to the house for the victory. Prescott now owns the highest interception percentage in the NFL. But, let us be honest here, it doesn’t matter. The Eagles are getting the number one seed no matter what happened with the Cowboys in Jacksonville or on Christmas Eve. Of course, it is still a big game, but it is not a huge deal for the Eagles. The Cowboys are still the Cowboys. They are not a threat to the Eagles.
  10. Even with that loss, however, the Cowboys are in the playoffs with the Commanders losing to the Giants on Sunday Night Football. If things stay how they are, the Eagles can possibly host Dallas for the NFC Divisional Round on January 21 or 22. But, I will say it again, the Cowboys are not a threat to the Eagles.

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