By Zach Gershman, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
Coming off of an impressive Week 1 performance against the Cleveland Browns, the Philadelphia Eagles will head to the "Windy City" for a Week 2 matchup against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
The Chicago Bears are led by quarterback Jay Cutler, who has been under center for the Bears since 2009. Cutler is known for being a quarterback with happy feet, quick to move out of the pocket and has an aversion to being hit. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will need to bring consistent pressure to keep Cutler frantic and not allow him time to find star receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Schwartz is familiar with Cutler having coached against him as the Detroit Lions head coach between 2009 and 2013. Although Schwartz did not have a winning record against the Bears during his tenure with the Lions, he has to know that if you put pressure on Cutler, he becomes a different quarterback.
In last week’s game against the Houston Texans, Cutler was hit 13 times by the Texans defense and was pressured on nearly 40 percent on his throws. Cutler threw for 216 yards last week with one touchdown, one interception and two fumbles. His completion percentage was a very pedestrian 55 percent and QB rating was 76.2 percent.
The key this week is to maintain consistent pressure on Cutler. The Eagles have arguably the best front-seven in the NFL. The defensive line is anchored by Fletcher Cox. Cox, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection last year, signed a new contract this past offseason and must show that he can live up to the big dollar contract. Defensive ends Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin will also need to step up again and prevent Cutler from showing his capability to throw down field.
The big three recorded nine tackles and three sacks last week. When you add fifth year veteran linebacker Nigel Bradham’s five tackles from last week, the four combined for 37 percent of the tackles on defense.
The Bears have struggled as of late at Soldier Field, going 3-13 since 2014, but make no mistake about it, the Eagles will have their hands full with a much better Chicago Bears team than what they faced against the Browns.
It's Monday Night Football, and the entire nation is watching. The Bears have the slightly favorable odds, but if the Fog Bowl is any indication, nothing is predictable in the Windy City.