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Opposing Gab – Interview with

In preparation for a huge match-up with the Bears, I was able to speak with Bears Gab columnist Jeff Fisher. We discussed both of the teams quarterbacks, where each team will have an advantage come Sunday, and Jeff ends by giving us his final prediction on the game. Enjoy!

EaglesGab: As a Bears fan, tell us about the play of Jay Cutler this season. Do you have confidence in Cutler as he tries to lead the Bears to the playoffs?

BearsGab: I’m still a big Cutler fan. Besides his 4-INT game vs. the Washington DeAngelo Halls, Cutler’s been solid behind a below-average offensive line. I think Bears fans are starting to see an evolution of Cutler the last couple of weeks. When passing plays weren’t there against Buffalo and Miami, Jay’s tucked the ball and ran for some big first downs. 2009 Jay would’ve tried to force some throws that weren’t there. I think we’re always going to scratch our heads at some of his throws into double- or even triple-coverage, but his good outweighs his bad.

EG: The Bears have always been a team built on defense and this season doesn’t look like an exception. At this point of the year, who is the Bears defensive MVP?

BG: There’s no doubt the offseason additions of Julius Peppers and Chris Harris have been key to the Bears defensive resurgence. But I think if you asked the Bears defenders, they’d point to one guy – Brian Urlacher. Without Urlacher last year, the defense ranked closer to the bottom than the top. This year, they’re 1st in points allowed, 2nd in 3rd-down conversion % and 1st in take-aways. Urlacher’s the unquestioned leader of the team and he gets people in the right spots.

EG: What has been the biggest contributing factor for the Bears three losses this season?

BG: Cutler single-handily lost us the Washington game (4 picks to Hall, including a 92-yarder for a TD). But in the other two losses vs. Seattle and NYG, the offensive line allowed 16 total sacks. O-line coach Mike Tice has been shuffling bodies across the line most of the season. But we’ve had the same line-up the last couple of weeks and things seem to be getting better. You know it’s bad when Bears fans are satisfied with only allowing the opponent 3 sacks, which we did vs. the Dolphins last week.

EG: The Eagles rank third in rushing offense and the Bears rank second in rushing defense. Who wins the battle on Sunday?

BG: I think the Bears will prevail, due partially to our ability to stop the run all season and partially to Andy Reid’s affinity for the pass. The Bears have done a good job containing the two best backs they’ve faced this year in AP and Ahmad Bradshaw. I think they’ll be able to keep McCoy in check, which could cause Marty “What’s his nuts” to rely heavily on the pass. Obviously, Vick brings another dimension the Bears haven’t faced, but I think our D has the right mix of linemen and LBs to keep him contained.

EG: If you were drawing up the defensive game plan for the Bears, how would you try to stop Michael Vick?

BG: This may sound a tad arrogant, but I don’t think the Bears should do anything drastic to stop Vick. I think Lovie should trust his 4-3 defensive scheme, which is always predicated on his front 4 a) stopping the run and b) getting pressure on the QB. Peppers allows us to do that. While his sack total is not mind-blowing – 5 through 10 games – he draws attention that allows others to make plays (see DE Izzy Idonije’s 6 sacks). The Bears’ athletic, Pro Bowl LBs – Urlacher and Briggs – will help keep tabs on Vick. I don’t think they should assign a ‘spy’ to #7 because he has too many other playmakers at his disposal that could exploit our D.

EG: On Sunday, where will the Bears have an advantage on offense? On defense?

BG: On offense, I think the Bears can beat Philly’s blitzing D with quick hits to talented receivers like Olsen (TE), Hester and Knox. Cutler could also hurt the Eagles with his legs. I don’t know much about the Eagles O-line, but Peppers always demands extra attention that could free up other Bear defenders to make plays.

EG: Where will the Eagles have an advantage on offense? On defense?

BG: If Vick gets time to throw, the Bears’ DBs will be hard-pressed to keep up with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Our corners – Tillman and Jennings, are solid, physical guys. Our free safety Harris, isn’t the most athletic guy either, but he’s usually in the right spot. I can only think of one big pass play the Bears have allowed this year (Favre to Harvin for about 50 yards). But I could see the Eagles hitting a big one on Sunday. On defense, I think Trent Cole and Co. will put a lot of pressure on our O-line…and that’s without a lot of blitzing from other Eagles!

EG: What player could be a potential x-factor for the Bears on Sunday?

BG: I’ll give you two – WR Earl Bennett and Devin Hester. Bennett’s stats or athletic ability won’t jump out at you, but he’s sure handed and makes those tough 3rd-and-7 catches that keep drives alive. After two quiet years in the return game, Hester’s back to his old self. He’s always held punt return duties, but over the last couple of weeks he’s been returning kicks too. Even if he doesn’t get a big return, he affects field position by forcing kickers to keep the ball away from him.

EG: Give me a score prediction.

BG: I think this will be one destined for replay next week on the NFL Network. I think our D, special teams and home-field advantage will be just enough to offset the Vick factor. Bears 20-17 in OT.

Michael Vick vs. Bears

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2 Responses to “Opposing Gab – Interview with”

  1. […] Check out the interview here, then let us know which players you think we’ll be talking about (good or bad) on Monday. […]

  2. […] Check out the interview here, then let us know which players you think we’ll be talking about (good or bad) on Monday. […]

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