Philadelphia Eagles - TeamReport
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - INSIDE SLANT
After a rocky start, the Philadelphia Eagles' secondary had been playing pretty well this season. Good enough to help the defense hold nine straight opponents to 21 points or less.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel torched the Eagles for 382 yards in a 48-30 win.
"It's definitely humbling," said cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who was targeted 10 times by Cassel and gave up eight receptions for 134 yards. "Guys were just not making the plays, myself included."
Now, the secondary goes from the frying pan to the fire Sunday when they face the Chicago Bears' explosive offense. And they may have to deal with quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall and the rest of the Bears' high-octane passing game without nickel corner Brandon Boykin (concussion) and backup safeties Kurt Coleman (hamstring) and Colt Anderson (knee).
None of the three injured defensive backs practiced Wednesday. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said that if Boykin can't go, he probably would use both backup cornerback Roc Carmichael and safety Patrick Chung at nickel.
Chung has started the last four games at safety in the absence of rookie Earl Wolff (knee). But Wolff is expected to play Sunday, though how much remains to be seen. If he can play, though, it would free up Chung to play some nickel, which he's done in the past.
The Eagles, who at 8-6 are a game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, must do a better job of defending the pass than they did against Cassel and the Vikings. They gave up four pass plays of 30-plus yards to the Vikings. Cassel, who is not to be confused with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, completed 74 percent of his attempts.
"We gave up too many big plays," Davis said. "We did not take care of keeping the big pass off of us like we had been. We only (generated) one turnover, where in the past, we had a couple more."
SERIES HISTORY: 39th regular-season meeting. Bears lead series, 28-9-1. The Bears have won four of the last five meetings, including a 30-24 win over the Eagles in their last meeting on November 7, 2011, in Philadelphia.
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - NOTES, QUOTES
--DeSean Jackson had a career-high 10 catches Sunday against the Vikings. But what people will remember most is his sideline confrontation with wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. Jackson was frustrated over an underthrown pass to him from quarterback Nick Foles and got into a shouting match with Bicknell.
"Sometimes players get emotional," quarterback Mike Vick, a close friend of Jackson's, said. "But you still have to control your emotions. If he had to do it all over again, he would certainly do it differently. There's nothing good that comes out of being on national television (and acting like that). You have young kids, your peers, watching you act a certain way. Because we are held to a higher standard. I'm not going to say it's never happened before. But I think DeSean learned a huge lesson from it."
--The Eagles have been one of the top teams in the league this season when it's come to converting short-yardage situations. But in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to the Vikings, NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy failed to convert a third-and-one, then failed again when head coach Chip Kelly decided to go for it on fourth-and-one from their own 23.
"I was so mad about not getting it," left tackle Jason Peters said. "It just came down to technique, hat placement. They loaded the box, but you know, one yard, it shouldn't matter what they do. We should be able to get it."
--Kelly was so afraid of Vikings kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson Sunday that he had his kicker, Alex Henery, intentionally kick all of his kickoffs short so that Patterson couldn't get his hands on one. From that standpoint, the strategy worked. But the short kicks enabled the Vikings to repeatedly start drives close to midfield. The Vikings' average starting field position was their own 39, which is the second best of any opponent the Eagles have faced this season.
"I just go out and kick the ball," Henery said when asked his opinion of the strategy. Henery has one of the lower touchback percentages in the league.
BY THE NUMBERS: 92 - The total number of snaps missed by the Eagles' five starting offensive linemen this season. None of them has missed a start.