John Crist: Michael Vick's passer rating was usually in the 70s when he was with the Falcons, with his accuracy in particular pretty suspect. A west-coast offense typically wants a high-percentage passer from the pocket, so how and why has he done so well in Philadelphia?
Adam Caplan: Vick has thrown quite well when being asked to throw from the pocket because he's been way more patient this time around. In fact, his patience back there has been one of the most underrated facets of his game. For the first time in his career, he has shown the ability to create functional space to throw the ball.
Because he has shorter than ideal height (barely 6-feet), Vick has a problem at times seeing over the front four of the defense. That forces him to move around to create space to throw the ball. He was never really an instinctive quarterback with the Falcons, but the Eagles coaches have done a really nice job of working with him to lose his bad habits.
JC: Andy Reid's offense always seemed to be operating at its best back when Brian Westbrook was healthy and being a dual threat out of the backfield. This is the second year for LeSean McCoy, and while his numbers are pretty good, can he do everything Westbrook could?
AC: McCoy does not possess the speed of a healthy Westbrook, but the second-year back is very instinctive. He's a very good fit for Philadelphia's one-cut zone-running scheme and has shown to have the innate ability to know when to cut back – see the two big runs against the New York Giants last week.
McCoy has shown to be very versatile, which is essential in Philadelphia's offensive scheme. However, the one area where he needs to improve is with ball security. He does a poor job of securing the ball and is too loose with it.
JC: Because the Bears are playing a ton of Cover 2 again this season, they may have a D that can slow down DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Can Vick and Co. work the ball down the field consistently on 10- and 12-play drives, or do they lean too heavily on big plays?
AC: What you have to understand is Vick's arm strength has been so strong that he has thrown over double teams and two-deep looks. He did that in the last Washington game two weeks ago. That's how strong his arm is, even at this point in his career.
However, in the Cover 2, there are voids in the 20-yard area. We could see more slants called than usual by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and you could see the screen game dialed up a bit more since LB Brian Urlacher drops into coverage as the "hole" player down the field.
JC: Philadelphia appears to be all or nothing in terms of its pass defense. While the Eagles lead the NFL with 19 interceptions, they have surrendered 18 touchdowns. The Bears have 15 INTs against only six TDs allowed. Is this more a product of the scheme or the players playing in it?
AC: The one area where the Eagles have really struggled is with their red-zone defense. Their lack of size on the back end has really hurt them. Teams simply have had their way against the four starters, but the linebackers have also not covered well in that area.
The Eagles have struggled a bit on covering the deep passing game, too. However, they have improved a bit in that area in recent weeks. I would expect Greg Olsen to be heavily involved in this matchup since the Eagles really don't cover tight ends well.
JC: Since the Bears have one of the more suspect offensive lines in the NFL, even if it has played better in recent weeks, it only makes sense that Sean McDermott will blitz early and often at Soldier Field. Has this defense been as blitz-happy as it once was under the late Jim Johnson?
AC: They definitely blitz a lot. In fact, McDermott has become one of the better defensive coordinators at disguising his blitzes. Whether it's right up the middle or overloading one side, McDermott has done a really nice job of keeping the opposing offense at bay until right before the snap.
Because Chicago's offensive line has been so porous this year, I'd expect the Eagles to blitz in order to take advantage of the three changes that have been made as the season has progressed.
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Behind Enemy Lines: Part I
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