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Monday, December 23, 2013
Five things we learned vs. Eagles

By Jeff Dickerson

PHILADELPHIA -- Here are five things we learned in the Chicago Bears’ 54-11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:

1. Offense picked a bad night to not show up: If the Eagle’s 54-point, 514-yard outburst came as a surprise, you haven’t been paying attention. The Bears’ defense has been bad virtually all year. But the offense is another story. The most disappointing aspect of Sunday night’s defeat is the Bears’ failure to move the ball against a Philadelphia defense that gave up 48 points to the Minnesota Vikings the week prior and was ranked No. 30 overall and No. 31 defending the pass. The Bears completely abandoned the run, struggled to protect the quarterback and completed only 56.4 percent of their pass attempts. That is the trifecta of ineptitude.

2. Season isn’t over: In the aftermath of what transpired at Lincoln Financial Field, it’s hard to paint an optimistic picture about the Bears’ division-deciding home game next week against the Green Bay Packers. But in the fluid world of the NFL, the Bears cannot be counted out. Remember, this Chicago team suffered a devastating overtime loss in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago and recovered to win its next two games. An NFC North title can happen. The Packers also are a flawed team. They dropped a home game Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The last I checked, the Bears beat those very same Steelers 40-23 back in September. And the Bears knocked off Green Bay when the teams met at Lambeau Field in November. There is no guarantee the Bears will clinch the division next Sunday, but it’s still a real possibility.

3. Cutler remains the guy: Marc Trestman extinguished the idea of the club re-installing Josh McCown as the starting quarterback in Week 17 when the head coach confirmed he is sticking with Jay Cutler for the Packers contest. Cutler did not have a great game in Philadelphia (73.8 quarterback rating), but the Bears had serious pass-protection issues. Cutler got drilled for much of the game. But even if Cutler had thrown four interceptions (he actually only tossed one INT, but it was a pick-six), the Bears have made their decision. Cutler is the guy. Now he’s going to have to accomplish something he’s failed to do for almost his entire career: beat Green Bay. A win on Sunday would certainly help satisfy the fan base and aid Cutler in his offseason contract negotiations with the Bears.

4. Foles is inspirational: Even if the Bears re-sign Cutler and McCown in the offseason, the organization will eventually have to draft a young quarterback. Best case scenario: The Bears find a sleeper in the mold of Philly’s Nick Foles (21-of-25 for 230 yards and two touchdowns), who has the ability to perfectly run Trestman’s offense. Foles is terrific. He makes great decisions and knows how to step up in the pocket. But here is the best thing about Foles: The Eagles drafted him in the third round (No. 88 overall). Players such as Foles and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, another former third-round draft pick, do exist in the middle rounds. The key is finding them. If the Bears can find a gem like Foles or Wilson a little later in one of the next two drafts, that would set up the organization for future success. And those players cost less money. Think of the salary cap savings when a team can start a young quarterback who is making around the league minimum.

5. Briggs is working to get in shape: Lance Briggs played more snaps than expected on Sunday night, but he definitely looked rusty after sitting out seven straight games due to a fractured shoulder. The final NFL stat book distributed in the press box listed Briggs with one assisted tackle for the entire game. Normally, Briggs makes about 10 tackles per game. The seven-time Pro Bowler seemed to be around the ball on certain plays, but he failed to finish in this game. The good news is that Briggs appeared to make it through the game without reinjuring himself. Make no mistake about it, the Bears’ defense badly needs Briggs to help slow down Green Bay rookie running back Eddie Lacy next week. Lacy is a powerful runner. When healthy, Briggs is the Bears’ best run stopper. The hope is that Briggs knocked off enough rust in Philadelphia to enable him to be a factor in Week 17. Another week of practice should also be beneficial.