Stats & Info: Earl Bennett

What challenges await new NFC coaches?

July, 25, 2013
Eight NFL teams welcome new head coaches to the sideline this season. We take a closer look at some of the challenges those coaches will face. Here’s a look at the NFC (the AFC can be found here.

Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Arians
2012 record: 5-11

Big addition: Carson Palmer has to be an improvement on the 21.4 Total QBR posted by Cardinals quarterbacks last season, worst in the league.

One headache: Has the offensive line improved enough? Adding Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford in the draft should help, but Arizona’s line allowed a sack every 11.7 dropbacks last season, worst in the NFL.

Key stat: The defense is ready to win now, finishing with the fourth-best Total QBR allowed last year (40.0). However, the offense cost the Cardinals 217.4 expected points last year, more than 100 points worse than the second-worst offense (Kansas City Chiefs, -107.94).

Chicago Bears: Marc Trestman
2012 record: 10-6

Big additions: Free-agent offensive linemen Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Eben Britton and first-round pick Kyle Long will help keep Jay Cutler upright. Cutler’s been sacked every 13.2 dropbacks in his Bears career (2009-12), most among 28 quarterbacks with 1,000 dropbacks in that span.

One headache: Can anyone take pressure off Brandon Marshall? There was a 140-target difference between Marshall (188 targets) and Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffrey last season (48 each), the second-biggest margin between a first and second target in the league.

Key stat: In the last five seasons, the Bears’ defense allowed 16 more touchdowns than interceptions with Brian Urlacher off the field and had 12 more interceptions than touchdowns with him on the field.

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly
2012 record: 4-12

Big addition: Cary Williams is the biggest addition in the secondary, after disrupting 24 dropbacks last year (interception, pass defensed or sack). Only Richard Sherman (26) had more among defensive backs.

One headache: Lane Johnson may not be enough to upgrade an Eagles offensive line that ranked last in sacks or tackles for loss allowed.

Key stat: Chip Kelly’s Oregon offense averaged a play every 20.9 seconds, which would have been easily the NFL’s most up-tempo offense (New England Patriots, 24.9 seconds per play). Oregon averaged 82.8 plays per game, well beyond New England’s NFL-most 74.4 per game.
In a game that both teams needed to win to keep pace in their respective divisions, it was the Chicago Bears that made the plays it needed in the fourth quarter.

Matt Forte
Chicago pulled out the tough road win despite uncharacteristic turnovers from star running back Matt Forte. Forte, who had not fumbled in 346 touches dating back to Week 7 last season, coughed it up twice. Both fumbles were recovered by the Philadelphia Eagles and led to 14 points.

Forte made up for those gaffes by rushing for 133 yards; the fourth time this season he's run for over 100 yards. Through eight games, Forte's 805 rush yards are the fifth-most by a Bears running back in the last 50 years. In that span, the only runners to post higher totals through eight games are Walter Payton and Gale Sayers.

Meanwhile, Jay Cutler made good decisions when facing added pressure, completing six of seven passes against five-or-more rushers. For just the second time since joining the Bears in 2009, Cutler was not sacked.

Cutler targeted former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett five times Monday. Bennett, who hadn't played since Week 2, caught all five passes for 95 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

The Eagles continue to struggle late in games. This season Philadelphia has outscored its opponents by 57 points in the first three quarters of games, but have been outscored by 36 in the fourth quarter. Monday marked the fourth time this season Philadelphia lost a game in which they held a fourth-quarter lead. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Eagles are the third team in NFL history to lose four such games within its first eight games of a season. The only other teams to do that were the 1954 Packers and the 1999 Saints.

One bright spot for the Eagles in the loss was LeSean McCoy, who scored a touchdown in his eighth straight game to start the season, tying an Eagles record held by Steve Van Buren. Only four other running backs since the merger have accomplished the feat - the last coming in 1999 when Emmitt Smith did it.

Michael Vick completed 21 of 38 passes for 213 yards and an interception - which occurred in the Red Zone. Vick's five Red Zone turnovers this season are the most in the NFL. Vick falls to 0-4 in his career against the Bears, his worst record against any team.

The Eagles fall to 3-5, tied for last in the NFC East and three games back of the New York Giants.