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Eagles are wild, crazy guys on defense

Updated: December 19, 2013 9:58PM



There are countless ways to move the ball against the Eagles’ hair-on-fire defense.

“You kind of have to simplify what they do,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said Thursday at Halas Hall. “And sometimes you’ve got to fight crazy with crazy — and attack them a little bit.”

The Eagles are crazy — but not crazy-good.

Entering the game Sunday against the Bears, only two teams have allowed more than the Eagles’ 402.4 yards per game, and only one has allowed more than their 291.6 passing yards.

But the unit has forced 26 turnovers, tied for sixth-most in the NFL.

One way or the other, it seems the Eagles want to give the ball back to their offense

Bears left guard Matt Slauson called the 3-4 defense strange.

Defensive ends often rush up the field, the opposite of what 3-4 ends are taught. Sometimes they drop into coverage or stunt with linebackers.

Unlike most 3-4 defenses, the Eagles don’t always leave the guards uncovered.

“They move so much,” rookie right tackle Jordan Mills said. “They switch D-tackles. Put their defensive linemen in certain spots that are not ordinary.

“They never stay in the same look for more than a series.”

Because of the defense’s athleticism, Mills compared the Eagles to the Rams and Bengals, who held the Bears to 24 and 21 points, respectively. The Bears average 29.

“But you can’t compare them scheme-wise,” Mills said, “because nobody in the league schemes like them.”

The Eagles have kept opposing offenses under 21 points 11 times, second-best in the NFL. But the Broncos’ offense scored 38 against them. Last Sunday, the Vikings’ offense scored a ridiculous 48.

“They’re going to try to force turnovers,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “They’re going to do everything to confuse you.

“And so everybody has to follow their rules closely in the game and stick with their technique to have success.”

The front seven turns exotic on third downs, coach Marc Trestman said, while defensive backs play more unusual coverages on first and second.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to basically unlock their blitzes and try to get comfortable with the protections,” he said. “Because they look different on almost every third-down situation.”

Aggressiveness means the Bears will get beaten a few times in Philadelphia.

If history is any indication, they’ll do some beating, too.

“They’re gonna get you sometimes,” Mills said, “but it’s how you respond to that, that matters.”

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley



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