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August 22, 2014, 7:44 am

Eagles shift focus to Bears

When the Philadelphia Eagles return to the field against the Chicago Bears next week, they will be carrying a lot of momentum into what should be a huge matchup. The Eagles are coming off a very impressive 34-7 victory against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night.

They will be back in prime time against the Bears in their Monday Night Football contest on ESPN Nov. 7 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles (3-4) are on a two-game winning streak and in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East with the Washington Redskins and the Cowboys. The New York Giants lead the division.

The Bears (4-3) are in third place in the NFC North. They trail the Green Bay Packers (7-0) and the Detroit Lions (6-2) respectively. A year ago, the Eagles dropped a 31-26 decision to the Bears on the road.

Right now, it appears they are heading in the right direction following a horrible 1-4 start. They can point to a number of reasons for their turnaround. However, running back LeSean McCoy has been a big factor in their recent surge. McCoy has been nothing short of fantastic.

On Sunday McCoy had career highs in carries (30) and rushing yards (185.) He also scored two touchdowns. He currently has a career-high eight rushing TDs this season. McCoy has scored in every game. He has 135 carries for 754 yards, averaging 5.6 yards a carry. The former University of Pittsburgh standout also has 23 receptions for 135 yards out of the backfield.

He’s second in the NFL in rushing. He’s right behind Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings running back, who has a league-leading 798 yards on the ground. Andy Reid, Eagles’ head coach, knows the man they call “Shady” is one of the best running backs in the NFL.

“Right now, he’s playing as well as any running back there is,” Reid said. “That is a compliment to him and the guys blocking around him. LeSean is tough to bring down one-on-one. He has tremendous quickness and lateral mobility.”

McCoy has opened up the Eagles offense with his running and pass-catching talents. Michael Vick, Eagles’ quarterback, has noticed the difference.

“He makes it a lot easier,” Vick said. “My job is a totally different instinct than what he has to do. Just handing the ball off to him and the things that he does, he does them very well. He’s able to create space and make guys miss and it definitely makes our job as an offense easier.”

The Eagles have a number of weapons on offense. Vick has completed 144 of 228 passes for 1,852 yards with 11 TDs and eight interceptions. He has 52 carries for 422 yards and five rushing TDs. The wide receivers have been solid with Jeremy Maclin (40 receptions for 543 yards and four TDs), Jason Avant (31 receptions for 412 yards) and DeSean Jackson (27 catches for 487 yards and two TDs).

But the focus could be on the running game when the Eagles and Bears hook up. Both teams have done a terrific job running the football. Matt Forte is the Bears’ leading rusher. He has played extremely well. He has 124 attempts for 672 yards and two TDs. He averages 5.4 yards a carry. Forte also has 38 receptions for 419 yards.

Forte is a major player for Chicago. His role is similar to McCoy’s with the Eagles. He runs very well between the tackles and can turn the corner with his speed. His production has allowed Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler to flourish. Cutler has completed 137 of 232 for 1,702 yards and nine touchdowns. His major targets are wide receivers Devin Hester (21 receptions for 308 yards and one TD), Johnny Knox (19 receptions for 348 yards) and Dane Sanzenbacher (19 receptions for 172 yards and three TDs).

With all that, Forte remains the key to the Bears’ success. He is the team’s leading rusher and receiver.

The Eagles-Bears game will feature two of the league’s best running backs. It should be quite a battle with McCoy and Forte showcasing their skills.


Contact Tribune staff writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .