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What to watch for on MNF: Eagles-Bears

Tonight, the Carson Wentz Experience takes its act to the national stage.

When the Eagles clash with the Chicago Bears on *Monday Night Football*, fans will be handed a full-fledged look at the rookie quarterback who Philadelphia hand-picked as their passer of the future.

Wentz showed promise in a season-opening 29-10 win over the Browns, but the No. 2 overall pick faces a stiffer test on the road in what should be a lathered-up Soldier Field.

Here's what we'll be watching for:

  1. While Cleveland's front office didn't believe Wentz was "good enough to be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL," the Eagles comfortably mortgaged a rash of future draft picks for the right to acquire the former North Dakota State star. "Physically, he reminds me a little bit of a combination of Andrew Luck -- though, I've never played with him -- just watching him play, but a guy that I did play with in Jim Kelly -- the size, strength and just the toughness," Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said last week. At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Wentz undoubtedly boasts the big-bodied frame that NFL coaches adore with a strong arm to boot. He also showed poise in the opener, guiding the Eagles to 403 total yards of real estate for an offense that owned the ball for nearly 40 minutes. Wentz threw a pair of pretty touchdown passes against Cleveland and certainly made Browns fans question their team's decision to pass him up in the draft, but the rookie also has his detractors. The Browns unwisely chit-chatted about Wentz's slow delivery before the opener, but the Eagles feel like it's something they can work on.

"We've worked on his feet, we've worked on a little bit of the upper body mechanics, we don't feel like it's a slow release," coach Doug Pederson said earlier this month. "It can be long at times because he's such a long guy. It can be Colin Kaepernick-long at times. But anticipation, throwing the ball on time, can help that process, get the ball out of his hand fast."

Time will tell on Wentz -- the first North Dakota State quarterback with an NFL touchdown pass since Ernie Wheeler dialed up a score for the flame-throwing Pittsburgh Pirates back in 1939 -- but Monday night should provide an interesting test for a young player who brings plenty of exciting traits to the position.

  1. It's fair to say that quarterback Jay Cutler struggles to generate equal excitement among Bears fans. I asked our Chicago-based correspondent, Kevin Patra, for a from-the-streets take on where the metropolis stands with Cutler heading into Monday night's banger:

"After years of bitterness towards Cutler, most of the local electorate in the Windy City don't even deem the enigmatic quarterback worth the bluster," Patra said. "Apathy reigns throughout the city with most fans understanding exactly what Cutler is: an NFL starter that won't take you far. They also know he's not long for the job, so many fans have bundled up their emotions toward the quarterback and braced for weathering the Cutler-storm for another winter."

Wildly bleak and fully real. The Bears have stuck by Cutler through years of ups and downs largely because there's a bona fide shortage of quarterbacks in the NFL. After playing some of his cleanest football under former coordinator Adam Gase last season, the veteran passer was a story of two halves in Week 1, throwing for 156 yards and a touchdown against the Texans over the first two quarters before dialing up just 60 yards and a pick the rest of the way. It's insane to ponder that current play-caller Dowell Loggains is serving as Cutler's seventh coordinator in 11 NFL seasons. Patra's assessment is on point: This a veteran signal-caller who coaches adore more than fans ever will -- and a player the city is running out of patience with. It's on Cutler to generate a big-time win at home on national TV.

  1. That won't be easy against a rather nasty Eagles defense now under the tutelage of Jim Schwartz. The unit is led by phenomenal tackle Fletcher Cox, who got off to a fine start with four solo tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and two hits on the quarterback against the Browns. Cox last season joined Houston's J.J. Watt and Oakland's Khalil Mack as the only players with 70-plus tackles and nine-plus sacks. How the Bears' up-and-down offensive line deals with this free-flowing trench-monster will go a long way toward determining Chicago's fate. Still, we did see the Eagles, give up a handful of big plays downfield through the air in Week 1, leaving Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery as a glowing X-factor on Monday night. The strong-handed, long receiver went off against the Texans, dialing up four catches for 105 yards in the first half before Chicago took a dirt nap after the break. Tonight also offers the chance to see second-year receiver Kevin White, who hauled in three passes last week in his first NFL game after missing all last season with injuries.
  1. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio quietly sits out there as one of the finest play-callers league-wide. Chicago's roster can't match the uber-talented lineup he coached as Jim Harbaugh's coordinator in San Francisco, but the Bears have a rash of intriguing pieces on this side of the ball. First-round pass rusher Leonard Floyd played well in the opener with a half sack and quarterback hit. The Bears also have a fine duo of inside linebackers in Jerrell Freeman and former Broncos standout Danny Trevathan, but the concern is a secondary that allowed Texans rookie Will Fuller to dance downfield for big yardage last week. Wentz will try the same with Jordan Matthews, who led the Eagles in targets against Cleveland, while running back Ryan Mathews should see a bundle of carries against the Bears.
  1. If you're a human who enjoys a nice drink or two with your football, fellow Around The NFL scribe Conor Orr offers this suggestion for tonight's bout: "For those looking to enjoy the game in style, I would recommend at least one bottle of Tokyo* by BrewDog. This self-proclaimed Intergalactic Stout comes in at 18.20% ABV, which is more than double your standard boozy craft beers available today. Tokyo* is packed with flavor and would make a powerful complement to a red meat dish for dinner."
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