LAKE FOREST – No matter what he does for the rest of his career in the National Football League, he’ll always have a place in the history of Philadelphia sports.
When you pull off a trick play in the only Super Bowl victory in the history of the city’s pro football franchise, there will always be a place for that player in team lore.
Before the end of the first half of Super Bowl LII against the Patriots, then Eagles tight end Trey Burton completed the now-famous “Philly Special” play with a touchdown pass to Nick Foles.
It was a key moment in Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over the Patriots that brought home the first championship for the Eagles in the Super Bowl era.
So when Burton returns for the first time as a member of the Bears on Sunday, there will be some feelings for the tight end who returns to a place he spent his first three years as a player in the NFL.
“I’m excited,” said Burton of his return to Philadelphia. “I’m excited to return to the ‘Linc’ (Lincoln Financial Field) and see some of my family in Philly.”
Facing the Eagles is an opportunity that Burton didn’t get last season when the Bears faced his old team in the playoffs in Chicago. A groin injury crept up in the days leading up to the game and left the tight end inactive for his new team’s 16-15 loss to his old team on January 6th.
Despite the fact that he was a bit part of the Eagles’ biggest win in team history, Burton doesn’t expect a lot of love from the notoriously unforgiving Philadelphia fans when he returns with an opposing team.
“They didn’t cheer for Santa, so I doubt they’ll cheer for me,” said Burton.
MEMORIES FROM JANUARY 6TH
While Burton didn’t play in that Wild Card game at Soldier Field, a number of his teammates did, and the pain of that defeat was a big part of the Bears’ offseason motivation.
The one-point loss to the Eagles brought an abrupt end to what was an incredible breakout season for Matt Nagy’s first Bears’ team. Cody Parkey’s “double-doink” field goal miss at the end was brought up countless times to the team both in meetings and the media before the season.
Now the Bears face the Eagles for the first time since that now-infamous moment nearly ten months ago. Does that play a factor in the motivation for Sunday’s game?
“You can’t be emotional in the game of football,” said outside linebacker Khalil Mack when asked if there would be emotion facing Philadelphia for the first time since the playoff game. “You can’t really react on emotion. There’s a lot of different things that if you react to it could possibly get your thrown out of the game dependent on what it is. You’ve just got to be smart.”
This year’s Eagles team won’t have Nick Foles at the helm of the offense since he’s in Jacksonville with Carson Wentz fully healthy. Their journey hasn’t been much different from the Bears as the team has dealt with a start below their expectations.
In what was a must-win eighth game of the season, the Eagles went on the road and beat then 5-1 Buffalo 31-13 to improve to 4-4. So last year’s game for Mack can only be a small map to guiding the Bears to success against their opponent this weekend.
“You look at the film, you look at what they wanted to do and just take that and use it this week,” said Mack.
SPEAKING OF FAMILIAR FACES
Not only will Sunday be a chance for the Bears to see the team that ended their 2018 season, but it will also be the first time they’ll face Jordan Howard on an opposing team.
After spending his first three seasons with the Bears, the running back was traded to the Eagles in the offseason since it was perceived that he didn’t fit well into Matt Nagy’s offense.
Twice a thousand-yard rusher in Chicago, Howard as carved out his own niche in Philadelphia this season. The running back has 443 yards on 100 carries with five rushing touchdowns in the first eight games of the season. That includes a season-high 93 yards on 23 carries in the win over Buffalo on Sunday.
“Jordan does what Jordan does,” said defensive end Bilal Nichols when asked about what he’s seen from Howard’s play this season. “He’s a tough-nosed back who is not scared of contact, I think we all know that. That’s what makes him great. He’s not scared to lower his shoulder; actually, that’s all he wants to do, and he’s great in pass protection.
“He’s just doing what he’s been doing his whole career from what I’m seeing on film.”
A LOOK AT A DIFFERENT FILM
Mitchell Trubisky was one of those looking at game tape of the 17-16 loss to the Chargers from this past Sunday, but it wasn’t the one he was used to.
On a suggestion from Nagy, the quarterback looked at the broadcast version of the game in order to evaluate his body language. The coach believed that it could use some improvement, both in the good and the bad times, as Trubisky looks ahead to the final nine games of the 2019 season.
Once he watched that film, admittedly with the sound off, the quarterback was a bit surprised.
“It was weird watching it because I didn’t I really didn’t feel like it was me. I kinda seemed like a shell of myself,” said Trubisky after watching the broadcast version of the game. “I’m gonna get back to really leading the way I know how.”
So what was it that stood out to the quarterback?
“It was mostly just, like, a guy who looked super serious and kinda tense and that’s really not me,” said Trubisky. “Especially when you’re going out on the field and playing the game you love, you should be out there having fun which I usually am. I’m not showing that.
“So I think I can portray that in different ways, especially that my teammates can feed off of.”
STAT OF THE WEEK: 7
The number of games into the season that Trubisky will once again face the Eagles.
In 2017, the quarterback faced the team in Philadelphia in his seventh-career NFL game. Trubisky was 17-of-33 passing for 147 yards with two interceptions in a 31-3 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.