Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins: Five keys

Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins: Five keys

Unless they succumb to the pressure from Bob Costas, a team called the Washington Redskins will face the Chicago Bears on Sunday, fresh off their 31-16 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night. The Bears, meanwhile, haven’t played since Thursday night.

The Bears had a very efficient game against a winless Giants team, taking the ball away and not committing any turnovers.

While the ‘Skins dominated most of the stats vs. Dallas, they came up short where it counts. But as the Giants comeback showed, the Bears aren’t in position to take any team lightly.

So let’s get to the keys to the game.

Both run defenses will be tested

RB Alfred Morris and RGIII combined for 158 yards rushing on 25 carries/scrambles Sunday night, good for a 6.3 average. And after watching Brandon Jacobs dismantle the Bears’ D-line for 106 yards on Thursday, this is cause for concern.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Bears have the second-worst run defense in the league (behind only Jacksonville).

As for the Bears’ running game, after increasing his rushing average in each of his first three games of the season, Matt Forte’s average has declined in consecutive weeks. Still, I would like to see more of a commitment to the run, as Forte has carried the ball a touch over 16 times per game so far.

After a rough start, the Redskins have done a decent job of stopping the run over their last three games. Forte has had much better success in four games vs. NFC opponents this season than against the AFC.

More ‘Good Jay’, please

Even though I called for more of a running game, the Redskins are the worst team in the NFL in pass coverage, so if the line continues to give Cutler protection, the Bears’ QB could have a good day.

‘Good Jay, Bad Jay’ has only reared its head once this season (Week-4). His completion percentage is up and his picks are down.

He has been more willing to throw the ball away when necessary and running when no one is open. He has already thrown it away seven times this season vs. five for all of 2012.

Pass protection continues to be key for Cutler. As with most QBs, he’s performed much better when comfortable in the pocket (RGIII is somewhat unique in that he hasn’t fared much differently — pressure or no pressure — likely due to his escapability).

Only 92 of Cutler’s drop-backs have been under pressure vs. 144 with no pressure. While this is not as good a ratio as Washington, it is better than in past years. Washington is middle-of-the-pack with their pass rush, though clearly superior to the Bears’ pass rush.

Takeaways

Griffin fumbled twice, losing one, and also tossed an interception against the Cowboys. Now they face a Bears team that is one of the best at forcing turnovers, taking the ball away 17 times and forcing another five fumbles. In comparison, Washington’s defense has forced just five fumbles (recovering four) and has only three picks.

Defensive changes

Another key to the game will be the play of rookie Jon Bostic. While he got the fans’ attention in preseason with some big hits, he made typical rookie mistakes. In fact, enough mistakes that the Bears went with D.J. Williams to start the season, even though he was out of shape.

While Williams generally played well, there is a lot of upside to Bostic. Unfortunately, that upside can came with an early cost. Personally, I’m amped about the future of this kid and looking forward to watching him, though fans should expect some growing pains.

Meanwhile, another key will be if Stephen Paea can return and contribute. That would be very helpful for a thin DT position. Bears coaches are optimistic that both Charles Tillman, who was inactive against the Giants, and Paea will play on Sunday.

Intangibles

  • Although the Bears’ special teams unit has taken a formidable step backward under Joe DeCamillis, the Redskins’ ST have been the worst in the league.
  • While Cutler has often performed better as the game has gone on, Griffin got worse in each quarter vs. Dallas.
  • Cutler faces his old coach in Mike Shanahan, who is coaching the Redskins now. Shanahan has been criticized for his clock management and accused of not having his team ready to play.
  • The Bears’ coaching staff has had more time to prepare for this game, having played on Thursday while the Redskins played on Sunday night. The players have had more time to get rested as well. That could be a factor.

All statistics courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com

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