Sunday, noon on FOX. The Bears are 4-2, yet it feels like the wheels are starting to come off. Do the Bears have a seasoned, NASCAR pit crew able to get those wheels fixed and this offense on track? Or are we dealing with the in-town mechanic who says "he'll take a look". The Redskins are 3-3, with wins over the Cowboys, Packers, and Eagles. The have a nice offense but on defense they give up a ton of yards. Next week is the Bears bye week, so going into it at 5-2 will answer a lot of questions about this teams' future. A loss will lead to two weeks of gnashing teeth and bad Morrissey articles.
298: Number of passing yards the Redskins give up per game (31st ranked).
35%: Redskins 3rd down defense stop percentage (9th ranked).
18%: Bears 3rd down offense conversion percentage (32nd ranked).
27: Number of sacks allowed by the Bears' offensive line (32nd ranked).
5: Number of sacks the Redskins' Brian Orakpo has this season already...uh-oh.
DOUBTFUL: Roberto Garza - knee ; Zack Bowman - sprained foot
OUT: Clinton Portis - detached groin OUCH!!!!
QUESTIONABLE: Chris Cooley - concussion (he did practice on Friday)
When Washington Has the Ball:
Donovan McNabb has thrown for 1,561 yards and 5 TDs, but he only has a 58% completion percentage and has thrown 5 picks. Even though Clinton Portis is out, Ryan Torain has a 4.2 yards per carry and 3 rushing touchdowns. On the season, the Redskins have passed 215 times and run the ball 137 times. That's a Martzesque 38/62 split. Considering the Bears are much more stout vs. the run than the pass, look for the Redskins to pass the ball a lot. After watching Charles Tillman get torched all day last week, they probably think they can move the ball through the air. The Bears did not get to Hasselbeck last week either. One more reason for the Redskins to throw more than run.
The Bears defense needs to put pressure on McNabb and keep him contained. He's not as fast as he used to be, but he can still spot the 1st down marker and move the chains by using his feet. McNabb has 92 rushing yards on the season. For the 2nd week in a row, a rookie left tackle will start against the Bears: Trent Williams. Will he have as much success vs. Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije as Okung did last week? I hope not, or Charles Tillman will see Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong light him up.
McNabb loves the long ball. Nique did an extensive write-up on the Redskins' vertical game vs. our secondary. Check it out here.
Key Matchup: Charles Tillman vs. Santana Moss or Anthony Armstrong. Unlike Mike Williams, who is bigger than Tillman, these two are shorter, faster, shiftier type WRs. Moss, at 37 receptions, is tied for 4th in the entire NFL in catches. He's McNabb's main target and will see a lot of passes thrown his way, even more so if Cooley (concussion) doesn't play or is limited.
X-Factor: Ryan Torain is an unheralded, tough runner. At 6-1, 212 lbs he will be hard to bring down. Last week, Marshawn Lynch made a lot of Bears' tacklers look bad. Wrap 'em up guys.
When Chicago Has the Ball:
How about some balance this week? Mike Martz's offense, the offensive line play, and Cutler's decision making have been discussed a lot this week. All three of these components need to come together for the Bears to beat the Redskins. Even though Washington has one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, a balanced attack will go a long way to keeping Jay upright and giving these offensive linemen some confidence.
Can we get the TEs involved too? For the entire season, the TEs are averaging only 2.8 catches for 32.7 yards per game. That's the Martz of old. Where is the new Martz that actually utilizes his TEs?
ZERO for 12 on 3rd downs last week. It's been a long time since Cutler has converted a 3rd down. This simply needs to be corrected. If the Bears start 0 for 3 or 4 on 3rd downs, the boo-birds will come out. They absolutely must convert a 3rd down on their first or 2nd possession or I foresee a rough start snow-balling into a very rough game.
Key Matchup: Whoever is blocking Brian Orakpo. He's got 5 sacks this season. He's good, our o-line is not.
X-Factor: Devin "You are ridiculous" Hester of course. He's got his mojo back for sure. The Redskins do not have a very good punt coverage team. Will they kick to Devin?
The prodigal son returns: