While the 2013 season isn't going the way the Redskins envisioned at 1-4, the team is somewhat better than their record indicates. They have played close games, losing by seven to the Lions and by six to the Eagles. While Robert Griffin III isn't playing at the same level of last season when he took the league by storm and helped cement the "read option" into common football phrases.
So far RGIII is completing 59.8 percent of his passes for 1,448 with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He's added 149 yards on the ground. His completion percentage is down but his pass yards per game are up, from 213.3 to 289.6. His rush yards are way down, his attempts per game have dropped from eight to 5.4 and his yards per game has dropped from 54.3 to 29.8.
RGIII's attempt to transform from a running, scrambling quarterback to more of a pocket passer is not holding the offense back. The Redskins rank fourth in the league in offensive yards per game, ahead of the Saints, Lions and Bears: fans know what happened to Chicago in those games. Both the pass and rush offense for the Redskins rank 10th.
For the Bears, their defense ranks 20th; 12th in rush defense (102 yards per game allowed) and 23rd in pass defense (271 yards per game allowed).
Therefore, when it comes to defending the Redskins Sunday I select Lance Briggs as the Bears' most important defensive player.
Briggs will be key because he will be tasked with making sure that rookie MLB Jon Bostic is lined up properly and knows the calls, plus Briggs must key in on the run game and help contain Alfred Morris and RGIII when he does get outside the pocket.
At this point in the season the Bears defensive line is a known commodity; it is disappointing. I would have selected Julius Peppers or Stephen Paea as the most important defender but Peppers has been lackluster all year and it's still not a sure thing that Paea will play. Because of this, it will be up to the blitzing linebackers to generate a pass rush Sunday.
Over the last four games the linebackers have three sacks to the line's two. Due to injuries and disappointing play along the line, it will likely continue to be up to the blitzing 'backers to get to opposing quarterbacks.
The other side of the ball is where the Redskins have struggled this year. The Redskins rank 27th in defense, allowing 395 yards per game; 24th in pass defense (271.6 yards per game) and 27th in rush defense (123.4 yards per game). The 'Skins are giving up 28.6 points per game (27th in the league, one spot ahead of the Bears who are surrendering 26.8).
While the numbers may say that this is another game to ride Matt Forte to victory, I am going with quarterback Jay Cutler as my most important offensive Bear. This is because I believe Cutler will want to avenge his last game against Redskins DB DeAngelo Hall. Cutler was asked about his four-interception outing against Washington in 2010 and he had no interest in talking about it.
I think he will want to let his play do the talking. Opposing quarterbacks have a 105 rating against Washington's secondary and with the Bears able to trot out Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett against the group, Marc Trestman has to like his chances to unleash his quarterback against his former coach and a past nemesis like Hall.
This game could easily turn into a shootout and the pass protection for Cutler will be key as Washington is tied for ninth in the league with 16 sacks.
If the Bears want to win they must get their best out of Briggs and Cutler.
Which Bears players are most important to you for the Bears to beat the Redskins?