Anybody else ready to completely put the Denver Debacle to rest for the rest of the season? Yeah, me too.
It was the first preseason game, the first actual full game conditions the Bears have had to practice with this season, and there's an offseason's worth of rust to continue to knock off. Mix in four missing starters and a couple other players ineffective, and you get last week's performance.
But on Saturday night, things will change - Rex Grossman comes back to Chicago! Oh, and some guy that goes by RG3, whatever that means. Heard he was drafted pretty highly, so he must be pretty good.
Last Year: Started out hot, winning three of their first four games, before making all the wrong adjustments and finishing 2-10 after the bye week. Finished at 5-11, good for last place in the NFC East.
This Year: Well, so far, they're 1-0 in preseason, which doesn't tell you anything - particularly when they won that contest by a score of 7-6, against the Buffalo Bills.
When Last We Met: Back in 2010, Jay Cutler took some heavy fire for this game as he was picked off four times by DeAngelo Hall alone, en route to the team coughing up six total turnovers and losing 17-14 way back in week 7. The Bears went on to finish that season going 7-2 after the bye week and advancing to the NFC Championship Game. The Redskins continued to do what they've done best the last three years - lose football games, as after the Bears game the team went 2-7 to finish at 6-10.
Offense: The big addition is the number two pick overall in the draft, Robert Griffin III. His arrival means that for the first time since the departure of Jason Campbell after the 2009 season, the team doesn't have to rely on a quarterback acquired for a late-round pick (Donovan McNabb), a wildly inconsistent quarterback that probably couldn't be incentivized enough to throw an accurate short pass (Rex Grossman) or a guy that at the quarterback position is, well... hardly a thing (John Beck). But Griffin doesn't have the weapons of a 2009 Campbell, who had Santana Moss putting up 70 catches or a tail-end-of-his-career Antwaan Randle El. Instead, last year's leading receiver was Jabar Gaffney, who's been on four different teams over ten seasons and just three years ago broke 700 yards for the first time. The Redskins also picked up Josh Morgan, Pierre Garcon and Dezmon Briscoe to fight for receiver depth. Tight end Fred Davis makes for a pretty solid target taking over from perennial fantasy safety blanket Chris Cooley, as in twelve games last year he still put up 796 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Running back is currently a mixed bag, so we'll be seeing a lot of different guys trotted out, particulary Roy Helu and Tim Hightower. It's Mike Shanahan, who always found ways to get the running backs the ball.
Defense: Defense is where it gets interesting for the Bears. There's Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, who come early and often after the quarterback, so pass protection will get another extremely good test. DeAngelo Hall still roams the backfield. And there's Brandon Meriweather patrolling the safety spot - or at least looking to stick on a roster.
Yardage-wise, this is a unit that sets up well, ranking 13th last season. However, they don't get after the football (13 interceptions last year, 22nd; 21 takeaways, 23rd) and they give up a fair amount of touchdowns - and all told, were 21st in total points allowed. Yet in the draft, their first three picks were a quarterback (Griffin), an offensive lineman (Josh LeRibeus, 3rd round) and a second quarterback (Kirk Cousins). Seriously, what is Cousins going to provide that another defensive player couldn't from the fourth round (in terms of magnitude of total production)? Develop for a later draft pick? Maybe. But with Griffin on the roster and already the starter, did the Redskins really need to go two deep on quarterbacks? I'll admit offense is the bigger need on the Redskins roster, but was a second quarterback really necessary after a first-rounder? The only other two defensive draft picks were seventh rounders.
To be fair though, they signed linebacker Jonathan Goff in April only to release him in July and claimed cornerback Morgan Trent from Jacksonville, so I guess they're improving the defense slightly?
Closing Thoughts: So primarily we'll be looking at the pass rush against the Bears offensive line, and vice versa, but a couple other things too:
- Will Jay Cutler continue to challenge DeAngelo Hall, and will Cutler win this one?
- Will J'Marcus Webb or Chris Williams finally show that they deserve to take the #1 LT spot?
- How will the defensive line react to Griffin and play against him? How often will we see the linebackers play any sort of contain?
- How will the cornerback battle play out?
Those are just a few of the things that I'll be looking for - how about you?