With a short week we don’t get a lot of time to examine the match ups or possible injuries for the Redskins game. Redskins players will have to prepare for the game on short rest after the funeral of teammate Sean Taylor. Many of the Bears players, including Devin Hester, will also be in attendance for the funeral so both sides of the field will be affected. However, in 5 hours the Bears and Redskins will take the field and a football game will be played so let’s look at the reality of the situation.
Bears Offense v. Redskins Defense
Losing Sean Taylor not only leaves an emotional void but a huge defensive void. The Redskins struggled against the Buffalo Bills offense, which has so few weapons it makes the Bears look like the Patriots. It seems like an optical illusion to see that they have the 10th ranked defense in the league but that reality is that the Redskins have a talented team with a consistency problem. The biggest issue at game time will be what Redskins team showed up to play, the 10th ranked defense or the team that has lost 4 in a row and has struggled.
The Bears offense has seemed to find an identity with a suddenly decisive quarterback and a utility back. The Chicago media has been pushing for the Bears to run more of the shotgun offense that worked on the opening drive last weekend. I fail to see how that would be the solution when Rex Grossman runs a great play action and has been placing balls perfectly the past 3 weeks, only to have receivers dropping passes. Eventually it should start to connect and the offense will open up the rest of the playbook. I blame most of the Bears troubles on offense the last couple weeks on the inability of the receiver corps to come down with the ball in big play opportunities.
Now that Adrian Peterson has put in a solid performance and shown his capabilities the Bears will likely go to him on the ground and through the air on a more consistent basis. Of course this is the logical thought if you have a talented player, but the way the Bears have been running backwards on offense we will probably see Garrett Wolfe play the entire 4th quarter. The decision to put certain players on the field and leave others off has been a broken record since week 1. Even the coaches are second guessing themselves about the talent they have on the roster.
I’m looking for Adrian Peterson to have another day of at least 150 total yards rushing and receiving with a touchdown. Hopefully after the embarrassing performance from last week the receiver corps will make an effort to get at the ball and come down with some big plays for the offense. Until defenses focus on Desmond Clark, Rex will continue to go after his favorite target. Everyone knows that Rex will drop a bomb or two towards Bernard Berrian on play action, the question is if he can come down with one tonight.
Redskins Offense v. Bears Defense
The Redskins are 9th in the league in rushing with Clinton Portis taking on the role of work horse the second half of the season. He had some big success against the Jets and Eagles, but the past two weeks against Tampa Bay and Buffalo he got 20+ carries and couldn’t get a rhythm. Jason Campbell has been pass happy the second half of the season and found big success against the Eagles, but since then has struggled to find the endzone. In the past 3 weeks he has thrown for lots of small completion passes but has thrown for 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions during that time. The Redskins still have the big playmaker threats in Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El but Moss has become a shadow of his former self and Randle El has managed to get this far into the season with no touchdowns. Campbell’s main target this season has been Chris Cooley, who has surprised the league has yet another dominant tight end threat. So the Bears focus will be on Portis and Cooley and probably leave Tillman alone on Moss.
The Bears have shown some moments of brilliance that remind you of that amazing defense of last year. They had the Giants contained from getting into the endzone despite giving up a lot of yardage on the field. Once the 4th quarter started the Bears defense looked helpless to stop anything the Giants ran on the field. This week they will try to give themselves something to rebuild on for next year. You can count on a great effort by Adewale Oguleye, but the rest of the team has failed to step it up to the same level. They got back one of the biggest elements that made them great last year, creating turnovers, but the offense couldn’t do anything with it. The offense and defense have failed to be in sync all season. Who thought a defense considered one of the top units in the league last season would be ranked 28th the next season?? The injury to Nathan Vasher and the holes in the secondary have proved too much to overcome. The Bears have the ability to contain a lackluster Redskins offense but the way the secondary has given up big plays you have to hope they keep an eye on Moss the entire game.
Given the success of the Giants last week, the Redskins will kick the ball away from Devin Hester until the Bears figure out a way to counter it and make a big play on special teams. A lot of the short kicks have been fielded by Rashied Davis, who has the capability to take the opposing special teams off guard and run one back for a score. The drawback to a short kick is you don’t give the kickoff team much time to get to the ball carrier. Perhaps the Bears should think about switching up Davis and Hester on the kickoff return team to mess up opposing teams.
Topics: Adewale Ogunleye, Adrian Peterson, Antwaan Randle El, Bears, Bernard Berrian, Chicago Bears, Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis, Desmond Clark, Devin Hester, Garrett Wolfe, Jason Campbell, Nathan Vasher, Rashied Davis, Redskins, Rex Grossman, Santana Moss, Sean Taylor, Thursday, Washington Redskins