Noots' Notes

The Washington Redskins smothered the Bears' offense en route to a 9-7 win on Sunday. The Bears couldn't run the ball. Washington did just enough to allow Kyle Orton to self-destruct.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Kyle Orton (15-28-141, Int, 2 Fumbles) had a lot to overcome. He only has been taking first team reps for a couple of weeks. Washington is a difficult venue to play at with over 90,000 fans. The Redskins were one of the top defenses last year. The lack of a viable running attack continually put him in long down and distance situations. Early on, he was not very sharp. He threw some passes late, and missed Marc Edwards in the flat. At times, he appeared to be locked in on Muhsin Muhammad. He threw a red zone interception in Muhammad's direction, despite ample time to throw the ball and lots of bodies around Muhammad. At the end of the game, he had the ball stripped away by Cornelius Griffin. The fumble at the end was an example of Orton hanging onto the ball a bit too long. He wasn't always seeing the passing lane well, which is crucial in short drops to prevent the ball from being deflected at the line. This happened far too many times on Sunday. He also threw a few errant passes that looked like sure interceptions. Between it all, he stepped up in the pocket, and excelled at medium range passes. Orton was able to recognize the blitz, but struggled at times to get the play or adjustment called at the line (there was a problem with his helmet receiver as well). Overall, for a rookie, it was a decent performance. He showed good poise in difficult circumstances. Rookie aside, it was not good enough to get the job done. GRADE: D

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (15/31, TD, 2-14) found very little running room against the Redskins' defensive front seven. He did an excellent job in pass protection, and caught the ball well when he was the receiver. Fullback Marc Edwards was unable to make many holes for Jones, and didn't get too many opportunities to catch the ball. Cedric Benson (3/10) saw second half action and had a few short carries. Having missed the entire preseason, there was a concern about how well he could pick up the blitz. He was tested and did very well picking up a blitz off the edge on the right side. It's tough to gain yards when there aren't many holes. However, good running backs break tackles and make people miss to pick up yardage. This didn't happen on Sunday. GRADE: C-

Receivers

Muhsin Muhammad (6-59) took a big hit over the middle to jar loose what would have been a key reception. He also dropped two other passes, one short of the sticks for a large gain along the sideline on a 3rd and 38 play, and another on a pass that Orton threw too low. He didn't have many opportunities when defenders weren't all over him. He'll have to get used to it, since very few passes were intended for other Bear wide receivers. Mark Bradley adjusted well in coverage to come down with a pass along the sideline. Justin Gage made a key reception in the red zone to set up the Bears' only score. Bernard Berrian picked up a first down on a crossing route. Tight end Desmond Clark (3-26) had a decent game receiving the ball. He picked up a few first downs, but struggled to hold onto the football as he was hitting the turf. John Gilmore committed a false start to take the Bears out of a 3rd and 2 situation. GRADE: D

Offensive Line

The Bears had a very difficult time trying to run against the Redskins. When it came to passing, Kyle Orton had a comfortable pocket to throw from for much of the game, even against the blitz. The line suffered consecutive breakdowns in the fourth quarter that took them out of field goal range. They went from 2nd down and 13 on the Redskins' 38-yard line to 2nd and 28 after successive false start penalties on Metcalf, Tait and Brown. A blitz up the middle on the next play resulted in a sack, making it 3rd and 38. John Tait was called for holding former Bear Phillip Daniels. Daniels not only played the run well but deflected several Kyle Orton passes. A decent job in pass protection (3 sacks) was overshadowed by the unacceptable run blocking production (41 total rushing yards). GRADE: D


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Adewale Ogunleye (5 tackles, sack, PD, FF) had an early sack and forced fumble, as well as a pass defended. He made quite a few plays against the run, but eventually he and the other linemen were worn down in the second half. Alex Brown (2 tackles) did not have a particularly good game. He had trouble holding the edge on the run and rarely factored rushing the passer. Tackle Tank Johnson (3 tackles) made a hustle play to stop Clinton Portis (21/121). He was flagged for roughing the passer in the early going but was very active. Tommie Harris and Ian Scott were also stout against the run early but neither were able to generate any kind of pass rush. Harris had a quiet game by his standards. Scott had a tackle for a loss in the first half on Portis. Ladell Betts (12/41) spelled Portis. He gained some tough yards up the middle. Overall, the run defense was good early but fell apart as the game wore on. The pass rush was solid, but too much of it was the result of the blitz. GRADE: B

Linebackers

Lance Briggs made a game-changing play. He blitzed off the left edge to sack Patrick Ramsey (6-11-105, Int) and separate him from the ball. Briggs took Ramsey down in clothesline fashion, knocking the Redskins' quarterback out of the contest. Mark Brunell (8-14-70) finished the game for him. Brian Urlacher (9 tackles, sack) registered a tackle for a loss and a sack on successive plays. He and the rest of the defense appeared to be a step ahead of Portis for the first half. Portis became more patient in the second half, and Bear defenders began running past him. Hunter Hillenmeyer finished with only one tackle. The linebackers did an extremely good job working their gaps in the first half. Like the linemen, they were worn down in the second half. They did a good job of helping the line generate pass rush pressure, and performed well in coverage. GRADE: B

Secondary

Nathan Vasher intercepted two passes, but one of them was called back for interference. Although the referee gave Vasher's number, it appeared safety Mike Green committed the infraction. It would have been a huge play, because Vasher returned the interception far into Redskin territory. Green also took a poor angle on a reception by Santana Moss (4-96) that went for 52 yards. Charles Tillman (8 tackles, FF) saw a lot of short passes come his way. He made quite a few tackles in the open field. Mike Brown (9 tackles, PD) had a good pass breakup of a ball intended for Chris Cooley. Apart from one big play, he appears to be making a good transition to strong safety. Brown's missed tackle of Clinton Portis was a key to his backbreaking 41-yard run. The Bears turned the ball over on the previous play, but the Redskins were pinned at their own 6-yard line. Jerry Azumah jumped high on a blitz to deflect a pass. He looked lost on a 15-yard completion to convert a 3rd and 5 late in the game. Todd Johnson (6 tackles) saw some action and made a nice play to keep Cooley out of the end zone, forcing a field goal attempt. Azumah's third down play was emblematic of the secondary's effort. While there were some big plays, there were far too many mental mistakes and long third down conversions. That said, their performance would have been good enough if the offense would have produced more than seven points. GRADE: C+


SPECIAL TEAMS

Doug Brien didn't have any field goal attempts and was adequate on his kickoffs. Punter Brad Maynard had a very good game. His punts were returned for very few yards, and he pinned the Redskins inside the 20-yard line three times. One of his kicks was downed at the 2-yard line. Unfortunately, punt and kickoff returns were atrocious. Since Azumah was easing into the lineup after hip surgery, Mark Bradley returned kickoffs. His returns got worse and worse as the game wore on. It got so bad, that on one of his returns he ran into and was tackled by a defender who wasn't even looking at him. Bernard Berrian returned punts, and fumbled a reverse attempt. Coverage was reasonably good, highlighted by a forced fumble by the recently acquired Brendon Ayanbadejo. Joe Odom recovered the fumble, setting up the Bears with the field position needed to score their only touchdown. Carl Ford made a big stop on a punt return. GRADE: B-


COACHING

Despite Bobby Wade and Rashied Davis looking good returning punts, Wade was made inactive and Berrian did all the returning. Davis looked like the most natural kickoff and punt returner on the team, and never saw action. Mark Bradley and Bernard Berrian were very ineffective returning kicks. In a close game, field position could have been the difference in having one chance to kick a field goal. Defensive line substitutions were made to rotate Tank Johnson and Ian Scott. However, they could have used more. Alfonso Boone didn't see much action at defensive tackle. The interior linemen could have used another fresh body, especially with all the running plays, while the ends could have used more of a break from Michael Haynes who was used very sparingly. Perhaps the Bears' coaches should instruct the offensive linemen to drive block or cut block on some of the quick passes, to prevent the ball from being tipped at the line. The mismatch blitz over Jon Jansen that led to Briggs' sack was a good call against a lineman playing with a cast. The screen pass to Jones was a good call as well. Maybe there should have been a few more of those to keep the Redskins off balance. GRADE: D


GAME BALLS

Brendon Ayanbadejo
Adewale Ogunleye
Brian Urlacher
Lance Briggs
Nathan Vasher

HORNS

John Tait
Mike Green
Kyle Orton

HARDEST HITS

Lance Briggs on Patrick Ramsey



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