1. What is the Redskins mental state?
All things considered, it's much,
much better than a week ago. The locker room felt somewhat normal on
Tuesday, which was a good sign as far as their emotional healing is
concerned. And more questions were asked about football than Sean Taylor, which has to help the players. Also, the funeral seemed to help
them, allowing them to celebrate Taylor and realize they had to move
2. Can they possibly have anything left in the tank?
We'll see. No team has ever endured a stretch like this one, where they not only play two
games in five days but do so under a heavy mourning period. Not to
mention a funeral in Miami on their one off day. The players will no
doubt be ready to play, but it's debatable how much they'll have left.
What this team really needs is a weekend away from football and they
won't get it until after this game.
3. What's the biggest concern entering this game?
Injuries. This is a
depleted team. Just look at the once golden secondary where only LaRon Landry is fully healthy. Shawn Springs has a bad back and it's supposed
to be rather cold tonight, which won't help keep it loose. Others are
banged up (James Thrash, Antwaan Randle El) and this team can ill
afford to play with key guys missing anymore.
4. How much can Randy Thomas help?
Well, he's facing a tough player in
Tommie Harris so that won't help. Thomas has had little contact since
his Week 2 injury so it's hard to say how he'll do. What will help is
that Thomas can pull, something Jason Fabini could not do. And he's
better at getting to the second level. His presence should also help
free Todd Wade to focus a little more on the edges rather than often
having to help inside. Thomas can't be at his former level yet, but he
5. Where have the linebackers been?
Good question. London Fletcher is
clearly wearing down, one reason why it's hard to have a small
linebacker in the middle. The Redskins have been giving him plays off
in practice to save his body. He's simply not been as quick to the ball
and this is why. Rocky McIntosh's shoulder injury has been a bigger
problem than anyone realizes. All those collisions are wearing him
down. The linebackers simply haven't made enough big plays lately. They
need to make a couple tonight.
6. Has Joe Gibbs lost it?
That certainly seems to be the case. But
blaming him for last week's loss is flat-out wrong. Yes, he bungled the
time out situation and he's done curious things in many games this
season. But when the team blows golden scoring opportunities in the red
zone, they won't win. That was one of the main reasons for the loss;
same with the two turnovers by Jason Campbell. That's a bigger problem
than Gibbs' end-of-game time out. That's why they need a better game
from Campbell and a better night in the red zone.
7. What are the key offensive matchups?
Redskins tight end Chris Cooley
should abuse strong safety Brandon McGowan, if that's how the Bears
match up. McGown is considered overly aggressive, which the Redskins
can work to their favor. Also, along the line it's Thomas against
Harris, who has seven sacks, and Todd Wade against Adewale Ogunleye,
who has nine sacks. Look for a tight end to again remain on this side
most of the night. The Redskins MUST run the ball. The Bears have
allowed around 150 yards rushing per game the last eight weeks. Right
end Mark Anderson is particularly bad against the run. So watch the
Skins run to his side.
8. What are the key defensive matchups?
Springs against receiver
Bernard Berrian, who averages more than 15 yards a catch. If Springs
can't play, then Berrian could have a big game. It also means the
safeties must defend the deep ball well. The Redskins must get pressure
on Rex Grossman, who in turn will make killer mistakes. The best way to
do so is up the middle with blitzes. Works often against him.
9. Will the Redskins kick to Devin Hester?
Lord, let's hope not. Hester
is a momentum changer, so why give the Bears a chance to change the
momentum of a game? The kickoffs likely will be high and short and the
punts will be directional and possibly out of bounds. Give the Bears 10
extra yards of field to prevent the possible long return. This is not a
time to be macho about it; this is a time to be smart.
10. Will the Redskins win?
I've gone back and forth on this one and
really want to pick the Redskins. Kind of hard to pick against them
after what's happened in the past week. If any team deserves a good
night, it's this one. Wednesday for the Washington Examiner, I picked
the Bears. But I'm officially changing my pick. The Redskins were very
relaxed this week. I think that'll make the difference. Redskins 17,
Ten Spot Preview: Bears at Redskins
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