1. We asked: What is the Redskins mental state?
We thought it was
pretty good based on their body language Tuesday, the day after Sean Taylor's funeral. There was almost a peace about them and a realization
that life must continue. They seemed relaxed and played that way. They
were clearly ready to play, even if the offense struggled big time
early on. But they played hard and played 60 minutes.
2. We asked: Can they possibly have anything left in the tank?
They clearly did, again based on how they played for 60 minutes this time.
It helped that Chicago is just not very good right now. It should help
them getting away for the weekend, leaving them refreshed for next
week. That said, they still have major problems going forward, but some
of that is lessened by Thursday's win.
3. We asked: What's the biggest concern entering this game?
concern was injuries. Little did I know it would get worse during the
game when Jason Campbell dislocated his left kneecap, leaving him
likely out for the season. We'll find out today. Hasn't this team been
through enough? Shawn Springs, though, played all four quarters and did
a pretty good job, turning in a huge play with the second-quarter
interception. Also, Stephon Heyer started at right tackle and held his
own. He's not very good in the run game, but he did OK in protection.
But give Todd Collins a ton of credit. He looked like he'd been running
this offense for, well, years – which he has. But not in game
situations. To be that good was fantastic. His decision-making was
terrific and the ball usually arrived as the receiver turned around.
The timing made up for any lack of zip.
4. We asked: How much can Randy Thomas help?
Apparently not much. We
thought he would help simply with his athleticism. But he hurt his
elbow and we have to believe it stemmed from the fact that he hadn't
faced full contact since his Week 2 injury. At this point, it's
uncertain when he'll return, but the Redskins would be wise to be
5. We asked: Where have the linebackers been?
The linebackers did a
better job, London Fletcher in particular. Rocky McIntosh blew up a
couple lead blocks and Marcus Washington had a sack. But for the most
part this game was about the secondary, the corners in particular. The
Redskins couldn't play a certain way if they didn't feel good about the
matchups on the outside. The corners tackled very well and that helped.
They were beaten a couple times, as will happen in man coverage, which
they played most of the night.
6. We asked: Has Joe Gibbs lost it?
That certainly seemed to be the
case in terms of clock management, etc. However, he hasn't lost it as a
guy who knows how to lead. Look at what this team has been through and
tell me anyone thought they'd be able to finish strong last night. Give
the coaches credit for such a performance. But we also thought the red
zone offense and turnovers were bigger problems than Gibbs' time outs.
And yesterday the Redskins were better inside the 20. The difference in
the game was the touchdown to Ladell Betts. In past games, that drive
would have resulted in a field goal and crossed fingers on the ensuing
opponents' drive. They had breathing room last night.
7. We asked: What are the key offensive matchups?
We thought it was
Redskins tight end Chris Cooley against strong safety Brandon McGowan.
He did not cover Cooley all the time, but Cooley certainly abused him
when he did. Cooley had a fantastic night and continues to play at a
high level. He's the best offensive player on the team. We also thought
it would be Todd Wade against Adewale Ogunleye. But Wade was inactive
leaving Heyer at that spot. Again, he made some mistakes, but appeared
to do OK. His run blocking simply isn't all that good, not when he has
to get backside. But he did just fine in protection. We also thought
the Redskins would run at end Mark Anderson, which they did. But unlike
other teams they had no success because the line did not hold blocks
and the linebackers moved quickly to the ball.
8. We asked: What are the key defensive matchups?
Benard Berrian was a big one and both sides can claim success. Springs
did a pretty good job for a guy with a bad back and who wasn't able to
do anything this week. Berrian got behind him a couple times and made a
nice touchdown catch. He looked pretty good. Springs had two
interceptions, though neither came when he was covering Berrian. Also,
we thought the Redskins should blitz Rex Grossman up the middle. The
Redskins blitzed as much as they had all season and it worked against
Grossman and his replacement Brian Griese. They wanted to move the
quarterbacks off ‘'their spot'' and it worked.
9. We asked: Will the Redskins kick to Devin Hester?
We didn't think so
and they really didn't. On kickoffs, they squibbed them and on punts,
they kicked out of bounds. Derrick Frost had a good night, averaging
41.4 yards a punt and allowing Hester to only return one punt. That
took away Chicago's game-changer and Hester was never really close to
breaking one, a testament to the coverage units.
10. We asked: Will the Redskins win?
Well, I went back and forth and
even predicted them to lose in the Examiner. Given another day to
think, I changed my mind. That either makes me a campaigning politician
or flexible. I'll accept the latter. But I wasn't sold on Chicago being
good enough to win. That said, if I knew the injuries that would hit
Washington last night, I would have picked against them. It says a lot
that they could overcome all that they did and speaks to their
character. Gibbs has his flaws as a talent evaluator, but he knows
professionals and has a lot of them. I thought they would win 17-14.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins 24, Bears 16
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