Before I get to my preview, I feel I should clear up a few things from my blog about the Seahawks game. Since this is my first season blogging about the Bears, I now know that it is a bad idea to write a game review within hours of the completion of the game. I made the mistake of letting my frustration cloud my judgment. It has been my goal to write a passionate blog from my perspective of a lifelong, somewhat knowledgeable fan. While I stand by much of what I wrote, I think I need to clarify my perspective on Jay Cutler. After re-reading what I wrote, it sounds like I'm ready to return to Ron Turner and Kyle Orton. That's not what I meant. I think I had unrealistic expectations for Jay Cutler that he couldn't possibly live up to. I remember saying to numerous people that since the Bears won nine games in 2008, then Cutler should be at least a two game improvement over Orton. So, I thought the Bears could win 11 in 2009. I realize now that Jay's skill set, in and of itself, obviously cannot improve the fortunes of a team that has struggled seemingly forever to find a consistent passing game. I still love his potential and he amazes me with some of the throws he can make. But, teaming him with Mike Martz was a bad idea. You don't give a pyromaniac a flame thrower. The Bears should have found a coordinator who would've been willing to run some version of the West Coast offense, especially knowing their offensive line would be a liability. A short passing game is needed to be successful in the NFL today, and it is even more necessary for the Bears due to their woeful protection.
The Bears organization really put themselves in a terrible position by not removing Angelo and Smith this off season. If this season turns out to be Lovie's last stand, then Cutler will have to learn yet another new offense next year. That is the quickest way to stunt the growth of a quarterback. So, I'm stuck with a terrible quandary. I want the Bears to win each week and be a playoff contender. But, if that happens this year, then Lovie and Angelo will be back next year. In the long run, I don't see how these two men can lead this team to becoming perennial contenders. Hopefully, they'll prove me wrong with a deep playoff run this year and a strong off season focused on rebuilding the offensive line. Either way, I'm still happy we got Cutler. The trade was not a mistake. But, he still needs cut down on the bad decisions, and the rest of the offense needs to figure out what the hell is going on.
Redskins vs Bears Preview
I was really hoping that the next time Mike Shanahan was roaming the sidelines at Solider Field it would've been as coach of the Bears. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. He now comes to Chicago as coach of the 3-3 Redskins. They've beaten Green Bay and Dallas this season, just like the Bears. They've got a fairly mobile quarterback with a strong arm, just like the Bears. At first glance, I was really worried about this game. After the Bears 3-1 start, I thought they'd beat Seattle and Carolina, lose to Washington, and beat Buffalo. The Seattle game threw a wrench in those plans. But, now I think the Bears can win this game, mostly because I can't see them losing back-to-back games at home.
The Redskins, like most teams this year, are tough to figure out. They currently rank last in overall defense (420 yds/game) and 15th in offense (336.8 yds/game). The Colts put up a ton of yards against them, so the defensive stats could be a little misleading. They have some talent on defense with Brian Orakpo being the one that worries me the most. He leads them with five sacks this year, so the Bears will need to account for him like they did against Clay Matthews. Landry has made some big plays, too, so Cutler will need to know where he is on every play.
On offense, McNabb continues to be productive, albeit inconsistent. His rating is 78.8 this year and he's thrown five touchdowns and five picks. He'll take chances down the field, and I worry that Moss could get behind the Bears secondary if the pass rush is as anemic as it has been for stretches this year. Peppers needs to make up for his disappearing act last game, and the defense as a whole needs to play with more urgency. I expect a better overall defensive performance, especially from Tillman, who Mike Williams torched on Sunday. The Redskins running game is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, so their offensive line is getting some push. Brian Iwuh filled in nicely for Lance Briggs last week, but he is not a difference maker. Hopefully, Briggs can play this week. Urlacher is having a great season, but they are a different defense when both are in there.
Ok, stop me if you heard this before. The Bears offensive line/protection will be the key to this game. If Cutler can get any time to throw the ball, this is a dangerous offense. Martz, who I've officially broken up with, can't continue to put Cutler in bad situations. Even if the Bears are averaging two yards per carry, it'll still put them in manageable 3rd down situations. This line will not produce 218 yards rushing every game like they did against the Panthers, but Martz can't simply abandon the running game if the score is within seven to ten points. Forte is a long-strider who needs 18-20 carries in order to increase his chances of breaking a long run. Martz also needs to call dump passes to Forte, Olsen, and Taylor more. He needs to put Forte and Taylor in the backfield together more. He needs to stop calling seven-step drops for every pass play. I should just copy and paste this paragraph for every preview. Converting some 3rd downs will help, too. They have three 3rd down conversions in October and all of those came against the Panthers. They are worst in the league (17.6%) at converting 3rd downs. I guess it can only go up from here, right? Right?
The special teams continues to be a serious weapon for the Bears. It's great to see Hester get his mojo back, and Manning is a ferocious runner. I think Manning was a tailback college. I wonder if they've ever considered using him on short yardage carries?
I think the Bears will come out fired up, get some turnovers, and beat the Redskins. This is an important game heading into the bye week. These are the games they need to win especially considering their remaining schedule (Vikings twice, Dolphins, Eagles, Patriots, Jets, Packers).
Bears 24, Redskins 17