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Redskins-Bears: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Oct 17, 2013

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Bears battle at the friendly confines of FedExField.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Bears battle at the friendly confines of FedExField.

“Redskins-Bears: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

On Sunday night, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III rushed for more yards (77) than he had in the first four games combined (72) this season. It was no surprise then that the offense produced more yards (433) than in any other game this season, and more than twice as many as the Cowboys (213).

Sunday night had all of the makings of a trademark 2012 Redskins victory: balanced offense, stifling defense and ball control. But the Redskins failed to contain Dwayne Harris on special teams and struggled to put the ball in the end zone from the red zone (0-for-3). These stats are frustrating, but fixable, and it starts with Robert Griffin III taking the same playmaker's mindset into Week 7.

Where he may have thrown the ball away, forced a pass or been caught for the sack in Weeks 1-3, he showed a comfort escaping the pocket and making a play with his feet. Call it confidence or a solid de-rusting, but Robert Griffin III finally got his mojo back last week and the offense responded instantly. He is the straw that stirs the drink and showed the signs of good things ahead.

NOT MY FORTE

The Redskins defense given the offense a chance to win the game in each of the last two weeks, largely by shutting down the other team's running game (75 yards per game). But those numbers are decieving, as the opponent's starting running back in each game has been removed from the game with injury.

Will that trend continue this week? Don't count on it.

Over the course of his career, Bears running back Matt Forte has averaged 15 starts per season and 4.2 yards per carry. He is a bruiser at 6-2, 218 pounds, and can hurt defenses up the middle or on the edge.

Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said this week that the defense's No. 1 goal is to stop Forte, a move easier said than done. He is averaging nearly 17 carries per game with another five or six receptions in space.

By limiting Forte's impact on the game, the Redskins can force the Bears to take flight, a scenario in which they feel much more confident. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said the unit set a standard with last week's performance (213 yards of Cowboys offense), and he expects them to play like that every week.

SEEKING THE SUNDAY SPECIAL

The Redskins made good on their disappointment about last week's special teams play, signing three players rooted in special teams to their roster. Kyle Nelson will replacen injured Nick Sundberg, Josh Hull will replace injured Bryan Kehl, and Trenton Robinson will replace Jordan Pugh.

The good news is that last week's performance set a very low standard for improvement. The question is whether or not the additions will be enough?

In one week, the Redskins need Nelson to work seamlessly with Kai Forbath and particularly Sav Rocca, who relies on Nelson for extra points, field goals and punts. Last year, the Redskins swapped in Justin Snow for Sundberg with decent results, and replaced Billy Cundiff with Forbath, so making changes is not unheard of. The margin of error, however, is very small.

In coverage, Josh Hull has big shoes to fill, replacing Kehl who led the team with six special teams tackles, as many as the next two guys combined. His injury not only hurts the Redskins in the long term, but also led to one of Harris' long returns when Kehl collapsed with a torn ACL. Hull has experience on all four special teams units and thinks he can be ready by gametime.

Throw in the fact that the Redskins are uncertain at kick and punt returner, benching Chris Thompson for Joshua Morgan and Niles Paul, and all of a sudden there is little to be certain of on special teams.

Obviously the group has to work as one 11-limbed creature rather than the porous unit they have become. They will be tested by one of the finest returners ever, as Devin Hester will line up deep and look to make them pay. The Redskins have to be committed to gap responsibilities and focused on technique. Trust the guy standing next to you and let 'er rip.

NO MORE MISCUES

Last week, the Redskins were victim of a number of miscommunicated signals between Robert Griffin III and his teammates that led to incompletions and turning the wrong way on a handoff.

What's done is done at this point, but the Redskins have to take advantage of a quiet home crowd on offense and get in a rhythm early. By getting Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garcon on the same page, it allows the Redskins to execute the gameplan as it was intended.

Garcon is the team's top playmaking receiver, but will also draw a crowd in coverage. If he and Griffin III click in the early goings, it will also open up opportunities for Leonard Hankerson, Joshua Morgan and Aldrick Robinson to get involved. The more balanced this offense can stay, the more like the Redskins are of winning their first home game since Week 17 last year.

It starts with superior gameplan but boils down to simple execution. Make the plays and walk out a winner.

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