This week, Redskins.com caught up with FOX NFL commentator Kenny Albert, who shared his thoughts on the Washington Redskins and keys to this Sunday's game vs. the Chicago Bears.
Brian Tinsman: You call preseason games for the Redskins broadcast and watched them go a perfect 4-0 through preseason play. Have you been surprised that a team that cohesive has struggled through the first six weeks of the regular season?
Kenny Albert: “Definitely a little surprised, like you said coming off a preseason 4-0 and obviously RGIII didn’t play. It wasn’t the full lineup that we were going to see in the regular season. We’ve seen teams go 4-0 in the preseason in the past and not have a good record in the regular season and vise versa teams have gone 0-4 and then have great regular seasons.
“It’s a tough schedule when you look at the first five opponents. Obviously, they won the game in Oakland and the Detroit game at home were ones where certainly Redskins fans would have put a W next to. You look at the Lions they are 4-2 they are off to a start better than most expected.
"With Robert [Griffin III], he’s such an impressive guy, we had a chance to do his first game in New Orleans. When we sat down with him he is mature beyond his years, it was hard to believe he was a rookie. Pleasant to speak with and such an intelligent guy, you look at guys like Adrian Peterson last year who came back from the injury and played week one. I know that was a goal of Robert’s he has a lot of pride and he is a guy that wants to be there for his team and he was week one.
"When you look at the game this weekend, obviously huge as far as getting back into the division race, with Dallas playing Philly obviously one team is going to get four wins. If the Redskins can win, they will be right there as far as one game behind the second place team.
"You look at last year where they started 3-6 and they won there last seven so there is still a long way to go. It is only week six, there is always some team that starts off slow, similar to what the Redskins did last year and end up having a great run in the second half of the year and make the playoffs."
BT: Looking around the NFC East, is it surreal to see losing records for everyone except the first place team in a typically competitive division?
KA: “It’s not what I expected, going into the season when you look at what the Redskins did last year with 10 wins and the Cowboys who have come close the last couple of years, they have had those critical losses with the last game of the regular season and the last two years when they had a chance to make the playoffs. The Giants just two years removed from a Super Bowl, I think the Eagles were the one real wildcard with the coaching change.
"I thought it would be a real competitive division and it still can be. It’s early and the NFL puts out all these stats with teams with losing records after four weeks, five weeks, six weeks that go on to make the playoffs.
"Some of the divisions are kind of upside down this year, when you look at the Giants at 0-6 and the struggles the Steelers have had. Then you have a team like Kansas City that won only two games a year ago, are off to a 6-0 start.
"Definitely a bit surprised as far as the NFC East goes but there is a lot of time left. There are still a lot of games left to play each other, it’ll be interesting to see how things develop."
BT: Looking at this game specifically, what are some key matchups that the Redskins have to win?
KA: "Special teams will be a key area with the Redskins having had their problems last week against Dallas’ special teams. Chicago brings in two of the best in the league in Robbie Gould, who hasn’t missed a field goal this year and a 58-yarder which is the longest in the NFL. Devin Hester who probably along with Brian Mitchell is probably among the greatest of all time, both potential hall of famers. He hasn’t scored a touchdown in a while, it has been 28 games but the threat is always there. He had a huge game against Minnesota earlier this year, set a franchise record for kick return yards, the special teams will always be a focus.
"You also have to be concerned about Chicago’s ability to score on defense. Led the league last year, they already have four touchdowns on defense this year. Despite the new coaching staff, it’s not Lovie Smith and his staff but they have kept that mentality on defense.
"One area the Redskins could be looking to exploit, the Redskins are second in the league in yards per carry trailing only Philadelphia. When you look at the Bears up the middle they have a number of injuries. With Nate Collins, Henry Melton and D.J. Williams who was brought in to replace Brian Urlacher. We will have a rookie Jon Bostic starting there. I think that is a key area for the Redskins to focus on is the run game up the middle against some of the guys who were not starters earlier in the season."
BT: Does it help that head coach Mike Shanahan has experience with Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler, or have those connections been overblown this week?
KA: "The familiarity is there, but even if you coach a guy, there is so much tape out there they don’t let anything fall through the cracks. They’re watching almost every play from the entire season and prior.
"Cutler is a guy that can throw the football, he has a great arm and he can also run. He’s kind of a duel threat so it will be a challenge for the Redskins. He has been prone to the turnover in his career at times.
BT: What kind of pass rusher is
KA: "I have always been impressed with him, the games that I’ve seen. I know he is only in his third year, he has had some big sack numbers the first two years and he has made some big plays. The two interceptions for touchdowns the last two years and I know one of them came on the big stage, a national televised game.
"Last year there was probably more of a focus on Ryan with Brian out with the injury in the second game. I think he is a guy when you look at the Redskins defense, he is one of the guys that stands out. He is a guy that offenses have to know where he is at all times.
"This week playing Chicago, with the two rookies on the right side that will be one of the things we’re looking at with the rookie right guard and right tackle of the Bears."
BT: Based on what you've seen through 19 regular season games, is running back
KA: "I think he proved it last year with the numbers he put up. Incredible as a sixth round pick coming in. That’s obviously been Mike Shanahan’s history, drafted Terrell Davis in the sixth round and a lot of backs and they have all been apart of this system that Mike used in Denver and now with the Redskins.
"The team yards per carry are up over five and he’s a big reason why. I see no reason why he can’t continue the success he has had."
BT: Who do you think is going to have a better game: Morris or Bears running back Matt Forte?
KA: "Forte has put up some big numbers, the Bears are a team that likes to throw the football with the guys they have on the outside with Marshall and Jeffery having a nice year, the tight end Bennett has put up some big numbers.
"You could say the Bears are more of a passing team than a running team. Forte is a guy who has gained 1,000 yards in three of his five seasons. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield as well."