Bears vs. Redskins: Breaking Down Chicago's Game Plan
The Bears struggled to get pressure on Eli Manning most of the night and had trouble slowing down running back Brandon Jacobs, and they will need to shore up their defense heading into their Week 7 matchup against the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins are coming off of a 31-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys that dropped them to 1-4 and third place in the NFC East.
The Bears and Redskins have met 47 times, with the series split at 23-23-1 with the Redskins winning the past four matchups.
This Sunday, the Bears will travel to Washington to try to improve to 5-2 before heading into their bye week during Week 8, but they will need to look at what other teams have done successfully against the Redskins this season to have an effective game plan.
Force DeAngelo Hall to Make Mistakes
Jay Cutler is all too familiar with DeAngelo Hall's ability to take the ball away. During the team's last meeting in 2010, Hall picked off Cutler four times to tie an NFL record (that he shares with 18 others) for most interceptions in a game.
Following the game, Hall and Cutler traded headlines with Cutler saying, per Nate Davis of USA Today, "I'd still, if we had to play them tomorrow, I'd go at him every time if we could."
Hall fired back the next day on the NFL Network, claiming (h/t USA Today), "If I played Jay Cutler each week, I'd be in the Hall of Fame."
One of Hall's biggest weaknesses is his tendency to give up big plays, often a combination of mental lapses and his smaller size.
Hall gives Nelson a free release off the ball (pictured below) but drops too far in while the defense bails on its blitz, bringing just three and dropping eight back in coverage.
Hall's initial goal is to jam the slant, but because he plays so far off in coverage, the bigger and stronger Nelson has an easy catch (pictured below) and is not rattled by Hall's hit and barrels in for a touchdown.
As mentioned earlier, Hall will likely be matched up against Marshall, who, at 6'4" and 240 pounds, has a sizeable advantage over Hall's 5'10" and 190-pound frame. If he decides to play Marshall off, then Cutler may finally be able to get his revenge against Hall this Sunday.
Contain Robert Griffin III Outside of the Pocket
All of the talk surrounding the Redskins this offseason was centered around the return of Robert Griffin III from his knee surgery. He did not play during the preseason but started Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
While his numbers have not been terrible (1,448 yards passing, six touchdowns, five interceptions) he has lacked the big-time plays that Redskins fans came accustomed to seeing with him last season.
Despite only rushing for 149 yards on 27 carries, he is slowly becoming a threat again with his legs, and the Bears will have to contain him when he gets outside of the pocket.
The Redskins like to utilize their running game with Alfred Morris to eventually open up the passing game through the play action.
During their Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lion, RGIII and the offense lined up with two receivers to his right, Morris in the backfield and tight ends up on the line of scrimmage to his left (pictured below).
RGIII fakes the handoff to Morris and rolls to his right, but he is being pursued by Detroit's Willie Young (pictured below). Without any receivers open downfield, RGII continues to roll back due to the pressure of Young.
Young continues to pursue RGIII to the sideline (circled in red below). It forces RGIII to throw the ball down the field, and it is eventually intercepted by Chris Houston (circled in blue).
Young played RGIII perfectly in that situation by continuing to pursue and push him toward the sideline and hope for him to force a pass down the field. Look for the Bears to try to utilize the speed of Shea McClellin to slow him down when he attempts to roll outside of the pocket.
Use Shea McClellin's Speed to Contain RGIII
The Bears used McClellin in a spy role at times against a similar quarterback, Russell Wilson, last season when they played the Seattle Seahawks. He has been, in the eyes of some fans, a bust through the early portion of his career. While he has struggled to get to the quarterback and is often subdued by stronger linemen, his best asset is his speed, and they can use that to their advantage this Sunday.
When facing off against the Seahawks in Week 13 last season, they lined up McClellin inside at the defensive tackle position (pictured below) but would have him approach the line of scrimmage standing up and he would then drop back in coverage, spying Wilson.
On the drive in which the Seahawks took the lead late in the fourth quarter, Wilson bolted to the outside (pictured below) and McClellin ran to the outside to try to contain him.
McClellin was unable to get there in time because he initially bit on Wilson's fake to the left, and instead of heading downhill to meet him, he continued to work laterally, freeing up more time for him to get rid of the ball.
If the Bears do intend on using McClellin in a spy role, he will have to do a better job of reading the quarterback's eyes and not biting on fakes. He is quick enough to get to the outside, and a strong performance against RGIII and the Redskins might take a little heat off of the struggling former first-round pick.
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