Robert Griffin III has experienced some success recently, but he'll need to improve against Chicago.
The team certainly has plenty of problems besides its star quarterback; the defense is in the bottom-third of the league in both rushing and passing yards allowed.
But Griffin is what truly fuels the offense. He might not be able to play like he did in 2012 all the time, but he could certainly come closer to that level of play than he has recently.
The quarterback raised some eyebrows with his nine carries for 77 yards on the ground, both of which were season highs.
However, those numbers are meaningless when compared with the fact that he completed just 19 of 39 passes and turned the ball over twice in the game.
Chicago represents a big challenge for the reeling Redskins, and Griffin will need to focus on these areas of his game if he wants to earn the win.
The Bears thrive off creating turnovers, while Griffin has had serious issues controlling the ball recently.
He’s already thrown five interceptions on the season, matching his total from all of 2012.
By contrast, Chicago’s defense has been superb at forcing interceptions, as the Bears are currently fifth in the league with nine interceptions so far.
They’ve also returned three of those for scores, so it’s of paramount importance that Griffin keeps the ball out of the Bears’ hands.
He had a hard time with that goal against the Cowboys, throwing this puzzling pick in this fourth quarter.
It seems like Griffin was just trying to throw the ball away on this one, but if that was his goal, he should’ve been much more careful about it.
The Redskins can’t afford that kind of sloppiness against the Bears, especially considering how talented the team is at forcing turnovers.
Last season, Griffin was devastatingly effective when he threw the ball down the field.
Whether it was Pierre Garcon or Santana Moss, the quarterback consistently found his receivers for big gains.
This year, he’s really struggled in this area, as ESPN’s John Keim explains.
Griffin continues to struggle on downfield throws, especially when compared to last season. He’s completed just 36 percent of his passes on throws of more than 10 yards downfield, a steep drop-off from 2012 when he completed 59 percent of such throws.
Griffin averaged 14.6 yards per attempt on those passes a year ago (with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions); he’s averaging 7.5 this season (with one touchdown and three interceptions). Griffin was dreadful in this area Sunday, completing just three of 15 passes with an interception. All stats, by the way, are courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information.
Griffin has always had a strong arm, but it seems like he’s sailing some of these throws, suggesting that something is off with his footwork.
He also hasn’t been communicating particularly well with his receivers. There were at least two different instances against the Cowboys when Griffin and Garcon seemed to be on completely different pages in terms of route directions.
Despite their propensity for turnovers, the Bears are allowing an average of 271 yards through the air per game, so there’s room for Griffin to take advantage here.
He just needs to correct his mechanics slightly and develop his relationship with his receivers.
Observers all over the world are fascinated by Griffin’s running ability, and many started salivating over the prospect that it’s finally improved after the Dallas game.
While his legs do add a valuable element on the ground for the team, he should be careful not to get carried away.
Chicago is allowing the 12th-fewest rushing yards per game of any team, and they’re used to facing mobile quarterbacks.
This is where McClellin comes in. Last season against the Seattle Seahawks, the Bears used McClellin to spy quarterback Russell Wilson. It had mixed results, but so did the Bears’ entire defense that game.
The Bears need to maximize McClellin, who has only one sack. Pro Football Focus has him with a -10.2 rating because of his struggles against the run. But McClellin also is tied for the team lead with a combined 6½ quarterback knockdowns and hurries, according to STATS.
It might be tempting for Griffin to take off running at the first sign of trouble, but that seems ill-advised against the Bears.
The occasional designed run is fine, but the quarterback would be much better suited to keep his eyes downfield and pick apart the Bears’ porous secondary.
The danger is that Griffin already seems to be thinking about running the ball, as Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt notes.
Griffin thinks he has to run more for Redskins to succeed as an offense http://t.co/NajkqrEiL4— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 17, 2013
Griffin can be explosive on the ground, but for this team to come away with a win, he needs to keep his mind on the passing game, too.
After all, the Bears may be 4-2, but they’re hardly invincible.
They’ve allowed an average of 29 points over their last three games alone, so there’s the chance for Griffin to return to form.
If he can combine these elements in the passing game, and keep his focus on it instead of scrambling, this team can be one step closer to contending in the NFC East.