Washington Redskins vs. Chicago Bears: What's the Game Plan for Washington?

Marcel Davis@@Mar_CelDavis24Correspondent IDecember 11, 2015

With its playoff livelihood at stake, will Washington finally register a road win?
With its playoff livelihood at stake, will Washington finally register a road win?Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Having wasted a prime opportunity to separate themselves in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins' playoff fate hinges on their ability to win on the road. 

Three of their final four games will be played away from FedEx Field, where the team has lost nine consecutive games.

Against a Chicago Bears team equally inept at home (1-5), now is as good a time as any for the Redskins to get off the schneid.

Will they do it?

Let's find out. Here's the Week 14 game plan for Washington.

 

Offensive Game Plan

The Bears' porous run defense presents Alfred Morris with a chance to break out.
The Bears' porous run defense presents Alfred Morris with a chance to break out.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press/Associated Press

The struggles of Washington's running game have been a lingering storyline all season. The team is 27th in yards per game (94.3) and 26th in yards per attempt (3.7).  

On the road, this picture gets even uglier. In five road games, the Redskins have only managed to churn out 224 yards, at a clip of 2.5 yards per rush.

But while Washington's personnel is culpable for this lackluster production, so too is its opponents. None of its five road opponents rank in the league's bottom third in rushing defense.

This line of thinking is further bolstered by the team's performance against lesser defenses. The Redskins have eclipsed the 100-yard marker five times in 2015. In four of these bouts, their opponent sported a rush defense worse than No. 21.

Enter the Bears. At 127.9 yards per game (29th), Chicago's porous run defense is the elixir to Washington's woes on the ground.

With a rushing attack to pick him up, the Redskins will look for quarterback Kirk Cousins to shake his road struggles.

Cousins has lost nine consecutive road games. Looking specifically at his showing in 2015 away from home, turnovers and bouts of inaccuracy have been his cardinal sins.

His completion percentage drops from 74 percent at home to 61 percent on the road. On the turnover front, eight of his 10 interceptions have come away from FedEx Field.

Yardage will be hard to come by with the Bears sporting the NFL's No. 2 pass defense. At the same token, forcing turnovers isn't a strong suit of their secondary. With just six interceptions on the year, Chicago can only claim to have more interceptions than two teams, the Detroit Lions (5) and Baltimore Ravens (4).

With the Bears content to keep plays in front of their defense, Cousins should be able to operate within his comfort zone in the short-to-intermediate area.

 

Defensive Game Plan

Washington will look to prey on the turnover-prone Cutler.
Washington will look to prey on the turnover-prone Cutler.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press/Associated Press

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry's game plan has to start and end with Jay Cutler. New coaching staff or not, the Bears' success, or lack thereof, is still tied to the enigmatic quarterback.

The team's performance in 2015 speaks to this.

In four of his five losses as the starter, Cutler has thrown at least one interception. On the opposite end, he has 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions in wins.

To insure bad Cutler comes to play, though, Washington needs to remove his safety net, running backs Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford.

Chicago is fifth in the NFL in attempts and 11th in rushing yards. In contrast, the Redskins field the league's No. 25 defense against the run. If there is a slimmer of hope, though, it's in the fact the Bears produce next to no big plays on the ground.

They average 3.8 yards a rush in part because they have just six runs of 20-plus yards and no runs over 40 yards.

With health a lingering issue for Chicago at receiver, the Redskins have to like the chances of their No. 8 pass defense corralling Cutler in the event they can stop the run.

 

Key Players and Matchups

As the team's top corner, Breeland will be tasked with slowing Jeffery.
As the team's top corner, Breeland will be tasked with slowing Jeffery.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

CB Bashaud Breeland vs. WR Alshon Jeffery

Compare the 2014 Bears to the 2015 version and you'll find few recognizable targets for Cutler. Brandon Marshall is gone, and Martellus Bennett is out for the season. 

One prominent face remains, though: Alshon Jeffery. Injuries have docked him five games, but coming in at 6'3" and 216 pounds, he remains a matchup nightmare to cover. 

Having dealt with Dez Bryant the previous week, Bashaud Breeland won't shy away from mixing it up with Jeffery. 

With Jeffery's best work most often occurring downfield, Breeland will have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage to limit his production.

 

Redskins Offensive Line vs. Bears Pass Rush

On paper, this matchup favors Washington. Only four teams have allowed fewer sacks than the Redskins, while Chicago is 20th in sacks (26).

The thing is, this too was the case with Dallas in Week 13. But behind a barrage of blitzes and stunts, the Cowboys pass rush registered three sacks and six quarterback hits.

Cousins, for his part, didn't respond well to the pressure. According to ESPN.com, he was blitzed on 37 percent of his dropbacks, where he proceeded to post a 36 percent completion percentage.

With youth and inexperience being the primary cause for breakdowns in protection, the Redskins have to be prepared for Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio implementing a similar method of attack.

 

Prediction

Washington's woes on the road are well-documented. The team is 1-12 away from FedEx Field under Jay Gruden. And on defense, the team is allowing 32.4 points per game in 2015.

The team's disparity in play is glaring here. But when it comes to forcing turnovers of late, the Redskins have been adept regardless of the locale.

They've forced 10 turnovers the past five games.

By turning over Cutler and protecting the football itself, Washington will end its road losing streak and keep pace in the NFC East.

Final Score: Redskins 21, Bears 20