Welcome, Redskins fans, to another week and another interview with an opposing team's featured columnist. If you have been following me over the past few weeks, you know exactly how this works. If you are new to the game, then here is a quick overview of what is about to happen.
I do an interview with an opposing team's featured columnist and ask questions that Redskins fans should look for in the upcoming matchup.
This week Bears featured columnist Bryan Dietzler was gracious enough to answer some questions for me and joined in on this little project. For all your Bears news and to see my answers for his questions, please check out his Website by clicking his name above.
This week's interview is about to begin:
Brandon Keener—The Bears have been hammered by injury the past few weeks. How are Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Jay Cutler doing and do you see them being able to play this weekend and/or having big games?
Bryan Dietzler— Lance Briggs should be the only one in question this week with his ankle injury. Right now it appears as if the Bears may hold him out of this game and give him time to heal since the bye week is next week. If he doesn’t play, then linebacker Brian Iwuh will start. Iwuh had a pretty decent game against the Seahawks this Sunday, but the Bears will sure miss Briggs if he can’t play, especially against the run.
Brian Urlacher appears to be to be a little sore, but his injury isn’t going to keep him out of any game unless it gets worse. He did look a little “off” playing this Sunday (he was pushed around a bit by the Seahawks offensive linemen), but he’s still playing better than most middle linebackers in the NFL. He’s a lock to start on Sunday.
If the Redskins try to run the ball a lot (and I assume that they will), look for Urlacher to be a big part of the effort to stop them. You should hear his name called many times on Sunday, especially if Briggs is out.
Jay Cutler will start and hopefully play much better in this game. The Redskins pass defense isn’t that solid, so if Cutler can get some protection and get time to throw, he could have a big game. Of course those are big ifs!
The Bears have to do something to get the ball down the field, score points and convert third downs. They have to get that passing game going as well because they aren’t willing to commit to the run, so Cutler has a lot of work to do.
Cutler could have a big game if all of those things go right for him on Sunday.
BK —Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are two very speedy wide receivers. The Redskins secondary has had problems with speedy receivers early in the season. Do you anticipate the deep ball to be thrown early and often?
BD—You ask a very good question here. The first thing these two guys need to do is get the ball. As I mentioned earlier, the Bears have a lot of trouble just passing the ball because of the lack of protection that Cutler has had in recent games. He has trouble getting the ball to his wide receivers, so it’s hard to say if these two guys will have a big game. If the pass rush doesn’t get to him quickly, there is a chance he could connect with Hester and Knox.
If those two guys get the ball in their hands, then the Redskins secondary is going to have problems. We have seen what they can do after the catch, so the Redskins secondary is going to have to try to lock those guys down so that they don’t get any long gains.
BK—Chester Taylor appeared to play well against the Seahawks. So who is going to get the bulk of the carries against the Redskins? Chester Taylor or Matt Forte?
BD—The Bears have had some problems running the ball as of late, but that’s definitely not because of a lack of talent. They just don’t run the ball as often as they should. I think that you will see Forte run the ball first and hopefully much more often in this game to soften up the Redskins defense and allow Cutler some time to throw the ball.
I would look for Taylor to come in on third downs to either act as an outlet receiver for Cutler or to stay in and block. When he was in Minnesota, Taylor was an excellent blocker on passing downs, and they could really use his help when Cutler is going back to pass.
So I believe Forte will see the bulk of the carries in this game with Taylor running to spell him on ever third series, but it’s possible they will give Taylor a bigger look in helping to block for the passing game so that would put him on the field a lot.
BK —The Redskins running game has shown that they can move the ball effectively against a 4-3 defense like the Colts saw last weekend. What is the Bears defense first concern about the running game, and how will they approach it?
BD—I think that the Bear’s first focus on the running game this Sunday is whether or not they will have Briggs back in the lineup. Briggs is an important part of their rush defense, and as we saw this past Sunday, without him they do suffer. However, if Briggs is back the Bears will have a great chance of stopping the Redskins rushing attack.
If he isn’t in the lineup the Bears will rely, once again, on Iwuh to start. Iwuh is a great athlete and a decent linebacker, but he hasn’t started nearly enough games (as Briggs) and isn’t quite the run stopper that Briggs is.
The Bears defense will probably concentrate more on stopping the run in this case knowing the problems that they had against the Seahawks, so look for the Bears to make a strong and concerted effort to stop the run in this game.
BK—Devin Hester is always tough to kick to, whether on kickoffs or punt returns. Washington is developing someone like him in Brandon Banks. How is the defensive side of the Bears return game? Have then been able to stop punt returns and kick returns well this season?
BD—Admittedly, the Bears started off the season a little shaky on the defensive side of the return game. They allowed some pretty long returns in the first two games of the season, including a punt return for a touchdown in the Dallas game, but since then they have tightened things up and are playing very well.
Chicago did a good job of containing two of the top special teams players in the NFL, Leon Washington and Golden Tate, this past Sunday and should be able to handle what Brandon Banks brings to the table. Look for the Bears to be able to stop him from getting any big gains in this game.
So, Skins fans, what does this equal?
The Redskins are going up against a Bears defense that has tightened up a lot since the beginning of the season, but they may be missing a key piece of their puzzle in Lance Briggs. The Redskin running game's success essentially relies on Briggs not being able to play.
Do not expect too many big returns from Brandon Banks on Sunday because the Bears were able to stop Leon Washington and Golden Tate last week pretty well.
Overall, the Redskins need to focus on closing in on the ball. Stopping the early Matt Forte rush and keeping Johnny Knox and Devin Hester from taking more than a few steps after they catch the pass is key.
Either way the matchup on Sunday will be a good one to watch, and Skins fans should expect another close game. See you on Sunday!