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Despite the 3-11 record, the Bears have the 9th ranked defense in the league in yards per game and 16th in points per game. What's been the key to the defense this season?
This is year 2 in the Fox/Fangio system. They've been able to add talent to the front 7 to fully make the conversion from 4-3 to 3-4. When healthy, they can stop the run with active ILBs and stout down lineman. The rotation of Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, and rookie Leonard Floyd has been able to get pressure on the quarterback and help out an inexperienced, under-talented secondary. It has been fun to watch the progression of some of the young players like Floyd and Eddie Goldman mix in with actual professional veteran football players like McPhee and Akiem Hicks. The improvement of the Bears defense makes up the bulk of the silver lining in this black cloud of a season. It truly feels like this unit is a year or two away from winning games and getting back to old school Bears football. Look for the Bears to add talent in the back end to try and get there in 2017.
The Redskins defense, on the other hand, has been abysmal this season. What do they need to do against the Bears offense to get a win this Sunday?
This will be a boring answer but win the turnover battle. Barkley is far from a polished product. While he's certainly had some success, he will make bad reads and bad throws. If Washington is able to convert those mistakes into turnovers, the Bears aren't good enough to win games while losing the turnover battle.
Who's the #1 weapon on the Bears' offense that the Redskins need to focus on the most? How might they neutralize him?
Jordan Howard has emerged as the Bears running back of the future. He has already eclipsed 1,000 yards in 12 starts and besides two flops mid-year, he's been consistently good. He has five 100 yard games, 8 runs over 20 yards, and can move the pile on third downs and near the goal line. He's even been fairly effective out of the backfield as a pass catcher, although not in the same league as his predecessor Matt Forte. Howard was something of a steal, selected in the 5th round at pick 150. While I did highlight Howard as the second best rookie running back to take in your fantasy football drafts back in May, I certainly did not envision this level of success, this quickly. I'm not sure how you can neutralize him as he's been very consistent since his mid-year slump. Howard runs with good vision and has shown a veteran's level of patience on many of his runs. Howard has the size to demand multiple tacklers so swarm to the ball and take away his second effort.
Give us one Bear who's disappointed the fan-base this season and one who has been a pleasant surprise.
Just one disappointment? There are a lot of easy answers to that question so I'll pick my biggest personal disappointment in Kevin White. He missed his entire rookie season with a leg injury and followed that up with a new leg injury that took him out of the majority of the year. When he did play, he looked raw and, well, disappointing. For the 7th overall pick, and the first in the Ryan Pace regime, it's been a bitter pill to swallow. The fact that Amari Cooper (4th overall) has been fantastic for the Raiders, Brandon Scherff (5th overall) has played well for your squad and Leonard Williams (6th overall) has been a monster for the Jets, it stings that much more to be on the outside of an impact player.
Despite the 3-11 mark, there have been a number of positive surprises beyond the aforementioned Jordan Howard and Leonard Floyd. Cameron Meredith, second year man out of Illinois State, has stepped into the black hole at wide receiver and turned in consistent, solid football. He catches the ball well and runs good routes and it wouldn't shock me if he turns into the Bears long term WR2 / possession guy.
Who wins the game, why, and what's the score?
I think the Bears match up pretty well with Washington and I think we're in for an entertaining matchup. The Bears have been a surprisingly tough out at home and Matt Barkley has played well. They're salty and a little plucky. I think the Bears sneak this one out in a high score - something like 30-27 - with a big effort from Jordan Howard and Alshon Jeffery.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Five Questions.