Team: Chicago Bears
2018 Record: 12-4 (1st, NFC North)
2019 Record: 1-1 (3rd, NFC North)
Outlook: Bolstered by the acquisition of all-everything linebacker Khalil Mack from the Raiders, the 2018 Bears roared to their first NFC North title since 2010. The “double-doink” ended Cody Parkey’s tenure in Chicago and doomed the Bears to a sudden and surprising playoff exit.
With the evolution of Mitchell Trubisky, a clear top-five NFL defense (if not the best defense in the NFL), and a promising rookie runner in David Montgomery to complement Tarik Cohen, Chicago looked like a Super Bowl favorite coming into 2019. In fact, I picked the Bears to win it all.
The results so far have been a little short of that mark. An anemic offense has produced just 19 points in two games. Only a last-second, high-altitude, 53-yard Eddy Pineiro field goal kept the Bears from falling to 0-2.
Instead, 1-1 Chicago invades FedEx Field with a lot of questions about their offense. Most pointedly—is Mitchell Trubisky regressing? He has yet to throw a touchdown pass this year, and his yardage total is only about half of what Case Keenum has generated for the Redskins.
What hasn’t regressed has been the Bears’ stellar defensive unit, boasting Pro Bowlers like Mack, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, and Akiem Hicks. Chicago has allowed a paltry 24 points thus far, including limiting a potent Green Bay team to only 10.
How Worried Should the Redskins Be?: Very worried. Look, until the Redskins manage to win a game, I think we’re stuck between “very worried” and “terrified.” What gives me some hope is that the struggling Bears’ offense could be just what the, uh, struggling Redskins’ defense needs to get back on track.
Offensively, the Redskins have been able to move the ball fairly well against decent-but-unspectacular competition in the first two weeks of the season. The Bears? Well, they are spectacular. This will be, by far, the best defense Washington has faced.
With Trent Williams nowhere in sight, and Jay Gruden maddeningly lamenting the “limits” that having Adrian Peterson in the backfield places on the offense (see my column last week re: bad leadership), it will be up to the Redskins’ offensive line to try to slow the fierce Chicago pass rush. I expect Washington to throw about 75 percent of the time Monday night.
That reminds me—did I mention this game is in prime time? And did I also mention that the Redskins have been, ahem, less-than-stellar in prime time in recent years?
On the other hand, the Bears haven’t beaten Washington in 16 years, believe it or not. The Redskins have won seven straight against Chicago.
But those long-past victories are little cause for hope. Like most of the people reading this, I’m a weary, fatigued Redskin fan who wants to believe they can turn it around. And maybe they’ll find a way to grind out a 17-16 victory or something. It’s possible.
At a certain point, though, you have to accept reality on reality’s terms. As of this writing, the Redskins are a four-point underdog to the Bears. In fact, Washington hasn’t been favored in a game since Week 9 of last year, against the Atlanta Falcons—a game the Redskins wound up losing by 24 points.
That sad streak owes to a couple of factors. One, injuries, which doomed the second half of the Redskins’ 2018 campaign, and seem to pile up for this team faster and more consequentially than for any other franchise. Two, Washington enjoys no home-field advantage, as visiting fans’ prolific incursions into FedEx are well-documented at this point.
In a league built on parity, where the smallest differences are all that separate solid teams from bad ones, it’s almost impossible to win consistently with those two factors in play.
And, so, the Redskins haven’t. Until they correct the fundamental problems that create those issues, they will remain nearly perpetual underdogs.
Well, except against the Dolphins, obviously.
For this week, a win will take a much better showing by Washington’s defense than what we’ve seen so far. The burden of proof rests squarely with the Redskins.
How worried should the Redskins be about the Chicago Bears?
This poll is closed
Not too worried