Four Downs: Keys to beating the Redskins (12/13/15)

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A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Washington Redskins.

1. Control the clock with the run game

The Bears did exactly as they should have last week against the 49ers in at least one aspect: they rushed the ball against a bad run defense for 170 yards. They had a 20-13 first down advantage. They dominated time of possession by almost a quarter. The Bears can do almost the same this week against a Redskins defense that is 25th in the league against the run. I’m liking not only the duo of Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford, but the trio with Ka’Deem Carey thrown in on select plays has been a success as well. The Redskins have a dangerous duo of running backs in Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, and you can bet that they’ll be trying to run the same game plan, so it’s up to the Bears to keep possession.

2. Finish drives, finish the game

Continuing from the previous key, if the Bears did so much correctly in controlling the clock and the tempo of the game, how did they not win? Well, among other reasons, they did not finish. They didn’t finish drives with touchdowns and they didn’t finish the game on defense — allowing Blaine Gabbert to run for a 44-yard touchdown — or on special teams — Robbie Gould’s missed field goal. It’s simple execution, and the Bears, despite a strong start, failed in the end.

3. Defend the middle of the field against Jordan Reed

The Redskins like to utilize the versatility of tight end Jordan Reed, who leads the team with 58 receptions for 574 yards and 6 touchdowns. Washington can line him up in different places on the field, whether at the end of the offensive line, tucked in the slot, or split out wide, and he creates matchup problems for all sorts of personnel. He’s too fast for linebackers and too strong for defensive backs.

4. Create chaos in the opposing backfield

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is 12th in the league in passing yards, 17th in passing touchdowns, and 21st in passer rating. He’s played steady and solid at times but has looked very pedestrian at other times. He’s thrown 10 interceptions this season, tied for 11th-most in the league. Where Cousins struggles — like most quarterbacks, really — is when he’s got pressure in his face and can’t step into his throws. The Bears need their pass rush to, minimally, move Cousins off his spot and disrupt the timing of pass plays.

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