Though the Redskins won the Bears game they still saw some major issues that almost lost the game for them. Here are 5 things that went wrong that the Redskins need to get a handle on.
-One could do a “5 Issues on Special Teams from the Bears Game” post, but I’ll just lump them all together here. The special teams were a pretty big failure once again. I know the team is congratulating themselves for giving up only one TD to Devin Hester, but that really isn’t something to celebrate. Punt and kickoff return TD’s are rare, there are maybe 25-30 a year on average, so being content to give up just one is not a good thing. Yes for much of the game they were able to play keep away from Hester, but this is still far from a “win” in that department.
The Redskins were also very close to allowing an onside kick to be recovered in the 4th quarter. The Bears were just barely offsides, otherwise it would have been Bears ball and Chicago could very well be celebrating a win. While it was a “surprise” onside kick, the Redskins should have been ready for it. Chicago was down their quarterback and a number of players on defense, so they were going to try to do anything to get an advantage in the game. The Redskins should not have been shocked that the Bears would try that and their being unprepared almost cost them the game.
The worst part of the Redskins special teams on Sunday though was the return unit. The decision making of Josh Morgan was just horrible. He decided not to fair catch the ball on the 12 yard line and the ball was downed at the one yard line. The Redskins nearly were stopped for a safety due to that, which could have completely changed the momentum of the game. On another return he fair caught it at the 6 instead of trying to let it bounce in for a touch back. His worst mistake though was fumbling the ball on a kick-off, though luckily Niles Paul was able to pick it up. Those are three major mistakes all of which could have led to the Redskins losing the game if one thing went the Bears way. For a guy who didn’t have any positive returns (even if he had it would still be bad) that is completely unacceptable.
-At times the run blocking was strong and it came up big near the goalline, but too often there were plays that were blown up due to missed assignments. Redskins backs were forced to deal with penetration in the backfield that not only led to tackles for a loss, but also meant that they couldn’t consistently hit the hole when and as fast as they wanted. Overall the Redskins running game was strong, but had the line been more consistent the Redskins might have run for 250-300 yards in that game.
The Redskins turned the ball over just one time, but there were a couple of other close calls that could have easily gone another way. In addition to the Josh Morgan fumble on the return, Alfred Morris fumbled on the opening drive. It led to a big loss of yardage, but luckily the Redskins recovered. Griffin had the one interception, but he also had 3 or 4 close calls that almost ended up the other way. Twice linebacker Lance Briggs got his hands on a Griffin ball, and while he didn’t intercept them, it easily could have been. Even Griffin’s big TD throw to Aldrick Robinson could have gone the other way if the safety didn’t get his feet tangled and the corner didn’t misplay the ball. The Redskins can’t be that nonchalant with the ball again or they will surely have more than one turnover.
-The tackling and pursuit angles of this defense continues to be an issue. The Redskins missed 7 tackles against the Bears, and whiffed on others due to poor angles of pursuit. No this isn’t the most talented defensive group, but you can’t be missing 6-12 tackles a game and really expect to come out on top each week. The secondary is responsible for many of these issues, and they don’t seem to be improving. Brandon Meriweather apparently can only make a “tackle” when it is late and to a players head. He missed another tackle against the Bears and took poor pursuit angles on two plays that resulted in big gains after where he should have been. The worst play was when Matt Forte ran for 50 yards after Meriweather allowed him to juke away from him after overcommitting. Hall, Doughty and Amerson also missed tackles and showed poor pursuit for at least one big play.
-The coverage wasn’t as bad as in some the Redskins previous games, but as the Bears game went on it seemed to deteriorate. Early in the game the Redskins contested throws better and it led to some more incomplete passes, but later, Bears receivers were gaining separation or finding the holes in the zone far too easily. The Redskins can’t afford that to continue going forward and they need to tighten up the coverage. No one thinks this is going to be an elite shutdown coverage unit, but they have to stop allowing the easy ones.