After suffering one of the most embarassing losses in recent franchise history, the Redskins will try to rcover from the 27-0 drubbing at the hands of the Cowboys to face the Chicago Bears. Chicago is coming off of an emotional 13-10 victory last week over the Vikings. Here are some key player match-ups:
Take a good look at Champ Bailey the last two games of the season Ė they could well be his last as a Redskin. Bailey, who was voted to another pro bowl in the last week, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and the smoke signals from both sides are that it is far from certain if a deal will get done. While Bailey has not had his best year, he is still one of the bet cover corners in the NFL. Every week he is matched with the opposition's top receiver and most weeks he just about shuts him down. If he does go, he will be missed.
This week he will likely be matched with Chicago's Marty Booker. Booker is a 5 year vet who was drafted from a smaller college and took a little time to settle in the NFL. He had his break out season in 2001 with 100 catches and followed that up last year with 97 and over 1100 yards. At 6-0 210 he is a physical receiver with good but not great speed and good hands. His production this year has been hurt by the spotty performance of the Bears offense and the inconsistency of production from the QB position.
Bailey matches up well physically and in terms of speed with Booker. The Bears will do well to look away from Bailey for passing yards Sunday.
In a dismal season, many Redskins fans are likely finding it difficult to look for any positives on this Redskins team. Everywhere you look, it seems like players arenít giving 100% or theyíre talking about why other players wouldnít want to play here in D.C. or they making it quite clear that they donít want to stay around. I wonít mention any names, Champ, but itís refreshing to see a player do the job that is asked of him and play hard each and every week.
One such player is Randy Thomas. Although part of a much-maligned offensive line, Thomas has been the bright spot on the O-line and has played consistently throughout the season, doing a good job both run blocking and pass protecting. When everyone else on the offensive line was committing penalties, Thomas was quietly doing his job, and doing it well. Thomas has developed into a solid cog in the offensive line machine and, hopefully, he will continue to improve as this line plays together longer.
This week, Thomas will be looking across the line at Keith Traylor. A large specimen weighing in a 340 lbs., Traylorís role is simply to stand up and block the rushing lane (he is not relied on very much by the Bears to tackle...having only 15 tackles thus far this year). Traylorís value is, simply put, taking up space. Traylor will attempt to use his size, outweighing Thomas by about 30 lbs., to disrupt a Redskins rushing attack that has been fairly successful in recent weeks. Thomas is surprisingly quick in his 300+ lb. frame and should have no problems taking Traylor out of the game.
This week, look for Thomas to handle Traylor fairly easily and open up big holes for the rushing game. If the Redskins stick with the ground attack a little longer this week, Thomas and Co. will have a pretty good day.