One of the two teams will come away with their second win of the season as the 1-4 Washington Redskins travel to Soldier Field to face the 1-3 Chicago Bears. Here are some of the game's key player match-ups:
Thomas Jones vs. Marcus Washington
By Dan Hines
This week’s match-up features the NFC 6th leading rusher, Thomas Jones (364 yards on 79 carries,4.6 avg.) going up against Marcus Washington and the NFL’s #2 rushing defense.
Jones was brought in (from Tampa) by new head coach Lovie Smith to compete with Anthony Thomas for the starting running back job. Jones is a threat to go all the way anytime he touches the ball. Jones is also among the league leaders in receptions with 21 for 156 yards. With starting QB Rex Grossman on the shelf, look for the Bears and backup QB Jonathan Quinn to get the ball to Jones early and often.
Marcus Washington continues to impress. He leads the team in tackles with 29. Marcus will get plenty of help up front stuffing Jones and the Bears rushing attack. Where Marcus will earn his money on Sunday is in pass coverage, he must be aware of Jones’ pass catching ability out of the backfield.
With the exception of Ravens (in the second half of their game with the Skins) no team has been able to establish the run against the Redskins defense. Look for that trend to continue on Sunday, forcing Quinn to use the short passing game. Marcus has excellent pass coverage skills and should be able to limit Jones and the Bears offense. The key will be stopping the Bears on first and second down leaving them in a third and long situation for most of the day.
Advantage - Washington
Ray Brown vs. Adewale Ogunleye
By Scott Hurrey
Ogunleye is one of the best young defensive ends in football. After entering the NFL as an un-drafted free agent out of Indiana, he has quickly found success in the NFL ranks. In 2002, he spent the year as a reserve and recorded 9.5 sacks. In 2003, Ogunleye led the AFC in sacks and tied Simeon Rice for second in the league with 15 sacks, earning his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Ogunleye is a good run stopper, but his bread and butter is his ability to pressure the opposing quarterback. He basically is able to generate pressure with his two favorite moves. Ogunleye uses the outside speed rush that former Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith made a career out of, or he uses Reggie White’s patented “hump move”, which consists of establishing a low center of gravity and good leverage and then maneuvering his hand under the tackles armpit, using the tackles own weight to lift him off the ground and throw him up field.
Ray Brown is as old school as it gets. The 41-year-old Tackle was signed in the preseason to fill the leadership void left when Jon Jansen suffered a season-ending injury in the first pre-season game of the year. The 19-year veteran quickly found himself thrust into the starting line-up in week 2, when Kenyatta Jones suffered an ankle injury in week one’s victory over Tampa Bay. In week two the 2001 Pro Bowler held Michael Strahan without a sack.
Brown has lasted 19 seasons in the NFL, not because he is the best offensive lineman in the league, but because he is very consistent. He has played for some of the best offensive line coaches in the league and uses those experiences to his advantage. He is known as a powerful run blocker and an excellent pass protector that uses good leverage and strength to make holes in the running game and keep the quarterback upright in the passing game.
This match-up is the epitome of a great match-up. We will see speed vs. power, the experienced veteran vs. the athletic up-and-comer. Ogunleye only has 1 sack s far this season, and still hasn’t proved how much of his success was attributed to being on the other side of the line from Jason Taylor. This will be a close match-up, and the more experienced player usually wins close match-ups.
Advantage - Ray Brown
RB Clinton Portis v. LB Brian Urlacher
By Fran Farren
It is no secret that the play of Clinton Portis has been somewhat of a disappointment this season for Redskins fans. Ever since the electrifying "first touch" for a touchdown, Portis' numbers have been mediocre at best. His fumbles have also certainly not helped this team. Will he be able to get on track this week versus the Bears?
Not if you ask LB Brian Urlacher, who will be returning to the lineup this week after recovering from a right hamstring injury. Urlacher initially pulled his hamstring on the first day of training camp. After missing the entire preseason, he played in the first two regular season games and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after registering 14 tackles and
forcing a fumble that Mike Brown returned 95 yards for a TD in a stunning Week 2 victory at Green Bay. A few days later, however, Urlacher aggravated the injury and missed the next two games against the Vikings and the Eagles.
Ironically, the Bears rushing defense functioned fairly well both with and without Urlacher. In the first two weeks of the season, with Urlacher, the Bears gave up a total of 229 yards on the ground with no touchdowns. In the next two weeks, without Urlacher, the Bears gave up a total of 247 yards on the ground and one touchdown. Thus far, the Bears are giving up an
average of 119 yards rushing per game.
As this season progresses, the Redskins faithful hope and prey that the Redskins will slowly learn Joe Gibbs football. With the trouble Mark Brunell is having, don't be surprised if you see the Redskins focus more on the running game this week, hoping that Urlacher isn't fully healed from his injury. Look for Portis to get between 20-25 carries this week for 80-90
yards. It certainly won't be a "stellar" day for Portis; however, it should be an improvement on previous games.