- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2013

Five questions Redskins beat writer Brian McNally has heading into Washington’s Sunday afternoon game against the Chicago Bears:

Do the Redskins fix their beleaguered special teams?

There’s no getting around it. That unit cost Washington the game against Dallas with two long returns allowed, including a touchdown, and five penalties. It also lost two key players (Bryan Kehl, Nick Sundberg) to injury for the season. The Bears aren’t much better overall, but they do have return ace Devin Hester, who has 18 career special teams touchdowns and 575 yards on kickoffs alone this year.

How do Washington’s defensive backs handle Chicago’s big receivers?

The Bears‘ top three receivers are 6-4 Brandon Marshall, 6-3 Alshon Jeffery and 6-6 tight end Martellus Bennett. The Redskins don’t have the size to match them. Then again, top corner DeAngelo Hall has played well against Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant already this season and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett praised the versatility of Josh Wilson, a corner who’s been used all over the field so far. His tip of a Tony Romo pass last week led to an interception.

Does Washington solve its red-zone struggles?

This is crucial. Yes, special teams cost them the Dallas game and the defense failed to hold a few times when it had the chance. But none of that matters for the Redskins if Robert Griffin III can’t get his team into the end zone a few times. Settling for field goals three times inside the 20 and another interception from the 23 allowed the Dallas game to get away.

Are the Bears now worried about Griffin’s running ability?

An absurd question last season — yes, duh — but through the first four weeks Griffin lacked explosiveness and had just 72 rushing yards. But he posted 77 against Dallas and took advantage several times by stepping up into the pocket and sensing space, including a big 26-yard run in the third quarter. The further he gets from that knee injury, the better he looks athletically. Chicago is on alert.

Can Redskins offensive line keep Bears defensive lineman Julius Peppers in check?

This task will fall primarily to left tackle Trent Williams, but Peppers, 33, isn’t what he once was with just one sack on the season. Then again, Washington struggled at times to keep Dallas’ injury-riddled, makeshift line off Griffin last week. This isn’t the time to let Peppers, with 112.5 career sacks, off the mat.

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