- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2015

CHICAGO — Almost every other week, the same question is left unanswered: Why can’t the Washington Redskins win on the road?

Sometimes it’s a flurry of penalties that prevents the offense from getting into a rhythm. Sometimes it’s crippling turnovers. Sometimes the defense fails to execute.

Every time, the result is the same. The Redskins are the only team that has yet to win a game on the road. They’ve lost five road games this season, leaving coach Jay Gruden with a 1-12 record away from FedEx Field in his first two years.

Despite the troubling trend, the Redskins are in a three-way tie for first place in the mediocre NFC East. They can’t ignore the problem much longer. Three of the Redskins‘ final four games are on the road, starting with Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

Washington hosts the Buffalo Bills next week, then will finish the season on the road with division games against Philadelphia and Dallas.



Redskins players are tired of being asked the same question, but the only way to answer it is with a victory on Sunday.

“Me personally, I’m very frustrated,” said nose tackle Terrance Knighton. “I’m tired of hearing about it. I’m hoping as a team, we respond to the challenge of winning on the road because three out of the four of our last ones are on the road. In order to be in the playoffs, where we want to be, we have to win on the road. If we don’t do that, we’ll be in the same position we are last year and talking about next year.”

With that, here’s a look at the logistics for Sunday’s game and three things to watch.

Logistics

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m.

Records: Redskins 5-7, Bears 5-7

Television: Fox (Kenny Albert, play-by-play; Daryl Johnston, color; Laura Okmin, sidelines)

Radio: ESPN 980 (Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen, Chris Cooley, Doc Walker)

Weather: 61 and rainy

Lines: Bears -3.5, over/under 43.5 per Bovada

Projected Starters:

Redskins offense: QB Kirk Cousins, RB Alfred Morris, WR Pierre Garcon, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Jordan Reed, TE Derek Carrier, LT Trent Williams, LG Spencer Long, C Josh LeRibeus, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses.

Redskins defense: DE Chris Baker, NT Terrance Knighton, DE Ricky Jean Francois, OLB Trent Murphy, ILB Will Compton, ILB Mason Foster, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, CB Will Blackmon, CB Bashaud Breeland, SS DeAngelo Hall, FS Dashon Goldson.

Bears offense: QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, WR Alshon Jeffrey, WR Eddie Royal, TE Zach Miller, TE Rob Housier, LT Charles Leno, LG Matt Slauson, C Hronnis Grasu, RG Patrick Omameh, RT Kyle Long.

Bears defense: DE Mitch Unrein, NT Eddie Goldman Hayden, DE Jarvis Jenkins, OLB Sam Acho, ILB Shea McClellin, ILB Christian Jones, OLB Willie Young, CB Tracy Porter, CB Kyle Jones, S Chris Prosinski, S Adrian Amos.

Injury report:

Redskins: Out: ILB Perry Riley (foot), RB Chris Thomson (shoulder), SS Jeron Johnson (hamstring); Questionable — DE Jason Hatcher (neck/ankle), ILB Keenan Robinson (shoulder), TE Derek Carrier (ankle), WR Andre Roberts (knee); Probable — ILB Will Compton (shoulder), CB DeAngelo Hall (toe), CB Deshazor Everett (hamstring), CB Quinton Dunbar (finger), FS Dashon Goldson (wrist/hamstring/knee).

Bears: Out — WR Marquess Wilson (foot); Doubtful — ILB Pernell McPhee (knee), Questionable — S Antrel Rolle (knee), OLB Sam Acho (shoulder), TE Zach Miller (knee), CB Tracy Porter (ankle), WR Eddie Royal (knee), CB Bryce Callahan (knee); Probable — ILB Shea McClellin (ankle).

Stats:

All-time record: The Redskins are 24-23-1 against the Bears.

Last regular-season meeting: Oct. 20, 2013: 45-41 win at FedEx Field.

Three things to watch:

** In five games on the road, quarterback Kirk Cousins has completed 62 percent of his passes, five touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 69.8 passer rating. In seven games at home, he’s completed 74 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 111.5 passer rating? Which Cousins shows up against the Bears? That greatly depends on what his playmakers can do around him. Cousins’ decision-making has gotten remarkably better throughout the season. He has 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in his last six games. While he’s been efficient, he is not yet at the point where he can carry the offense completely. For starters, it will help if the running game can average more than 2.8 yards per carry. If the offense gets gummed up like it did most of last week against Dallas, Cousins will have to move the offense on his own.

** In Mason Foster’s first start with the Redskins, one thing stood out. The guy can tackle. The inside linebacker had seven tackles against Dallas last week, tied for the team lead with inside linebacker Will Compton and the Redskins need more of that on Sunday. The Bears have two very good running backs in veteran Matt Forte and rookie Jeremy Langford. The duo rushed for 143 yards last week against the 49ers and tackling will be key on Sunday if the Redskins‘ defense wants to avoid the same fate. When the Redskins signed Foster this season, he had 343 tackles in four seasons. In his first start against the Cowboys, his pursuit was most impressive, especially when he chased down Darren McFadden to force a fumble.

** How will the Redskins start against the Bears? In Washington’s last two road games, it trailed 48-17 at halftime. Sure, the opponents were tough in games against Carolina and New England — but the Redskins have not started well on the road this season, dating back to the first of the season against the New York Giants when they trailed 15-6 at the half. A fast start will be key on Sunday, especially after last week’s 19-16 loss to the Cowboys.

“For us, as coaches, to make sure we just try to keep grinding on them and keep trying to get the energy level up,” coach Jay Gruden said. “But I think these guys are in a good state of mind right now. Everybody’s still a little disappointed and sick feeling over that Dallas game Monday night — a chance to show people what we were made of and we didn’t do so much, didn’t do a very good job of that. I think we’re eager and that’s the good thing about football, man. This stage of the year, you don’t play very well, you have a chance the next week to redeem yourself and get yourself back in the position you want to be.”

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