- - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Chicago Bears are well out of the playoff race with a 3-11 record. But that hasn’t stopped the Bears from remaining competitive late in games, losing their last two games by three points each.

“I’m not exactly sure why we always seem to be in a hole sometimes, and finishing close,” Bears quarterback Matt Barkley said, “but it does tell me that we’re not giving up.”

The Redskins will try to avoid an upset against a frisky Bears team at Soldier Field on Saturday to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Bears, of course, will have their own plan to stop Washington. On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Bears coach John Fox said his team will have to keep the Redskins’ offense on the bench.

“They do spread the ball around quite well, so it’s more of a system,” Fox said. “They have reads and progressions. They kind of hit you on all levels, whether it’s quick game ability or intermediate routes. They have play action, big play potential. That makes them difficult to defend.

“You’re really looking to slow them down,” he added. “I’m not sure if you can totally stop them.”

In Chicago’s past two games, the Bears were in contention until surrendering late fourth quarter scores to the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. Against the Packers, Aaron Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson on a 60-yard bomb in the final minute to set up a 32-yard field goal.

The Redskins could capitalize on the Bears’ inability to stop the deep ball with wide receiver DeSean Jackson and quarterback Kirk Cousins. Fox, though, said stopping explosive plays will be a key for his team, pointing to a 61-yard run the Bear also surrendered to Green Bay.

“That’s something that our defensive staff, myself included, talked to our players about,” Fox said. “Again, every week brings new challenges. That’s something we have to improve upon ourselves.”

Part of the Bears’ resurgence late in games, however, has to deal with Barkley. A former third-string quarterback, Barkley has started the last four games this season because of injuries to Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer.

On the season, Barkley has thrown for 1,163 yards for six touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Barkley has watched the Redskins on defense and said that cornerback Josh Norman and pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan have stood out. He said the two have a lot of awareness for where the ball is going.

“We have them highlighted and I have them highlighted in my head,” Barkley said. “Overall, it’s a sound group of guys. It will be interesting to see what the linebacker situation is as we move forward with this week, with who is playing, because that might change things up a bit for us.”

The Redskins have dealt with a variety of injuries at the linebacker position this season. Gruden said Tuesday that linebacker Houston Bates tore his ACL and is out for the season. Gruden said Will Compton (knee) and Su’a Cravens (upper arm) remain day-to-day after missing Monday’s game against Carolina.

In evaluating Washington’s defense, Fox said that the Redskins had the ability to play multiple coverages to get pressure on the quarterback.

“They’re solid upfront,” Fox said. “They have a shutdown corner in Norman. Their safety position is experienced. … All in all, it’s something we’ll have to be ready for. Like every game, it’s about execution.”

The Bears at a glance

Record: 3-11

Points per game: 17.7, ranked No. 29

Opponents points per game: 22.9, ranked No. 16

Touchdowns: 25 (16 passing, 9 rushing)

Opposing touchdowns: 31 (18 passing, 13 rushing)

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the Bears led the Packers in the fourth quarter on Sunday. The teams were tied. 

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