What to watch for in Bears-Redskins on Monday night

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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A trip to the nation's capital concludes Week 3 of the NFL slate.

Off to a dismal 0-2 start that's hardly inspired confidence going forward, the Washington Redskins host a Chicago Bears squad looking to improve on a 1-1 record as it clings to Super Bowl hopes and is led by a dominant defense.

With game-changers Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd leading the way for the Bears, this has all the makings of a showcase game for Chicago, but recent history might lean toward another narrative.

The Redskins have prevailed in the past seven games between the teams and coach Jay Gruden is 2-0 against Chicago. With an offense missing its best player (left tackle Trent Williams is still holding out) and a defense underperforming, at least the numbers could favor Washington.

Early as it might be, this is a crucial game for both teams, as the Redskins are aiming to avoid being washed away into an afterthought as a 0-3 start can do, and the Bears are looking to show they are, indeed, one of the best in the NFL.

1. Can Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears' offense remedy their ills?


So far so stagnant has been the tale of the Bears offense.

Through two games, the Bears have scored nary 19 points with only six coming on a trip into the end zone.

Once the biggest offseason question, kicker Eddy Pineiro has been just about the only answer for Chicago's offensive ineptitude, though a knee injury could muddy those waters.

It's very much time for Trubisky and the Bears offense to show they can be a viable compliment to an outstanding defense that can only do so much for a team still trying to maintain its status as a Super Bowl hopeful.

Uplifting news comes in facing a Redskins defense (see below) that has been likewise underwhelming and allowed more than 30 points in each of the first two weeks.

While Trubisky has struggled (348 yards in two games with no TDs, one interception, 65.0 passer rating) to a woeful extent, the offense overall must show improvement. Through two games, rookie David Montgomery is the team-high rusher with only 80 yards and scored the team's bright, shiny and only touchdown. The dynamic Tarik Cohen (74 scrimmage yards) has hardly been a factor, receiver Allen Robinson fell off after a 100-yard opener, Cordarrelle Patterson has done little as coach Matt Nagy has tried to creatively involve him, and Anthony Miller has just one catch on just two targets.

It starts with Trubisky, but it ends with everyone on the offense getting involved. And with a second prime-time game in three weeks, the Bears' offense has long been lost in the shadow of its defense, but more than ever needs to shine under the lights.

2. Is this as good as it gets for the Redskins' defense?


There were questions aplenty coming into the season regarding the Redskins offense, with quarterback Alex Smith likely done for the year, Case Keenum coming in via trade and Dwayne Haskins the first-round hopeful. The running game is and was a bit murky and Williams' holdout isn't going away.

It was the defense that was supposed to lead Washington, though. So far, that's hardly been the story. With only two sacks, the Redskins are second-to-last in that category and hovering around the bottom in just about every key defensive stat: total defense (30th), scoring (T30th), rushing (31st) and on and on.

Talent is abundance with standouts such as Ryan Kerrigan, Josh Norman, Landon Collins and Montez Sweat. But it's time for the Redskins' D to start playing to its potential, especially considering it's going up against a Bears offense struggling just as much.

3. Khalil Mack is every bit the game-wrecker you remember


Khalil Mack, terrorizer of quarterbacks, nightmare to offensive lineman, pillager of game plans, is still Khalil Mack. Sure, he has but one sack in two games, but offenses are doing everything they can to stop him -- and the rest of a very talented defense -- from leading the way for a unit that's allowed just a touchdown in each game.

Mack, according to Next Gen Stats, has a league-leading 13 quarterback pressures, so he's still very much the destroyer that breathed life and experience into a young, but talented Bears defense a season ago.

Kicking conundrums and offensive woes have colored Bears headlines from the offseason up until Monday night for the Bears. Somehow the defense has been somewhat overlooked or perhaps more accurately taken for granted. And Mack, the face of the new-age Monsters of the Midway, is emblematic of that. So far, the Bears defense is as advertised even though the team is 1-1.

4. Despite solid play, when will Case be moved for Haskins?


As Week 3 dawned, 20 of the 32 starting quarterbacks were 26-years-young or younger -- the most in a single week in the Super Bowl era. That statistic includes 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen getting his first start in Miami and 2019 first-round selection Daniel Jones starting a new era up in New York. It does not include Haskins, who the Redskins used the No. 15 pick in 2019 on.

Along with the Redskins' dismal start has come a groundswell to see the the hopeful future face of the franchise, Haskins.

As long as the struggles continue in D.C., so too will the clamoring to see the Ohio State product take the reins.

It's unfortunate and likely unwarranted considering Keenum has performed admirably. Over two contests, he's thrown for 601 yards at a 69.1 percent clip with five touchdowns to no interceptions. Hardly the numbers of someone who should be headed to the bench.

But if Keenum struggles in front of the home crowd, it wouldn't be shocking to see Haskins make his first appearance during the regular season. Then again, debuting your top pick against an often ferocious Bears defense might be a questionable move for any rookie's confidence.

Whether Keenum's trip to the pine is warranted or not, Haskins' debut is a storyline to watch and could happen as soon as Monday.

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