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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Bears

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 16, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

Five things you need to know about the Chicago Bears:

1. The Bears decided not to bring back longtime star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher this spring and they made D. J. Williams the starter in his place. Now Williams is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in the Bears’ last game last Thursday night. Rookie Jon Bostic finished up that game and is now the starter. He’s a second-round pick out of Florida so he practiced against Redskins tight end Jordan Reed. Those two should cross paths at least a few times on Sunday.

2. Defensive end Julius Peppers carries a $14.83 million dollar salary cap hit this year, the highest on the team. The return on the Bears’ investment has been one sack and five tackles this year. To be fair, the Bears have been racked by injuries and Peppers is the only one of the four projected starters who playing in his original spot. Still, at age 33 you can’t help but think that time has caught up with the 33-year-old Peppers.

3. This week brings Round 2 of Jay Cutler against the coach who traded up in the 2006 draft in hopes of making him his team’s franchise quarterback. Of course, both Cutler and Mike Shanahan have since left the Broncos. The last meeting was in 2010 and Cutler threw four interceptions, all of them to DeAngelo Hall. The much-maligned 30-year-old signal caller is having a career year so far. He’s on pace to have his most passing yards ever, most touchdowns, and best passer rating and his interception percentage is near his career low for a season. Mark Trestman, his new head coach, appears to have done wonders for Cutler’s career, at least in the first six games.

4. Cutler has four prime pass-catching targets so the Redskins’ coverage will really have to be on point. The leading receiver is another former Shanahan draft picks, Brandon Marshall, who has 40 catches for 465 yards and five touchdowns. But the Redskins can’t focus on him and sleep on wide receiver Alshon Jeffry (29/456/2), tight end Martellus Bennett (31/349/3), or running back Matt Forte (33/244/0).

5. After giving up two long returns to Dwayne Harris last week the Redskins now have the task of trying to stop Devin Hester, one of the best kick returners ever. At age 31 he’s not having a stellar year, with no touchdowns scored. But he is averaging 30.3 years per kickoff return with a long of 80. The Redskins will have to hope that Kai Forbath is able to pound the ball high in the air and deep in the end zone on Sunday.

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Stat of the day

—The Bears are tied for second in the NFL with 17 takeaways (9 interceptions, 8 fumble recoveries). The Redskins have eight takeaways (3 INT, 5 fumbles) 23rd in the league.

Timeline

—Days until: Bears @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Broncos 11; Chargers @ Redskins 18

—Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00 (open to media for first 30 minutes); Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00), available streaming on CSNwashington.com.                                           

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

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Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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