Hog Heaven has to write about Redskins-Bears. There is good news at the end of this post like light at the end of the tunnel. We have to speak some truth before getting there.
It's been tough to write about The Redskins after the Cowboys game. We would have been forced to write about what's wrong with the team.
Perhaps you were in the same snit.
Blog readers don't want to read what's wrong with the team. They want to read what's right with it. That would have been a short article. Here's what we would have said.
We would have written that Washington has a good running game that seems to be coming back into form. Our top three rushers are averaging 4.4 yards per attempt or better. That's bound to lead to better results if only by keeping special teams on the bench.
Rob Jackson returned. He intercepted Tony Romo in his first appearance this season, the same as he did in his first appearance last season. Jackson had five interceptions in 2012. We welcome his return and we expect the same of him.
The Redskins dominated in yards, third-down conversions and time of possession.
The defense held the Cowboys' offense to 213 yards. Cowboys return specialist Dwayne Harris had more yards than that.
That was all we could say for what went right against Dallas. Sigh.
The Redskins were on the short end of two of the three stats worth watching.
Robert Griffin III's passer rating was 14 points lower than Romo's.
The Redskins were -1 in turnovers.
Washington did convert 50 percent of their third-down attempts and they controlled the clock. That only proves that certain stats don't matter. Teams lose if they do not win two of the three stats that matter. The Dallas loss was no surprise. Next up...
Three stats worth watching
Passer Rating Differential
Chicago, Jay Cutler ‒ 95.2
Washington, Robert Griffin III ‒ 80.4
Cutler has a beast of a receiver in Brandon Marshall. Everyone after is ordinary. Still, Cutler managed 12 touchdown passes in six games. RB Matt Forte is a duel threat running and receiving out of the backfield.
RGIII has been inconsistent as he rehabs his knee on the run and while he hones NFL quarterback skills. His passer rating dropped from a season high of 104.2 against the Packers to 58.3 against the Cowboys. More worrisome is the steady decline of his pass completion rate. It hit a low of 48.7 percent against the Cowboys amid signs that Griffin and the Redskins receivers, who as a group haven't helped enough, are not connecting in more ways than one.
I suspect the coaches now have his attention.
Most fans, me included, believe that III will explode one of these days. However, we are reaching a point when we cannot dismiss his performance to "rust."
Third Down Stops
Chicago converts 37 percent of its third down attempts.
Washington converts 36 percent of its third down attempts.
Chicago's opponents convert 43 percent of third down attempts.
Washington's opponents convert 37 percent of third down attempts.
Ah, a rare area of opportunity for the Redskins. If the hapless Giants can convert 63 percent if their third downs against these guys, surely the Redskins can do the same.
Turnovers are Hog Heaven's biggest concern. The Redskins, Griffin in particular, protected the ball to an exceptional degree last year. I expected a conservative game plan during with RGIII's recovery with a premium on protecting the ball. The game plan was there. Execution was poor.
Washington's performance is not acceptable.
Lets mention special teams here. The long returns that the Washington allowed last Sunday were the equivalent of two turnovers. The Bears won't need a turnover if the Redskins allow Devin Hester to do what Dwayne Harris did.
These stats help frame a game prediction, but each game is its own story.
The Bears' past performance point to a win in Washington. The stats that matter are predictive only if the trend unfolds that way in a game. Winning any two of these stat battles will lead to winning the game.
Quality of loss
Hog Heaven says the Redskins have four more losses to give before they are out of the playoff hunt. There is a gotcha. All of Washington's losses have been to division/conference rivals. Those are poor quality losses. The 'Skins can only afford one or two more of those before tiebreakers loom.
The Redskins are 1.5-point underdogs according to sportsbook bovada.lv.
The Hog Heaven Magic 8-Ball
The 8-Ball is 1-1 on calls for the season. It was 7-1 on calls last season. Asked if the Redskins will beat the Bears, the 8-Ball replied, "Most likely."
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