There was some good news among the challenges for the Washington Commanders in their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend. One bright light was the play of second-year quarterback Sam Howell.
Eric Bieniemy’s new attacking strategy seemed like a breath of fresh air. It’s worth noting that Washington also had no turnovers, but the team’s emphasis on short throws, shifting pockets, and the run game looked to be a rather drastic change from the week prior’s blowout defeat to Buffalo. Without those five giveaways, it’s harder to maintain a quick and effective offensive.
On defense, though, things were different.
Selling out seemed like a good plan for stopping the Eagles’ running attack, so head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio implemented it. That resolved the issue. D’Andre Swift, the Eagles’ rushing back, had rushed for over 300 yards in his previous two games, but the Washington defense held him to only 56 yards.
Unfortunately for the Commanders, Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts was able to defeat them from the pocket, as was the goal. The one change that may have made a difference would have been to assist rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes or at least shift his focus away from Eagles star wide receiver A.J. Brown. He was the game’s clear-cut MVP after catching nine passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Fans of the Commanders can only hope that Brown will use his humiliation of Forbes as a learning lesson.
There is good news coming for Washington now, and that is facing the struggling Chicago Bears. Here are some details you need to know about the game:
1- The Chicago Bears have allowed just two sacks this season. The total is two in the last four games. The strain that has been building on Howell thus far this season should ease somewhat when the Bears come to town.
2- In Washington’s two victories this year, defensive end Montez Sweat has recorded three sacks, which is a kind of pressure. Sweat has not contributed to either of Washington’s two defeats this year. It’s the kind of evening that calls for a sweatsack.
3- Although the “battle black” outfits the commanders will be wearing look fantastic, the all-black performance has been less than stellar. The commanders have a 1-2 punch in their ensemble.
4- Washington has a 23-21-1 overall record versus Chicago and is 2-0 all-time against the Bears on Thursday night.
5- Only the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers have yet to record a victory in the NFL this season.
6- Howell was a star back on the collegiate level, but he only had five rushes in the Commanders’ first three games. Howell carried the ball six times last week against the Eagles, which was easily his greatest game as a professional. The young quarterback will likely run the ball more often.
7- Despite having the 21st-best scoring offense in the NFL, Chicago’s defense is second-worst in points allowed (31st). It’s not much better in Washington. The Commanders’ offense is 17th, while their defense is 29th in points allowed.
8- Wide receiver D.J. Moore, a graduate of the University of Maryland, is Chicago’s most dangerous offensive weapon. Through four games, Moore has 24 catches. Washington’s wideout group consists of Curtis Samuel (20), Jahan Dotson (25), and Terry McLaurin (26). Dotson and Samuel were listed as questionable on this week’s injury report, but both are expected to play against the Bulls.
9- Brian Robinson, a running back with the Commanders, has rushed for 262 yards on 62 attempts, enough for 13th in the NFL. He is just behind Christian McCaffrey (23) in rushes that result in first downs (20).
10- Howell has been sacked 24 times, which is the most in the NFL, and has lost 156 yards as a result. Bears quarterback Justin Fields has taken 17 sacks for 116 lost yards this season. With 17 sacks, they are third in the NFL.