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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, September 22, 2019 1:00 am

Washington might cure Bears' offense

STEPHEN WHYNO | Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. – Mitchell Trubisky wants the Bears to believe this will be the week their struggling offense gets going.

It might actually be that week because Chicago is facing a Washington defense that hasn't been able to stop much of anything.

The Bears (1-1) go into Monday night's matchup with the third-worst offense in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season. Fortunately for them, Washington (0-2) ranks third-worst on defense and are dealing with some key injuries contributing to that disappointing start.

“They got some openings where we could have some success on offense this week,” Trubisky said Thursday. “We've got to believe that this offense can explode at any minute because of the playmakers and the special guys we have in the locker room.”

Chicago's offense has produced just one touchdown through two games — a 1-yard-run by David Montgomery last week — and Trubisky is a combined 42 of 72 for 348 yards and an interception. The 2017 second overall pick is near the bottom of the league at 4.8 yards a completion.

“Right now, it's just about getting into that rhythm and then understanding the execution of the plays,” coach Matt Nagy said. “And us as coaches, too, making sure that we're putting them in optimum position to make the plays with whatever play call is made. We're not running different plays. We're not running anything different than we did last year. It's a long season.”

That's the mantra inside Washington's locker room where injuries to defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and cornerbacks Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar have contributed to them getting worn down as games have gone on.

Coach Jay Gruden said it's not time to panic yet, but the defense underachieving is alarming.

Washington has given up a combined 569 yards in the second half in losses to Philadelphia and Dallas.

“We're struggling a little bit, but it takes time,” defensive tackle Tim Settle said. “The more we work together as a team, the more we progress as a team, the better we're going to get. We're going to get things rolling. It's going to be pretty.”

Some things to watch when the Bears visit the Redskins on Monday night:

Monster defense

Unlike Washington, the Bears' defense is doing just fine. It's ranked fourth in the league and sixth against the run under new coordinator Chuck Pagano after Vic Fangio left to take the Broncos' head coaching job.

“They're physical in the middle and they have speed at linebacker,” Gruden said. “They have good edge play. They have a safety that's a ball hawk. Their corners are pretty good and experienced. They don't really have a weakness in their defense.”

Chicago has seven sacks through two games, two off the league lead.

Keenum in rhythm

Case Keenum won Washington's starting QB job essentially by default because longtime backup Colt McCoy is still injured and first-round pick Dwayne Haskins isn't ready.

But Keenum is far from a problem for Washington, throwing for 601 yards and five touchdown passes with no interceptions.

“I'm well aware of Case Keenum and what he can do,” Nagy said. “He's obviously having a good year right now. Statically he's protecting the football. He's very, very football smart. So his football IQ is high. He gets the ball out.”