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Redskins' 3-4 Is Ready For a Test

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The Redskins' defense, ranked 32nd in the NFL in yards allowed through Week 6, continues to face scrutiny for the decision to switch to a 3-4 this year.

Thing is, the last two weeks the defense has hardly played the 3-4, coaches say.

In games against pass-happy Green Bay and Indianapolis, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett says he has used more 4-3 looks and has employed five to six defensive backs.

The Redskins allowed 427 total yards to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in an overtime victory on Oct. 10 and 469 total yards to Peyton Manning and the Colts in a 3-point loss last week.

This Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears should be a better barometer of the Redskins' 3-4, Haslett said.

"I think this team will come out and give us a good indication of where we're at," he said.

Through six weeks, the Redskins' defense is allowing 420 yards per game, including 298.2 yards through the air.

However, the defense is allowing 19.8 points per game, a mark that is 14th-best in the league.

For now, coaches are paying more attention to that stat line.

"Nobody wants to be last in the league in yardage, but there are a lot of circumstances that play into it," Haslett said. "We've played some pretty good football teams this year. We've had two overtime games that add to your yardage. We've played some pretty good quarterbacks. Plus it's a new defense.

"Now you can make up a million different excuses, and no one is happy with [yardage allowed], obviously. But the most important thing to me, to be honest with you, is the wins and losses. We have three wins. We're still in the hunt."

The Bears, ranked 29th in total offense, run a more conventional offense than the Packers and Colts, although offensive coordinator Mike Martz certainly adds his own twists.

Running back Matt Forte leads the ground game with 311 yards and three touchdowns. He also leads the team with 21 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

The offensive line has struggled to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, though.

The Bears have started four different offensive lines in six games and Cutler has been sacked a league-high 23 times.

"Their line has been struggling a little bit because they have been changing guys in and out," Haslett said. "This will be the second week in a row that they have the same five [offensive linemen]. That should help them."

Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo, Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter should have an opportunity to be disruptive forces when Cuter drops back to pass.

When Cutler has time to throw the ball, he can be dangerous, Haslett added.

"They have speed at receivers," he said. "Devin Hester is scary with the ball. Johnny Knox is scary with the ball. And Jay can throw it a mile. He can throw it 65 yards flat-footed. So they have a good vertical passing game."

The Bears have played two defenses that run a 3-4 this season and won both games. In Week 2, they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 27-20. A week later, they beat the Green Bay Packers 20-17.

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