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Need to Know: Monday's result says the Redskins have a chance vs. Panthers

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Need to Know: Monday's result says the Redskins have a chance vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 18, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

—If anyone thinks that the Redskins can’t win this game, may I direct your attention to the result of the game played on Monday night in Cincinnati. The Texans were double-digit underdogs and beat the undefeated Bengals 10-6. Yes, they got some help from the Bengals, particularly in the form of turnovers and dropped passes. The Redskins will probably need some help if they are gong to pull off the upset but it can be done.

—As noted here a few days ago, Kirk Cousins just has one interception in the last 13 quarters of play and that one pick, which bounced out of the hands of Pierre Garçon and into those of a Patriots defender, clearly was not his fault. His ball protection skills will be tested on Sunday as Carolina leads the league with 14 interceptions. Cornerback Josh Norman, a 2012 draft pick the Panthers developed into one of the better corners in the league, leads the team with four.

—In part because of the interceptions, the Carolina defense has the best opponent passer rating in the NFL with an impressive 69.1. That’s down in Peyton Manning territory (yes, it’s shocking to type that). Other teams complete just 57.2 percent of their passes against them and they average 6.0 yards per attempt. Add in 26 sacks, tied for sixth in the league, and Cousins will be challenged like he rarely has been before.

—Perhaps this would be a good game for the Redskins to get their running game going. The Panthers give up an average of 103 yards per game on the ground and 4.1 per carry. I suspect that to an extent the Panthers are willing to give up some yards on the ground, make teams grind out long drives, believing that the offense will make a mistake. And that happens pretty often; in addition to their 14 interceptions, the Panthers have recovered six fumbles.

—The Redskins’ biggest obstacle to winning on Sunday will be the man behind center for Carolina, Cam Newton. His passing numbers are not at all impressive with a completion percentage of 56.3 and a pedestrian passer rating of 84.8. But he is in the MVP conversation because can also run the ball (366 yards and six TD’s) and he has a knack for making a play when his team needs it. It’s hard to figure out how to defend a 6-6, 260-lb. quarterback when you very rarely go up against his combination of size and skills.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Panthers 4; Giants @ Redskins 11; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 19

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The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

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USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

The Redskins have not had a very good year when it comes to sacking the opposing quarterback. They have 31 sacks for the season, 17th in the NFL.

They had a then-NFL best 32-game streak with at least one sack came to an end in Week 10 against the Vikings.

Ryan Kerrigan is doing well with 9.0 sacks to his credit. Preston Smith has five but only a half since Week 6. Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen were forming a solid interior pass rush tandem early in the year but Allen went on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury and Ioannidis suffered a broken hand that limited his playing time and effectiveness.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

But the cure to the Redskins’ pass-rushing ills just may be coming to town on Sunday in the form of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Cardinals have given up 44 sacks on the season; that’s 31st in the NFL.

Things have gotten worse in the last couple of weeks, with Gabbert going down a combined 15 times against the Rams and Titans.

If you think that the Cardinals may have hit rock bottom, consider that two starters, left tackle Jared Veldheer and right guard Earl Watford, won’t be playing due to injuries.

Will Holden, a rookie fifth-round pick, will start at left tackle and Evan Boehm, who lost his job to Watford earlier this season, will be the right guard.

Of course, the Redskins have to go out and make it happen. The entire Cowboys offense was slumping until they met the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. They can’t be a haven for a struggling unit once again.

In any case, it is an opportunity that is in front of the Redskins. It’s up to them to take advantage of it.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 14, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 10
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 17
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 133

State of the Redskins

Top storylines

Jobs on the line? It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse. The Redskins don’t even have to look good down the stretch, they just need to win two of the final three and be competitive in the other. Gruden might be able to survive a couple more games like the Cowboys and Chargers debacles but if that happens I wouldn’t want to be him on January 1, the day after the season ends.

Shutdowns started—Jordan Reed going on injured reserve could be the first of a few moves to end the seasons of players who won’t be healthy in time to play in more than one or two games. It lets the player dive into rehab and it lets the team sign and get a look at a player who can stay on the roster through the offseason and compete for a roster spot in 2018. There could be more coming up until Week 17.

Playing out the string—Last week, when the Redskins were technically alive for the playoffs they apparently couldn’t muster enough motivation to prepare properly. It will be interesting to see how they react this week with their playoff odds reduced to zero.

Last three games

Sunday vs. Cardinals (6-7)—The Cardinals have fallen even further than the Redskins. Two years ago, they were on their way to a first-round bye and an appearance in the NFC title game. This season they are 6-7 after suffering from a raft of injuries, including losing their starting QB and All-Pro running back David Johnson. Can two teams with nothing to play for put on an entertaining show?

Christmas Eve vs. Broncos (4-9)—And in comes another team that has fallen even further and harder. The Broncos were lifting the Super Bowl Trophy two years ago. Now, the defense that spearheaded that run is still solid but without a reliable quarterback, they are having issues. At this point, your guess at if it will be Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, or Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback is as good as mine.

New Year’s Eve @ Giants (2-11)—Will this game be bye-bye to Eli? Changes are coming to New York and Manning, sometimes a Redskins nemesis and sometimes a player who gift-wrapped wins for Washington, could be on the way out. The Redskins could be playing to avoid the kind of upheaval that has already begun in the Big Apple.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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