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Five observations from the Redskins victory over Carolina

Five observations from the Redskins victory over Carolina

Here are my five key observations from the Redskins 23-17 win over the Panthers.

1. Good start

For the second straight home game the Redskins scored a touchdown on their fourth play from scrimmage. Against the Packers it was a conventional four-play drive. Today it was three and out, recovery of a fumbled punt, and 22-yard TD pass from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis. The Redskins stretched the lead out to 17-0 midway through the second quarter before the Panthers got on the board. After doing nothing in New Orleans, it was the solid start the Redskins badly needed.

2. Alex Smith still sputters

While the Redskins started off well, Smith was erratic through the first half. He was good on 10 of 18 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Smith certainly had his good moments, hitting receivers for some key first downs during the Redskins first-half scoring drives. He also had some passes that were way off the mark, even when he apparently had time to throw. Late in the first half the Redskins got good field position after a punt from deep in Panthers territory. But after an intentional grounding flag the Redskins were moved out of field goal range.

Smith continued to flounder in the second half. After the Redskins moved into Carolina territory with their first possession of the third quarter, he threw third-and fourth-down passes late and inaccurate. He did hit a few passes in the drive that sealed the game for Washington but overall his day was spotty.

3. Inconsistent Offense

The offense took quick advantage of breaks, scoring in one play after recovering fumbled punt. 

They got a 64-yard drive with a variety of runs and passes on third possession, capped with a two-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson. Then, things stalled. Well, they didn’t fall apart down entirely. They could start drives but they had trouble finishing. Several drives stalled in Panthers territory, forcing them go punt, go for it on fourth or, early in the fourth quarter, a 56-yard field goal.

The one constant was running back Adrian Peterson. He rolled for 97 yards on 17 carries, consistently gashing the Panthers defense for solid gains. While Smith was cold, he kept the offense afloat.

4. Defense gets the takeaways

The defense contributed two takeaways in the second quarter and Josh Norman had a hand in both of them. He picked off his first pass in 19 games and later he forced a fumble. The second turnover led to a field goal to put the Redskins up 17-0.

After that, however, they let Cam Newton get rolling and the Panthers got a touchdown and a field goal to make it a one-score game at 17-9 entering the fourth quarter. After a Redskins field goal, they let Newton and the Panthers march right down the field for a touchdown and two-point conversion to pull Carolina within a field goal.

The defense needed one more stop to clinch the game after a field goal made it 23-17. The Panthers easily drove into the red zone. On fourth down and five from the 16 with 38 seconds left, Newton’s pass fell incomplete and everyone was able to breathe.

5. The pattern continues

You know it’s your day when you get three takeaways and your kicker bombs one from 56 yards out after the other team has made it a one-score game. It seemed like a back-and-forth game, but the Redskins held the lead from the get-go. The Redskins continued their up-and-down pattern, winning after a bad loss for the second time this season. They can’t continue this pattern if they are going to contend for the playoffs. But they could only win one game today and they got it done.

They will have another chance to build an actual winning streak next week against the Cowboys.

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With the Redskins playing Monday night, what games should fans spend Sunday watching?

With the Redskins playing Monday night, what games should fans spend Sunday watching?

Between the national exposure and primetime atmosphere, many NFL fans love watching their team play on Monday Night Football. 

Redskins fans do not fall in that category. The team is a dismal 2-15 in their last 17 Monday Night Football contests, with their last win coming in 2012. 

But obviously, the fans don't make the schedule. So this week, Redskins fans hope the Burgundy and Gold can finally turn the narrative around when they face the Chicago Bears on Monday, Sept. 23.

That doesn't mean Redskins fans should take Sunday off from watching football, however. There are several contests on Sunday's slate that Redskins fans should be tuning into, as the result of each game affects the same in some fashion or another

Here are five Week 3 games Redskins fans should care about:

New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:05 p.m.)

In terms of the product on the field, this game is definitely not the best football game one can watch on Sunday. But this is a game Redskins fans should absolutely tune in for.

Eli Manning has been benched for the Giants; rookie Daniel Jones will make his first career NFL start. The Giants play the Redskins right around the corner in Week 4. With this game being the only regular-season action Jones will have prior to next week's Redskins-Giants matchup (besides mop-up duty in the Giants' Week 1 loss vs. Dallas), fans of the Burgundy and Gold will want to see what the rookie can do. 

New England Patriots vs. New York Jets (1 p.m.)

Why should Redskins fans have an interest in an AFC North matchup between the best team in football and one of the worst? Well, the mighty Patriots are coming to FedExField in just three weeks.

Through two weeks, New England has looked as good as anyone. They opened the season embarrassing Pittsburgh, 33-3. Things went the same way a week later, as the Patriots went down to Miami and shut them out, 43-0.

Down their starting QB as well as their backup, the Jets may not challenge the Patriots any more than the other teams did. But it's worth seeing how the Patriots perform, as the Redskins will see the defending Super Bowl champs in just a few short weeks.

Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1 p.m.)

For Redskins fans, any Eagles game should always be worth tuning in for. If nothing else, they are a divisional foe, so fans should be aware of what the birds do every week of the season. 

But this contest has a chance to be a really solid football game in general. The Lions pulled off a surprise upset a week ago, knocking off the Los Angeles Chargers, 13-10. The Eagles were bitten by the injury bug a week ago in a loss vs. Atlanta, and will be without some key contributors for Sunday's matchup. DeSean Jackson and Timmy Jernigan will not be suiting up. Alshon Jeffery and Corey Clement will likely to be held out as well.

As one of the more intriguing games during the 1 p.m. slate, this is not a bad option for Redskins fans to watch.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins (1 p.m.)

If you're not a Cowboys or a Dolphins fan (believe it or not, there may still be some Miami fans out there), you'll probably have a hard time keeping your eyes glued to this one. Dallas looks like one of the league's best teams, while Miami may not win a game all season.

But the Redskins play the Dolphins in less than a month, and the Cowboys are the Burgundy and Gold's biggest rival. Those alone are two excuses to watch this football game for Redskins fans, even if the game will be out of reach for Miami by halftime.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs (1 p.m.)

This game may not directly impact the Redskins, but it's by far the best football game of the day. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are two of the league's brightest stars and promise to put on a show in what should be an incredible early-season matchup.

With it only being Week 3, it's way too early to look at potential wild card implications for the Redskins for one to watch a less-exciting, random NFC game over this one. So sit back on your couch, grab a drink, and enjoy some high-quality AFC football.

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Redskins Mailbag: If everyone expected an 0-2 start, why is everyone freaking out?

Redskins Mailbag: If everyone expected an 0-2 start, why is everyone freaking out?

Mailbags are a fun way to interact with fans and answer some questions, and it's high time that I tried one.

By the way, this is JP, and I'm going to answer some questions that came in via my Twitter. 

Here we go:

1. Early-season emotions

James Lowe (@lowey133) - "If everyone expected 0-2 why is everyone going mad about us being 0-2?"

This is a great question and a good starting point. When the schedule came out in April, most folks thought the Redskins would lose the first two games. Vegas installed the Redskins as sizable underdogs in both contests, and sure enough, the Redskins lost. So the freakout might not be warranted, BUT, the manner in which Washington lost both games is quite concerning.

The Redskins were supposed to be led by their defense, and that just hasn't been the case. Greg Manusky's group ranks at or near the bottom in almost every meaningful defensive stat through two games this year. The secondary seems completely overwhelmed and confused, and those were the exact problems the team allegedly addressed this offseason. Also, the run game has been nonexistent so far.

Collectively the Redskins have less than 80 rush yards on the season, and Derrius Guice is on the injured reserve. Trent Williams not showing up and Jordan Reed's concussion situation probably aren't helping to settle many fans fears either. 

2. Contract progress for Scherff?

Defend the District (@DefendforOldDC) - "How likely do you think it is at this point that Brandon Scherff will get a new deal here?"

At this point, I don't think it's likely. Scherff is now 14 games away from free agency, and by all the whispers I've heard, the Redskins didn't really make an offer that would keep him tied to Washington.

It's possible the Redskins' brass doesn't want to go north of $14 million a year for a guard, even a guard as good as Scherff. It's also possible the team will use a franchise or transition tag on Scherff next offseason.

Whatever happens, I would not expect a contract extension between Scherff and the Redskins this season. 

3. Three-pack of quick hitters

Jared Wasser (@JaredAWasser) - "% chance Dwayne Haskins in the starting QB week 1 for the Redskins in the 2020-2021 season?"

100 percent. 

Hamid Safdari (@Hamid_Safdari) - "When will Norman be benched?"

Not happening. At all. 

Jim (@RedskinsFanStil) - "Do you get paid more for doing the mailbag?"

No. Kindness of my heart. 

4. Gruden's hot seat and a cold start

T.G. (@Coach_TommyG) - "How many wins do you think Jay needs to stay as HC of the Redskins? O/U 9.5?"

Well, Gruden himself said he needs to make the playoffs to keep his job in 2020. And sitting at 0-2 in the NFC East, a division title already seems pretty far out of reach.

That means Gruden's squad needs to grab a Wild Card spot, and to be safe, get 10 wins to get there. Which, with only 14 remaining, means the Redskins need to go 10-4 the rest of the way. Seems like an uphill climb.

Maybe 9-7 gets a Wild Card spot, which means 9-5 record the rest of the way. 

5. Defensive coaching tea leaves

Cory (@CoryMartens) - "Is the real reason Manusky is still here is because if he goes, Jim Tomsula goes with him? Any chance Jim T could be a replacement candidate for Manusky?"

A lot to discuss here. I think Greg Manusky is still the Redskins defensive coordinator because the team has only played two games. No matter how bad something looks, making a decision this early in the season seems rash. Now, if the Bears terrible offense drops 30 on the Redskins on Monday night, things could get ugly for Manusky.

As for Tomsula, he is very close with Manusky. I don't think he would even consider taking the defensive coordinator job if Manusky got fired, but I'm not positive the D-line leader would leave the team either. Tomsula is a man of immense loyalty and he cares deeply for his players. I'm not sure he would leave his guys in the middle of the year.

Complete honesty: I just don't know

6. Stadium update?

2Jet (@Y2Banana) - "Stadium update?" 

I've heard some stuff, but nothing I can share. I do think there will be either an official word or some reportable news soon.

My biggest hint: it will be north of the Potomac. 

7. Inside concussion protocol

Scotty Bugatti (@ScottAument213) - "Reed this week? Any updates? Also favorite pregame snack lol" 

When players are in the NFL concussion protocol, the media isn't allowed to speak with them. I have no idea Jordan Reed's status, but hope he takes all the time he needs.

As for a pregame snack, I'm a popcorn junkie. I love popcorn. Like more than a friend. 

Thanks for the questions folks. We will do this again next week. If you made it this far, I owe you a beer.

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