Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 14, seven days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.
Here are my final thoughts on today’s game between the Redskins and Panthers.
Update: Crowder and Thompson reportedly out
Overnight, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that both Chris Thompson (ribs) and Jamison Crowder (ankle) will miss today’s game. Thompson being out will mean that Kapri Bibbs will be the third-down back and Samaje Perine will back up Adrian Peterson. Bibbs can handle the runs and passes on third down just fine but keep an eye on him in pass protection.
Crowder’s absence will give Maurice Harris his second consecutive start. He filled in for Josh Doctson on Monday night against the Saints and he caught three passes for 47 yards.
Get pressure on Cam
According to the crew at ESPN NFL Matchup, the Panthers keep Cam Newton well protected. He has been pressured on only 19.6 percent of his dropbacks, the lowest percentage in the NFL. It should be noted that four games is a small sample size and that only one of their opponents so far is in the top 20 in the NFL in sack percentage.
Of course, the Redskins aren’t near the top of the league in sack percentage either, ranking 18th at 6.1. They may not increase that much against the Panthers since Newton is hard to bring down. He has been sacked seven times this year. Getting him off of his mark and forcing incompletions and turnovers (he has thrown three interceptions) could be just as effective as sacks in slowing down the Carolina offense.
Impact comebacks for Panthers?
Much is being made of Panthers LB Thomas Davis and TE Greg Olson playing for the first time this season. Davis is back after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Olson is returning from a broken foot. Both players were with the Panthers in training camp so it’s not like they are coming in completely cold. But I wonder how much impact the 35-year-old linebacker and 33-year-old tight end will have after their layoffs. It’s not as though the Redskins can ignore either player but if one or both players takes a majority of the snaps it could be an advantage.
An opportunity for the offense?
Over the past few years, the Panthers’ calling card has been a top-10 defense. They don’t have one of those so far this year. Since giving up eight points to the offensively-challenged Cowboys in Week 1 they have given up 31, 21, and 31 points. Football Outsiders has them ranked 26thin defensive DVOA after they were seventh last year. Looking at the more conventional stats, they allow 7.5 net yards per pass attempt (27th) and 4.6 yards per rushing attempt (25th).
Will the Redskins continue the pattern?
Going back to Week 16 of last year, the Redskins have not just alternated wins and losses, but they have gone from looking like a quality team one week to a train wreck the next. After last week’s calamity, they are due for a good performance.
But just being due doesn’t guarantee anything. The Redskins need to straighten out their communication issues in the secondary (since apparently, they didn’t nail that down in the first week of OTAs like they should have). Alex Smith needs to get back to being the quarterback he was against the Packers when he threw for 11 yards per pass attempt. Preston Smith needs to show up. Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson need to be healthy enough to put together some semblance of a running game.
I’ve been bullish on the Redskins in my prediction this season. I have picked them to win three of their four games (I had them losing to the Packers). I’ll give them one more week to prove that my positive outlook on the 2018 Redskins is justified.
Redskins 24, Panthers 20
Today: Panthers @ Redskins
Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Giants 14; Redskins @ Eagles 50