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Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 14, seven days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking points

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

The agenda

Today: Panthers @ Redskins 

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Giants 14; Redskins @ Eagles 50

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Stefon Diggs is unsure about the NFL starting up with 'so many unanswered questions'

Stefon Diggs is unsure about the NFL starting up with 'so many unanswered questions'

On Tuesday, Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA president J.C. Tretter penned a letter questioning if the NFL is truly prioritizing player safety in its return to work plan, which is expected to begin with training camp at the end of the month.

Hours later, Buffalo Bills wide receiver and former Maryland Terrapin standout Stefon Diggs voiced similar concerns on Twitter, stating "I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable starting back up."

Earlier in the day, he tweeted that he missed football and that he loves the sport.

If and when the NFL does resume this fall, games will be played without fans in some stadiums. Diggs mentioned that it would be "weird" to play in front of an empty stadium, something he's never done before at any level of football.

Even if there are fans at NFL games this fall, they will be away from the playing field. The league has already announced that the first 6-8 rows of each lower bowl section will be blocked off from fans to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, those sections will be covered with advertisements, similarly to how the Premier League has done during its restart.

Training camp is set to being on July 28, around the same time both the MLB and NBA will begin/resume their respective seasons. With live-action just a few weeks away, we've seen multiple players across both sports opt-out from playing, including Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman and Wizards sharpshooter Davis Bertans.

As the NFL season begins to get closer, it's likely only a matter of time before a few players opt-out, too.

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Don't expect the Redskins and Brandon Scherff to agree to a long-term deal before July deadline, per report

Don't expect the Redskins and Brandon Scherff to agree to a long-term deal before July deadline, per report

Brandon Scherff signed his one-year tender with the Redskins in April, and after doing so, told the team's website that he loves playing in Washington and hoped to do so for the rest of his career.

Well, the possibility of that happening may be taking at least a slight hit this offseason, according to a Tuesday report from ESPN's John Keim. Keim tweeted that "there isn't much optimism that a long-term deal will be struck" before the league's July 15 deadline.

If that does indeed happen, the 28-year-old will play out 2020 on the franchise tag and earn $15 million.

Ron Rivera and other members of the organization haven't been shy when it comes to praising Scherff. Back in February, the head coach referred to the guard as "somebody that we really believe is a big part of our offensive line." 

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However, whether it's the overall bizarre nature of this offseason, the uncertainty of how this coming season will unfold or Scherff's recent, serious injury history, it's looking like Scherff is only guaranteed to be a "big part" of the Burgundy and Gold's line for 2020. Simply put, this feels like a very weird time to launch into a major commitment.

If the deadline comes and goes without any unforeseen progress, it'll be up to Scherff to ball out in the franchise's next 16 games, and then look to cash out next March. At that point, this process will start all over again.

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