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Need to Know: Tale of the tape — Redskins vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Tale of the tape — Redskins vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 12, two days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Talking Points

Here is how the Redskins stack up against the Panthers, position by position:

Quarterback
The chances are good that Alex Smith will bounce back after a very disappointing outing against the Saints. His 2018 numbers are almost identical to those of the Panthers’ Cam Newton. Although Smith can run some, Newton’s average of nearly five yards per carry and three TDs give him the edge. 

Slight advantage Panthers

Running Back
This is really a two for one comparison. For the Redskins, Adrian Peterson covers first and second downs and Chris Thompson comes in for passing situations. For Carolina, Christian McCaffrey does it all. No other running back on the team has more than 16 rushing attempts or one reception. McCaffrey may be more effective than either Redskin individually but the combination favors Washington. 

Slight advantage Redskins

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tight end Greg Olson may play for the Panthers for the first time this year after recovering from a broken foot. Even if he is effective he will be just the third-best TE on the field behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. There are plenty of complaints about the Redskins wide receiver corps, but the Panthers top trio of Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith, and Jarius Wright hasn’t been much more productive. 

Advantage Redskins

Offensive line
Panthers center Ryan Kalil has a couple of first-team All-Pro entries on his resume, and even at age 33, he’s a solid center. Right guard Trai Turner has been to the last three Pro Bowls. The rest of the line, with Chris Clark and Taylor Moton at the tackle spots and Greg Van Roten at left guard, is nothing special. The Redskins are better at three of the five spots, giving them the edge here. 

Advantage Redskins

Defensive Front Seven
Here the edge swings back to the Panthers. You have to like how the Redskins’ interior line is coming along but Carolina defensive tackles Kawaan Short and Dontari Poe have been doing it well for a long time. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is one of the best in the business when healthy and he appears to be good to go now. The Redskins have the better edge rushers, assuming Preston Smith gets rolling. Maybe the Washington D-line can make some noise in this game but for now, Carolina is the better unit. 

Advantage Panthers

Secondary
Even after the debacle against Drew Brees and the Saints, the Redskins are still in the top 10 in pass defense DVOA, sitting in tenth at -0.6%. The Panthers are near the bottom of the league at 27th with a DVOA of 23.3% (remember that lower/negative numbers are better in defensive DVOA). Assuming that Josh Norman is able to pull it back together, the Redskins have a solid advantage here. 

Advantage Redskins

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The agenda

Today: Practice 12:15; Jay Gruden press conference and open locker room after practice, approx. 2:00

Upcoming: Panthers @ Redskins 2 days; Cowboys @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Giants 16


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Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

The reboot is almost here. 

The second edition of the XFL, the infamous football league brought to you by WWE founder Vince McMahon for a memorable, combustible one-year run in 2001, begins play in February. It is a second chance for the league and for the players who’ve joined, including former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones is the quarterback for the DC Defenders, Washington’s newest pro franchise that will play its home games at D.C. United’s Audi Field. The first game isn’t until February 8 after the NFL’s season concludes with the Super Bowl, but the organization opened its offseason camp at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House indoor facility on Thursday. The debut is just over two months away. 

“I love it. It’s pretty cool to be part of something that’s going to be a first, a historical moment of the return [of the XFL] and to be in [the D.C.] area,” Jones said. “Hopefully not just me, but this team can leave a lasting impression.”

It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Defenders will make on a crowded winter sports scene with the NHL’s Capitals and NBA’s Wizards playing and the World Series champion Nationals starting their title defense just across the street from Audi Field in April just as the XFL plays its final two games and its two playoff rounds. 

Jones, of course, led Ohio State to the national championship in 2014 when he came off the bench to replace two injured starters and led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big 10 championship game and two more in the college football playoffs. He started seven games in 2015 as a redshirt junior, but lost his job and turned pro after that season. 

Part of the appeal of the XFL is to get another shot at an NFL opportunity. Jones was drafted in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 and made his debut in a game late that season. He was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 and spent that year on the practice squad. Jones was with the Seattle Seahawks this summer and again cut from the practice squad in September.  

“My focus is strictly on the XFL and the DC Defenders, nothing more, nothing less,” Jones said. “I do have long-term goals and aspirations, but all of them consist of being a better player and teammate to this franchise and this organization.”

Pep Hamilton is the head coach and general manager of the Defenders. Quarterback at Howard in the early 1990s, Hamilton has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and was most recently the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at Michigan. 

That drew a laugh from Jones, who was going back and forth with Hamilton to set up a meeting after the Defenders’ roster was announced. Hamilton still has a home in Ann Arbor so that’s where Jones, the ultimate Ohio State guy, had to go. 

“Right around the corner from the University,” Jones cracked. “So I had to drive past the Big House every freakin’ time I’d go up there. Monday through Wednesday I’d have to go past there.”

Jones laughed and said he was driving through campus one day and saw some players he recognized wearing Michigan gear. He yelled out the car window “O-H!” and sped past them cackling. Every workout Jones makes sure he has his Ohio State cleats on and Hamilton wears his Michigan shoes. 

Jones, Hamilton and the rest are all on the same team now, though, and it will take lots of repetitions throughout the offseason for players from colleges all over the country to come together and form a cohesive group. There isn’t much time. Walk throughs and team meetings began this week and continue into next week. Then come OTAs next weekend and finally a two-day minicamp on Dec. 16-17. 

“This is going to be interesting,” Jones said. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I sense a great buzz. We did a couple of appearances and some meet-and-greets with the fans and I was shocked by the response that we got and how excited people are around the city. It’s football all year round.” 

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Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

A week ago, many Redskins fans were not familiar with the name Nate Orchard. But after No. 54's exceptional performance in the Redskins' Week 13 victory over Carolina, he's turned into a feel-good story in an otherwise tough season in Washington.

As many Redskins fans know by now, Orchard was signed just days before the Week 13 game. Due to injuries to linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, as well as Ryan Anderson being ejected, Orchard was forced to play meaningful snaps towards the end of Sunday's victory. He finished with a sack, recovering a fumble, and two tackles for loss in the win.

The former star on HBO's Hard Knocks while he was with the Cleveland Browns had worked out for 10 (!!) teams this season, but none chose to sign Orchard until Washington did last week. It makes sense why he was so emotional postgame.

So, how was Orchard spending his time before joining the Burgundy and Gold? 

Orchard, who spent most Mondays and Tuesdays this season working out for NFL teams, was installing windows in Utah a few days during the week, according to 106.7 The Fan.

"A typical week for me, I would leave for a workout Monday, get back Tuesday night," Orchard said on 106.7's Grant and Danny"Wednesday morning, I'd hit the gym early, then go and install windows from 7 [o'clock] until about 3 [o'clock], then come back to my family and rest up. [I would] repeat that Thursday and Friday."

Orchard admitted that he questioned whether he should continue to train and wait for a call, but says his wife encouraged him to stay motivated and continue to workout.

They say hard work pays off, and Orchard's whirlwind of a season thus far ended up being very rewarding for him this past Sunday.

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