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Need to Know: Tandler’s Take — Three chances for the Redskins to make statements are coming up

Need to Know: Tandler’s Take — Three chances for the Redskins to make statements are coming up

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, October 2, six days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

Usually, an opportunity for a statement game is something that comes up for a team once or twice a year. This month, the Redskins have a chance to make three statements in three weeks. It’s not an exaggeration to say that their coming three games could determine the shape of the 2018 season. 

Monday @ Saints

In case you have blocked the Redskins’ last visit to New Orleans out of your memory, here is a quick recap. The visitors grabbed a seven-point lead early in the second quarter and built it up to 15 with just under six minutes to play. And then, well, I’m not going to recap the rest because you either remember it or, if you don’t, you want it to remain forgotten. 

This Monday is not really about “revenge”. The Saints didn’t do anything dirty and the Redskins have no reason to think that they were cheated (even though that intentional grounding flag in the last minute was very shaky). The game will be about showing that the Redskins can win this type of game and, after having beaten the Packers last week, show that they can put together two quality wins in a row. 

October 14 vs. Panthers

Carolina is 2-1 and they also had their bye this past weekend. They are coming off of an 11-win playoff season. It’s a home game and a conference game for Washington and the Redskins need to gather as many wins as they can in those kinds of games. 

But the importance is not what makes this a potential statement game for the Redskins. It’s the fact that they have not beaten Carolina in over 10 years. It hasn’t happened since 2006, a losing streak of five straight games. The common denominator in the last four losses has been quarterback Cam Newton. The Redskins have yet to beat him. If they are going to make headway in the NFC, they are going to have to get past Newton and the Panthers. 

October 21 vs. Cowboys

The Redskins’ losing streak against the Cowboys is not as long as the one against the Panthers — it stands at four straight losses — but it has been more painful for the fans and for the organization. Winning the home game against the Cowboys would make a statement that the Redskins can take care of business in the division at home. 

It’s probably asking too much for the Redskins to sweep all three of these statement games. But two out of three would put them at 4-2 and as long as one of the wins of over Dallas that would be a good performance for the team at that point in the season. 

The agenda

Today: Off day

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 6 days; Panthers @ Redskins 12; Cowboys @ Redskins 19

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One analyst gives a very dispiriting take on what the 2020 Redskins have at quarterback

One analyst gives a very dispiriting take on what the 2020 Redskins have at quarterback

No one will look at the Redskins' quarterback situation and call it superb or even settled, but with a slimmer and more experienced Dwayne Haskins positioned as starter and ex-Panthers signal caller Kyle Allen reuniting with his old staff as depth, fans can at least reasonably hope that things will work out under center in 2020.

NBC Sports analyst Josh Norris, though, doesn't envision a positive outcome for Washington's passers this year. During an interview on the Redskins Talk podcast, he explained why.

First, Norris gave his opinion on Allen. When the Burgundy and Gold initially acquired the former Carolina QB, some asserted that Allen would actually beat out Haskins for the top job. Norris, however, flat out doesn't believe Allen has that kind of talent.

"My lowest moment of 2019 was that two-month span where people tried to make Kyle Allen a starter in the NFL," Norris told Redskins Talk. "It was bogus. It was so ridiculous."

"I understand the production was there and he went on some starting streaks and they won some games," he continued. "But he's at best an NFL backup."

In the end, Norris compared Allen to Colt McCoy. Yes, most rosters need someone like McCoy — hell, he just left the area after a six-year run with the franchise and he's now a Giant, so he's clearly valued — but those kinds of guys aren't the ones coaches want running their offenses for more than a few quarters or so.

Now, here's the part where it gets dispiriting: While Norris doesn't think much of Allen — in addition to the McCoy comparison, Norris labeled Allen inaccurate and too susceptible to pocket pressure — he still expects him to start for team in 2020. That stems from Norris also doubting what Haskins will be able to do in his second season as a pro.

"We still don't know who he is," Norris said of the 2019 first-round pick.

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Yes, Haskins improved as a rookie in a situation that was largely a catastrophe, so it's not crazy to conclude he should continue to ascend now that the organization is more settled. Norris himself acknowledged the growth Haskins made.

However, even with that maturation, as well as Norris' positive feelings about Ron Rivera, Scott Turner and many other aspects of Washington's potential turnaround, the analyst still sees a glaring weakness that'll directly affect Haskins and could contribute to a less-than-stellar campaign for No. 7.

"What is possibly the most important part of quarterback success is offensive line play, and I think it's fair to question the Washington Redskins' offensive line right now, especially the left tackle spot," Norris said.

In the end, Norris anticipates Haskins having issues for a certain number of weeks, Allen stepping in after and the Redskins overall being unhappy with their collective output at QB. 

"We've seen NFL storylines repeat themselves," he said. "A [staff] goes to a new organization and brings a quarterback that may not be starting caliber but understands exactly what they want to do and he ultimately ends up starting a handful of games because of that, because they want to stabilize the situation as much as possible."

How stable does that really sound? The answer, of course, is not at all. 

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Why Cam Newton remains unsigned, according to his former coach Ron Rivera

Why Cam Newton remains unsigned, according to his former coach Ron Rivera

As the calendar turns to June and most NFL teams have settled on the first phase of their roster makeup, one notable name remains on the market. Cam Newton, the former Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2015 league MVP, is still unsigned as the 2020 season fast approaches.

Despite his past success and dual-threat skills, the 31-year-old has not sparked much interest, specifically as a starter, from NFL teams. Why could that be? One person who may have an understanding of the factors contributing to Newton remaining off a roster is Redskins head coach Ron Rivera.

Rivera and Newton spent nine seasons together as the quarterback-head coach duo for the Carolina Panthers, a run that came to an end following the 2019 campaign. Rivera has a fresh start in Washington, and Newton is looking for the same after being released earlier this year. Barring a major change, it most likely won't come with the Redskins.

However, the head coach still has solid insight on the situation. Based on what Rivera knows about Newton and has seen from him in the past, he believes there is one major factor that has teams hesitant to bring him in: Health.

“I think that’s probably the biggest thing, more than anything else," Rivera said of Newton's injury concerns on Fox Sports' 'Fox Football Now' with Jay Glazer. "You’ve got to know. The foot and the shoulder will be the two biggest concerns everybody has."

As Rivera alluded to, there are question marks surrounding Newton following a 2019 season that saw him only appear in two games. Specifically, consistent shoulder problems have messed with throwing motion will continue to be a concern for any team interested in bringing him on. Nagging foot injuries don't help. 

Time off and surgery have been beneficial to his recovery process, but Rivera understands that it's hard to truly judge a player until you see him in action once again. However, he has heard some rave reviews of Newton's physical shape as of late.

"I will say this, though, from the people that are around him that I know, they’ve all said the same thing to me. They’ve said, ‘Coach, he looks great. He really does,'" Rivera said.

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Rivera added that it isn't just his physical presence that is encouraging, but his mindset as well. Being released from the team he spent his whole career with and took to the Super Bowl, coupled with doubt from others around the NFL, has given Newton a new edge.

"He’s a little bit different. His whole attitude -- he’s got something to prove," Rivera said he's heard.

Rivera's words are encouraging, but only time will tell where Newton ends up and when he'll get another chance to prove himself in the NFL. There is one thing Rivera knows: whenever that opportunity does arise, Newton will make the league remember just how talented he is.

"And I will say this -- the one thing about Cam Newton with an edge for something to prove, don’t ever bet against him.”

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