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Redskins vs. Panthers: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Redskins vs. Panthers: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The Redskins needed a win in the worst way in Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers.

After a dreadful performance in primetime last week, Washington entered FedEx Field looking for a bounceback performance and a win to push them to 3-2. 

With Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson inactive against the Panthers, the Redskins will need everyone to step up. That's what happened, as the offense, defense and special teams stepped up and held on en route to a 23-17 win, putting the Redskins in first place in the NFC East.

Here is what Rich Tandler saw on Sunday.

Note that this post is updated after every quarter, come back and refresh the page to get the latest. 

Redskins vs. Panthers: Good, Bad, & Ugly

FIRST QUARTER:

GOOD: The Redskins got a good break after they went three and out on their first possession. Sean Dion Hamilton and Zach Vigil forced a fumble and Jeremy Sprinkle recovered at the Panthers 22. On the next play,

Vernon Davis was wide open for a 22-yard touchdown.

BAD: The Washington rushing defense needed some time to dig in. Christian McCaffrey bolted for runs of nine and eight yards on his first two carries and Cam Newton gained four on his first carry.

UGLY: Cam Newton’s passing early in the first quarter. He held on to the ball for too long and his pass attempts didn’t give his receivers a chance. He was heating up as the first quarter ended.

SECOND QUARTER:

GOOD: Apparently Josh Norman had to hit rock bottom to rebound. In the second quarter, he got his first interception in 19 games.

Later on, he punched the ball out of D.J. Moore’s arm and Mason Foster made the recovery. The second one led to a Redskins field goal to give the home team a 17-0 lead.

BAD: The Redskins defense after they scored on the field goal. Cam Newton was finding wide open receivers wherever he wanted to go. He also took off up the middle for a 13-yard run. The Panthers kept on going until they got into the end zone on a 22-yard pass from Newton to Devin Funchess.

UGLY:: Newton’s pass that Norman intercepted. It was an ugly, dead duck from the moment it left his hand.

THIRD QUARTER:

GOOD: Not much for the home team, other than the fact that they held on to their lead at 17-9 at the end of the third quarter.

BAD: The Redskins didn’t do much defensively to bail out their coach after he went for it on fourth down and failed. They gave Newton wide-open targets and the let Newton gallop for big chunks of yards a couple of times. They did manage to hold Carolina to a field goal to make it an eight-point game with time running down in the third quarter.

UGLY: The Redskins had a nice drive going with their first possession of the quarter but Alex Smith misfired on passes on third and fourth down and the ball was turned over on downs at the Carolina 38.

FOURTH QUARTER:

GOOD: A nice Redskins drive died at the Carolina 38 early in the quarter. Dustin Hopkins came in and boomed a career-long 56-yard field goal. That gave the Redskins a little bit of breathing room at 20-9.

BAD: The defense again couldn’t stop Newton. The Panthers had mostly abandoned the run except for Newton scrambles. After Hopkins’ field goal Newton was able to pick his targets at his leisure. When he was rushed, he scrambled.

It was an effortless drive and Newton went to Torrey Smith for both the touchdown and the two-point conversion that made it 20-17.

UGLY: The Washington defense on the Panthers’ final drive. They couldn’t get much pressure on Newton and receivers had time to get plenty of separation. The moved easily from their own 15 to midfield.

A few more plays moved it down to the Washington 24. It didn’t end ugly, though, as Cam Newton’s four-down pass fell incomplete and the Redskins held on.

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      Redskins free agent targets: James Bradberry

      Redskins free agent targets: James Bradberry

      NBC Sports Washington is taking a long look at potential free agents that could help the Redskins in 2020. 

      Carolina Panthers CB James Bradberry
      2016 second-round pick by Carolina
      Unrestricted free agent
      6-foot-1 | 212 lbs. | 26 years old

      Ron Rivera has brought a lot with him from Carolina to Washington. Most notably, the Redskins new coach has hired someone with ties to the Panthers to run, among other things, his new team's offense, training staff, player negotiations/salary cap dealings and a handful of positions on both sides of the ball.

      It's safe to bet that trend will continue to some extent once free agency commences, with Greg Olsen visiting the Redskins before signing with the Seahawks Tuesday. Safety Tre Boston is slated to hit the open market as well.

      If Rivera wants to get really aggressive, however, and poach who should be the top available Panther, he'll pursue cornerback James Bradberry.

      Bradberry doesn't carry the same name recognition that Josh Norman did four offseasons ago, but don't overlook him. He's a legit cover guy in the NFL. 

      The 26-year-old has started 47 of the last 48 games — the majority of which happened with Rivera on the sidelines — and is coming off a year where he notched three picks and defended 12 passes.

      Bradberry will be one of the three premium available options at his position come March, thanks to his durability, age and steady improvement as a pro. And because of those factors, he's going to command a serious contract, likely somewhere north of $10 million per season.

      Now, during Super Bowl week in Miami, Bradberry told the Redskins Talk podcast that his "dream scenario" would be to return to the Panthers and continue his career there. He did admit, though, he's enticed by the idea of re-joining Rivera, a person whom Bradberry described as a "great man and a great coach."

      If Bradberry can't come to an agreement with the organization that drafted him, the Redskins should make a concerted effort to land him. Cornerback is a place of need for Rivera, Jack Del Rio and Co., and it's unlikely they'll be able to reinforce it with a high draft pick considering the team is without a second-rounder and is currently poised to take Chase Young second overall.

      Therefore, free agency appears to be Washington's best path for addressing the outside of their secondary, and Bradberry very well could be the best choice on that path. 

      Yes, the last time the Redskins went all-in on a defensive back from the Panthers who wore No. 24, it failed. That shouldn't dissuade them this time around. Bradberry will be expensive, sure, but he also could be very, very good for quite a while.

      Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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      Questions facing Ron Rivera: What happens next with Ryan Kerrigan?

      Questions facing Ron Rivera: What happens next with Ryan Kerrigan?

      In the last decade, no Redskins player performed better than Ryan Kerrigan. Incredibly, he started the first 139 straight games of his career, a run of more than eight years without missing a game, and posted double-digit sacks in four of the last six seasons. 

      Kerrigan has been dependable and productive in a fashion that no Redskins player has demonstrated in a long time. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and in those three years, he totaled 37 sacks. 

      Looking at 2020 and a new era of Redskins football, however, and questions arise about Kerrigan's future. 

      New Washington head coach Ron Rivera was presented a roster chock full of problems, and that allowed the coach to already make some easy decisions. Releasing Josh Norman and Paul Richardson was easy; those two moves saved the team nearly $15 million and cost the Redskins little on-field production. 

      That's not the case with Kerrigan. 

      Sure, he has a high price tag in 2020 with a cap number of nearly $12 million, none of which is guaranteed. And yes, Kerrigan is coming off the least productive season of his career and for the first time ever missed games to injuries. He will also turn 32 in August. 

      Considering the above case against Kerrigan, and that Washington overhauled its coaching staff and front office already this offseason, releasing the veteran pass rusher could make sense. It would free up a lot of cash on the salary cap and give a veteran player a chance to catch on with a contender.

      Don't expect that though. 

      There is a multitude of reasons to expect Kerrigan to stay in Washington, but the most important is that he has publicly talked about a willingness to work out a contract extension (see video above). If the Redskins can add a year onto his deal, that would allow for immediate cap relief by spreading his money between the next two seasons. In many ways, that seems like the most likely option. 

      Kerrigan is well-liked by everyone in the Redskins organization, including ownership, and is just one sack away from the franchise sack record. That might not mean much to some fans, but there is value in a distinguished player going his whole career for one team. 

      There's also this and it's important: Kerrigan could thrive in 2020. 

      For the past few seasons, the Redskins 3-4 defensive scheme consistently asked its pass rushers to drop into coverage far too frequently. It was a bad plan, and players knew it. New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has openly discussed that he wants his pass rushers to focus on getting to the quarterback. It's an incredibly simple yet smart strategy, and that could help Kerrigan significantly. 

      Consider what happened with former Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith. In four years in Washington, Smith never got to double-digit sacks. His last year with the Redskins, 2018, was the worst of his career. He finished with just four sacks. This year playing in Green Bay, Smith registered 12 sacks and got to show his size, speed, and athleticism as a disruptive force. 

      Kerrigan doesn't have Smith's athleticism, but he has more strength and could see a similar jolt by playing in a revamped defense. 

      There is the issue of the second overall pick that Washington holds. Assuming the team doesn't trade the pick, the Redskins will take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Paired with 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat, Del Rio would have some elite speed off the edge. 

      Would Kerrigan lose reps in that scenario? More than likely. 

      Can a team have too many pass rushers? Absolutely not. 

      Kerrigan would provide different looks than Young or Sweat for opposing offenses when on the field, and has the strength to play in run situations as well. He could also serve as a role model for both young players in how to prepare and take care of your body over the course of a 16-game season. 

      If a release seems unlikely and an extension might make sense, the trade option just exists. It's hard to know what the market would be for Kerrigan right now, as he only has one year left on his contract.

      Keep in mind, however, that Kerrigan has been extremely productive in Washington for the last five seasons playing on some bad defenses. It's entirely possible, if not probable, he can deliver more double-digit sacks playing on an improved defense with a better scheme. 

      What is certain in all of this?

      Rivera would love to have Kerrigan from a culture standpoint. He won't miss any voluntary sessions and he will work hard every day. There's nine years of data, on-field and off, to support the theory that Kerrigan is the type of player all coaches love to have on their team. And that will matter too. 

      Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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