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Week 6 Panthers vs. Redskins: Picking up the pieces in Washington

Week 6 Panthers vs. Redskins: Picking up the pieces in Washington

Young children should not hear the truth about certain things in life, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Maybe the real odds of winning one of those oversized stuff animals at the local county fair. 

The truth can just be too harsh for young children. 

Well, the truth might be too harsh for Redskins fans too after an abysmal loss to the Saints last Monday night. The game in New Orleans was embarrassing, a new low point for a team with a number of low points during the last decade. 

Still, and listen closely because this might be hard to fathom, there's a lot of football left this season. The Redskins remain firmly in the hunt in the NFC East. 

Washington is 2-2 on the season, and a win against the Panthers would give Washington a chance to catch their breath against the "cloud" of controversy encompassing the organization since the Monday night loss. Problem is winning isn't easy. 

  1. Been a long time - The last time the Redskins beat the Panthers, Jason Campbell was quarterback and Twitter had just been invented. That was 2006. Cam Newton hasn't lost to the Redskins in four tries, and he's been quite good in those contests. Washington has lost on the road, and at home. It's easy to say the Panthers play a more physical style than the Redskins, but that seems overly simple. Remember too, the 'Skins usually struggle to win two games in a row, but they often play well coming off a loss. 
  2. Can't be that bad - The Redskins secondary struggled immensely against the Saints. Drew Brees set a new NFL record against Washington, becoming the all-time passing yards leader in league history and throwing for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Washington's group was bad, but the good news is Cam Newton and the Panthers pass game has not been nearly as explosive. Coming into Week 6, Newton averages just 210 yards passing per game. Twice this year, Newton has thrown for less than 200 yards. Defensively, the Redskins have allowed under 230 yards-per-game through the air. 
  3. To your health - Washington is dealing with a number of injuries to significant players, starting with running back Adrian Peterson. The future Hall of Fame running back told reporters last week he separated his shoulder during the loss in New Orleans, and was spotted during the week with a heavy wrap on his knee. Peterson is expected to play on Sunday, but the receiver position is not nearly as certain. Josh Doctson missed the Saints game with a heel injury, but was back at practice this week. Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson missed time though. Early returns in a Redskins uniform show QB Alex Smith needs as many weapons as he can get, and it's hard to know how many of those will be on the field, and fully healthy, on Sunday. 
  4. All or nothing - In two wins this year, Washington has run the ball well. In two losses, the 'Skins run game has been terrible. Maybe there's a correlation? For years, the Panthers have been one of the toughest NFL squads to run the ball against. Carolina is giving up nearly 95 yards-per-game on the ground. The truth might be that the Redskins are borderline desperate for this win, and their offensive line has the talent to get push against most defenses. Will that be the group that shows up against a Top 10 rush defense like Carolina? 

They said it

  • Alex Smith reacting to the Saints loss: "You want to be real with yourself. I think every guy in there has got to look at themselves in the mirror and be real with themselves, things they have to get better at, need to get better at to help this team and we all have them. If you do that and then you do move on. It's one game."
  • Carolina coach Ron Rivera on facing the Redskins: "I think they are a good football team. I think they are very well coached. I think Jay [Gruden] does a great job with them."
  • Greg Manusky on facing Cam Newton: "He can do it all. Slide in the pocket, big frame guy, you've got to make sure you get bodies around him. He can scramble for a first down. He's a force and he always has been when he got in the league and we've got to go out there and make sure we win the game."
  • Josh Norman on his television aspirations: "I've been Hollywood since I came out my mother's womb."

News & Notes

  • Fabian Moreau  ranks second in the NFL in forced fumbles.
  • Alex Smith has not thrown for multiple touchdowns in back-to-back games since Week 16 and 17 of the 2015 season. 
  • In four starts against the Redskins, Cam Newton has nine passing touchdowns and no interceptions. 
  • With the Week 4 loss in New Orleans, Jay Gruden fell to 1-7 on Monday Night Football. 



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Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins played much of the Redskins Week 14 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a sprained ankle.

The rookie had a very noticeable limp and struggled to put weight on his bad leg. Haskins was clearly not at full health. Backup quarterback Case Keenum was seen warming up multiple times on the sideline, but never entered the game.

In the team's postgame press conference, interim head coach Bill Callahan said he never considered pulling Haskins from the game. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who was teammates with Haskins at Ohio State and has known the quarterback for a while, never thought that Haskins would exit the game, either.

"I know Dwayne. I've known him for a while now," McLaurin told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "He's a tough guy, and I feel like he gives us a good chance to win games. I knew if he was out there, he was going to be good to go. He was hobbled a little bit, but he wasn't going to use that as an excuse at all. It was cool to see him fight through it. We just hope that he can get healthy for next week."

McLaurin was then asked whether he thought Haskins should have been pulled. The wideout commended his quarterback for his toughness, and believes that will go a long way in terms of earning respect from his teammates.

"I mean, I'm not a doctor, so I feel like if you feel like you can play, then you try to play. Only that person knows how bad it is," McLaurin said. "He's a tough guy. He's a guy trying to earn the respect of this team. He's a quarterback, he's young. I feel like stuff like that really puts you in a step forward to get some respect. He was noticeably hurt and he fought for us."

Haskins finished 16-for-27 for 171 yards. He connected on an incredible late touchdown pass with McLaurin to pull the Redskins within five with just over a minute remaining in the game. On the two-point conversion try, Haskins put his body on the line, diving for the goal line headfirst. He didn't convert.

The Packers recovered the Redskins ensuing onside kick attempt, the Burgundy and Gold's final hope at pulling off the upset. 

The Redskins offensive line did not help out a hobbled Haskins much either. The rookie was sacked four times in the loss and hit the turf on numerous other occasions.

Although the Redskins weren't able to pull off the upset, Haskins showed poise and toughness by fighting through a noticeable injury and giving the Redskins everything he had.


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The Redskins’ far-fetched playoff dreams were officially dashed after losing to the Packers

The Redskins’ far-fetched playoff dreams were officially dashed after losing to the Packers

The Redskins entered Lambeau Field in Week 14 with a 3-9 record, but because the NFC East has been such a mess this year, they still had very slim playoff hopes. 

Thanks to their 20-15 loss against the Packers, however, those slim hopes are now nonexistent. Washington will not play in the postseason for the fourth straight campaign. 

The Burgundy and Gold would’ve had to finish by winning their final four contests and also would’ve needed major help from the Cowboys to the Eagles in order to sneak into the playoffs. That scoreboard watching isn’t necessary anymore, of course. 

“It’s tough being eliminated,” Terry McLaurin said in the visitor's locker room. “Our division is so open.”

Now, the team will use the next three weeks to further look at Dwayne Haskins’ growth as well as the development of other young pieces on both sides of the ball. Then, when those games wrap up, they’ll need to find a new head coach for 2020 and consider other possible changes within the franchise as well. 

When this season began back in July at training camp, there was some thought that the Redskins could compete behind a potentially improved defense and a run-centric offense. Those things didn’t emerge, though, and now, the organization will again be irrelevant on the field when January comes around.