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Tandler's Redskins Blog Ver. 12.08.06--Mike Wilbon is one of the most respected columnists out there but he's going to lose his reputation if he continues the shallow, vapid analysis he cranked out in his article today.

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Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Mike Wilbon. He is one of the most reasonable, knowledgeable, and respected newspaper columnists in the business. Rarely does he say or write something outrageous just for the sake of doing so or ask a question of a coach or athlete that is carefully crafted to draw attention to himself. This sets him apart from many of his brethren who have also become print/ESPN hybrids.

That’s why I was disappointed in his effort in today’s Post. Not that I disagree with his main thesis, that the Redskins desperately need a personnel manager who isn’t wearing a whistle. That is becoming more and more obvious every play that T. J. Duckett and Adam Archuleta watch. No, there were two points that he made that need to be examined here. First there was this one:

Look no further than the Redskins' loss to Atlanta four days ago. Okay, neophyte quarterback Jason Campbell certainly didn't have a good day. He played like what he is essentially -- a rookie. But Campbell was nowhere near as incompetent as his coaches on Sunday. How, in good conscience, could Al Saunders or Gibbs (and whoever else might have called plays) allow a kid making his third NFL start to throw 38 passes? Coaches talk all the time about how they must put players in position to do well. How does asking a newborn quarterback to throw 38 times work to his advantage?

Too busy traveling to the Monday night game city to do PTI or to wherever you’re doing the NBA pregame from, Mike, to do any more analysis of the Redskins game than to take a cursory glance at the final stats? If Wilbon had just taken a moment to pull up the Gamebook he could have figured out, just as I did, that in the first half when the Redskins had their 14-0 lead, Campbell threw 11 passes. In the third quarter, as the Redskins fell behind by three, the pace of passes increased slightly as Campbell threw seven times. Even after Atlanta took a 10-point lead with 12:26 to play Saunders tried not to place the entire game on Campbell’s shoulders. On the ensuing series Saunders called Ladell Betts’ number three times before calling for Campbell to throw. His third and two pass was incomplete. If anything, one might be tempted to call that series too conservative.

It was only after the Redskins regained possession with 6:22 left trailing by 10 that Campbell passes started to fill the air. In two futile attempts to score to try to pull the game out, Campbell threw 19 passes, exactly half of his total for the game. I don’t think that any reasonable person would conclude that Saunders was in a position where he had to call passes on virtually every single play. The game situation greatly inflated Campbell’s pass attempts. Anyone who was paying attention should know this and acknowledge it before taking potshots at the play calling.

And then, along those same lines, there’s this:

The Saunders experiment should be about over now. Twelve games of disaster isn't enough?

Mind you, Wilbon says this after stating that, “Any routine examination of the Redskins now reveals a team that constantly (and unsuccessfully) tries to remake itself. . .” in the second paragraph of the column. So since they try to remake themselves too often and that damages the team they should remake themselves again and get rid of Saunders? Again, he’s probably too busy to look it up but one can easily discover that the Chiefs’ offense struggled in Saunders’ first season calling the plays in Kansas City. I suppose that Wilbon would have had Dick Vermeil pull the plug on Saunders three quarters of the way through that season, too. Of course, once the Chiefs got things figured out they became the NFL’s most prolific offense for the next four seasons.

Let’s look at it this way—is it better to have Jason Campbell pass 19 times in the last six minutes of a game that this team is trailing by 10 points or to have him learning his seventh new offense in the past seven seasons.

Such "analysis" is more worthy of Wilbon’s vapid PTI and Washington Post sidekick that it is of a Pro Football Hall of Fame elector. Perhaps if he’s too busy to do the kind of in-depth analysis he needs to do in order to maintain his top-notch reputation he needs to hire a research assistant. I’m available, for the right price.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. It makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the Redskins fans on your shopping list. For details and ordering information go to

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The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

Every play in an NFL game is important but some matter to the outcome more than others. Here are the key plays in the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers.

1. Q1, 10:41 — Tress Way punts 51 yards to CAR 21, D.J. Moore to CAR 22 for 1 yard (Shaun Dion Hamilton). FUMBLES (Hamilton), RECOVERED by WAS-Jeremy Sprinkle at CAR 21. Sprinkle to CAR 22 for -1 yard. 

The Redskins did not get off to a promising start on offense as they went three and out on their first possession and punted. Panthers rookie D.J. Moore fielded the punt and tried to find some running room. He found Hamilton, who stripped the ball away and Sprinkle pounced on it.

It only took one play for the Redskins to cash in as Alex Smith found Vernon Davis wide open—as in nobody else in the picture open—for a touchdown to put the home team up 7-0. 

2. Q1, 8:50 — Alex Smith pass short middle to Jordan Reed to WAS 45 for 7 yards 

The Redskins were looking to add to their lead on their possession following the Davis touchdown. On third and eight at their own 38, Smith threw for Reed in the middle of the field. The pass was high and inside, forcing Reed to jump, reach back and stab the ball with his right hand. It was a true one-handed catch because he never touched the ball with his left hand. 

The only thing Reed did wrong on that play was to signal for a first down. It was short, but Smith got the first with a sneak on the next play. Some Adrian Peterson runs and a 21-yard pass from Smith to Davis helped get the Redskins down to the two-yard line. On third down from there, Smith found Paul Richardson for a TD to make it 14-0.

3. Q2, 11:32 — Cam Newton pass short middle to Moore to WAS 37 for 17 yards (Josh Norman). FUMBLES (Norman), RECOVERED by WAS -Mason Foster at WAS 33. 

Norman got his first interception since 2016 earlier in the second quarter but the offense couldn’t do anything with the possession. The next time the Panthers had the ball, Newton went to Moore on a crossing Pattern. He had some running room and it looked like the Panthers would advance well into Redskins territory. But as defenders converged on Moore, Norman reached in and stripped the ball out. “He never saw me coming,” said Norman. Foster recovered, and the Redskins drove for a field goal to go up 17-0. 

4. Q4, 13:43 — Alex Smith sacked at CAR 46 for -6 yards (Julius Peppers). FUMBLES (Peppers), recovered by WAS-Trent Williams at CAR 46. Williams to CAR 38 for 8 yards.

The Panthers had rallied to make it a one-score game at 17-9. On third and seven from the Carolina 40, Smith was immediately swarmed by the pass rush. The ball popped out and it fell into the hands of Williams to the left of the scrum. Going on sheer instinct, Williams headed upfield. Starting from six yards behind the line of scrimmage Williams rumbled eight yards for a net gain of two. That’s not much but it was enough to have Jay Gruden send Dustin Hopkins into the game to attempt a 56-yard field goal. The boot just made it over the uprights and Hopkins’ career-long kick had the Redskins up by two scores at 20-9. 

5. Q4, 0:38 — Cam Newton pass incomplete short right to Jarius Wright.

After the Redskins kicked a field goal to go up by six, Newton led a final drive that kept everyone on edge. Starting with 3:15 to play, Newton was sharp, completing six of seven passes for 50 yards to move the Panthers from their own 16 to second and five at the Washington 16. The Washington defense finally stiffened, and Newton’s next three passes fell incomplete. The last one went harmlessly to the ground, not particularly close to Wright or any other receiver. The Redskins and their fans could finally exhale and celebrate. 



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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 15, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking points

Here are the players who saw their stock go up against the Panthers on Sunday and others who saw their stocks drop. 

Stock up—A few days ago, CB Josh Norman was a penny stock. He had mixed up assignments in the blowout loss to the Saints and take a ton of criticism after the game, much of it warranted. During the Panthers game, he was a blue chip. Norman got his first interception in 20 games and he forced a fumble. There is still a lot of season to be played but for now, at least it’s good to be Josh Norman.

Stock down—They won the game and that’s the quarterback’s main job. But for the second straight game, Alex Smith did not play up to his $18.4 million cap number. He passed for 163 yards. At times you really wondered where he was throwing the ball and/or to whom he was throwing it. They were able to win thanks to Adrian Peterson’s rushing and three takeaways. To Smith’s credit, he protected the ball well and it should be noted he was without favorite targets, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder. Regardless, it was not a sharp performance by Smith. 

Stock upPeterson came into the game with an injured ankle, knee, and shoulder. Not only did he fight through the pain, he thrived. Six days after he rushed for just six yards against the Saints and sat out most of the second half, he picked up 97 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Peterson did rip off a 19-yard run but mostly it was three yards here, six yards there. It was what the Redskins were expecting when the signed him. 

Stock down—With Thompson out, Kapri Bibbs had his big chance to show what he can do. He didn’t do much. Bibbs, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this season, picked up 11 yards rushing on two carries and he caught one pass for six yards. There were some high hopes for Bibbs among Redskins fans. For today, he didn’t live up to them. 

Stock up—I know that Daron Payne didn’t make a ton of plays and his streak of games with at least one sack ended at two. But he was part of a defensive front that held Christian McCaffrey, who came into the game averaging 82.3 rushing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and 5.2 yards per attempt, to 20 yards on eight attempts, a 2.5 per carry average. And he made a remarkable play, which is becoming routine for him, when he made the tackle on a tight end who had taken a screen pass well outside of the numbers. He’s a special talent and his stock will continue to rise. 

The agenda

Today: Open locker room 11:30; Jay Gruden press conference 3:00 

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Giants 13; Redskins @ Eagles 49