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Need to Know: Motivations very different for Redskins and Panthers tonight

Need to Know: Motivations very different for Redskins and Panthers tonight

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 19, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the Chicago Bears.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Panthers, 8:25  

Days until: Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 5; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 13; Wild card playoff round starts 19

Injuries of note:
Out:
LB Cravens (elbow/illness)
Doubtful: LB Compton (knee)
Questionable: G Lauvao (groin), C Long (concussion), OT Nsekhe (ankle), TE Reed (shoulder), S Blackmon (concussion/thumb)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

—On the face of it, there couldn’t be more disparate levels of motivation for each team tonight. After the results of Sunday, the Panthers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (Correction: The Panthers do have a .0004 chance of making the playoffs. Among the things that would have to happen is the Redskins getting another tie in their last two games). They are now the 15th team to miss the playoffs the year after losing the Super Bowl. After the Cowboys’ win Buccaneers’ loss last night the Redskins can grab control of their own playoff destiny with a win tonight. If they win their last three games they will go to the postseason in two consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991-1992.

—I don’t want to get too deeply in psychoanalysis here but I do wonder what effect being eliminated from the playoffs will have on Cam Newton’s motivation tonight. After last year’s Super Bowl, he was clearly identified as being a bad loser. Even before his abbreviated press conference he chose not to go after a loose ball on the field, showing that when the odds are stacked against him he might just pack it in. Newton and the Panthers have won their division in each of the last three seasons. It will be interesting to see how much enthusiasm Newton has for the proceedings tonight, especially if the Redskins manage to get up by a couple of scores.

—On the team website Panthers coach Ron Rivera suggested that if Carolina is eliminated from playoff contention by kickoff, linebacker Luke Kuechly, probably their best defender, may be rested after missing the last three games with a concussion. Kuechly was cleared to play under the NFL’s concussion protocol but there is concern about his history with concussions. Such an injury forced him to miss three games last season as well. The Panthers defense will be considerably weaker if Kuechly, who was first-team All-Pro in each of the last three seasons, does not play.  

—The Panthers are exceptions to the rule that a good pass rush will lead to a good pass defense. Going into Week 15 they led the league in sacks with 39 but they are 22nd in the league allowing 7.6 yards per pass attempt and 20th in opponent passer rating at 92.5. The passing game is the Redskins’ strength as they get 8.2 yards per pass attempt (3rd), have a passer rating of 100.5 (5th), and have allowed just 18 sacks (3rd).

—This game is there for the taking for the Redskins. They are favored everywhere you look and their motivation for winning is clear. I like the matchup discussed above, the Redskins’ passing offense against the Panthers’ Josh Norman-less pass D. Still, the key could be if Rob Kelley can get 75 yards or so rushing to slow down the Carolina pass rush. I think that he gets is, or something close, and the Redskins come away with an atypical comfortable win.

Redskins 31, Panthers 14

Tandler on Twitter

This was tweeted prior to the Bucs’ loss to the Cowboys last night.

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Jay Gruden returns to NFL as Jaguars offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden returns to NFL as Jaguars offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden has found a new team in the NFL as he was named the Jacksonville Jaguars' newest offensive coordinator for the 2020 season, the team has announced.

This will be Gruden's return to the league after he was fired as the Washington Redskins head coach earlier this year. He was relieved from his duties after an 0-5 start, the team's worst start under his tenure. 

The offensive mind, that was previously an offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals during their playoff runs with Andy Dalton, will now look to rejuvenate the Jaguars' offense. For years Jacksonville has had one of the least productive offenses in the entire league.

Strapped to Blake Bortles for several seasons and then signing Nick Foles has not paid dividends for head coach Doug Marrone and his staff. Aside from their improbable run to the AFC Championship in the 2017 season, the team has finished as one of the bottom seven offenses in the league under his tenure. 

Gruden also takes this new job as the Jaguars quarterback position is unsettled.

Nick Foles was signed to a four-year $88 million deal last offseason but struggled after an injury derailed his season. When he returned, he eventually was benched after two straight weeks without a touchdown pass. Rookie Gardner Minshew filled in for Foles' place and put together an admirable 6-6 record as a starter, accounting for all six of the team's wins. 

While directing the offense in Cincinnati, Gruden led the Bengals to three straight seasons as one of the top-13 offenses in the league. Their best season they were ranked as high as fourth. However, that did not fully translate to Washington. The last two seasons saw the Redskins offense fall to one of the bottom four in the league. Their record was not much better under his guidance at 35-49-1.

He likely takes this position with a short leash as John DeFilippo was fired from the same position after one year on the job. 

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Report: Dan Snyder petitions state of Maryland for gambling license for new stadium

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USA Today Sports

Report: Dan Snyder petitions state of Maryland for gambling license for new stadium

As a return to the old RFK Stadium site for the Redskins seems less likely, Washington owner Dan Snyder appears to be moving forward with a new plan: Staying in Maryland but adding a gambling license. 

Snyder met with a number of Maryland lawmakers to discuss sports betting and acquiring a license for a new Redskins stadium, according to The Washington Post. The report contends Snyder wants to use "sports betting as part of an overall plan to build a domed stadium that could include hotels, offices and training facilities."

The story also suggests Snyder could build the stadium with his own money. 

The Redskins currently play their games in Maryland at FedEx Field and their lease runs through 2027. The stadium is dated and Snyder has openly talked about wanting a new facility for his team to play.

For years, publicly, Snyder has opined that his team belongs back in D.C. at the RFK site. At various times in the last two years that seemed plausible, but political red tape from the federal government continues to hold things up. The stadium sits on federal land, and while the city has tried to regain control of that site, it hasn't happened. Until the city takes control, which is far from happening, it seems unlikely the Redskins get back to the site. 

So if it's time to move forward with Maryland, it requires a bit of a fresh start. The Redskins and the state were holding talks about a land swap to build a new stadium near the MGM National Harbor along the Potomac River, but those talks stalled when it became obvious the team preferred a return to D.C.

Legalized sports betting in Maryland seems likely to hit the ballot this fall, and considering the state already has fully operational casinos, there's little reason to think the vote wouldn't pass.

That's the first step for the Redskins to get a sports betting license for their new stadium. The idea isn't novel; Ted Leonsis has been quite open about adding a sports book to Capital One Arena and already has an agreement with William Hill bookmakers to run the gambling operation. Similar deals are expected at Audi Field and Nationals Park. 

It remains a bit of a surprise that Virginia politicians seem willing to sit out the courtship of a new Redskins stadium. Former Governor Terry McAullife actively flirted with the idea of building a new Redskins stadium in the Commonwealth, but current Governor Ralph Northam almost seems disinterested in the idea. 

The Redskins practice facility is in Loudon County and the team holds training camp each summer in Richmond. The training camp deal is soon to expire and some believe if and when a new stadium facility gets built, that could also house training camp and practices. Currently, no professional sports teams play in Virginia, and the Commonwealth does not appear as near legalized sports gambling as Maryland or the District. 

Like anything with a gigantic project in a region with three different local governing bodies and the omnipresent specter of the federal government looming, a new Redskins stadium will require significant legislative hurdles and deal-making. Stay tuned. 

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