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Redskins vs Panthers Preview: 5 things to know with the playoffs on the line

Redskins vs Panthers Preview: 5 things to know with the playoffs on the line

The Redskins likely need to win out to make the playoffs - and that begins Monday night against a talented but troubled Panthers team. After a Super Bowl run last year, Carolina has struggled this season and is already eliminated from the postseason with three games remaining. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. at a cold but calm FedEx Field, but all the action starts on CSN at 7:30 p.m. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Slow starts - For the last three games the Redskins have allowed their opponent to march down the field after the opening kickoff and score points. Three weeks, 17 points allowed on the opening possession. The quick deficit has put added pressure on Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins offense, and in two of the three games, Washington has lost. Don't expect Jay Gruden to change his strategy, the coach prefers to defer when he wins the coin toss, but his team must focus on getting a stop early if the Panthers open the game with the ball. 
  2. Cats still bite - Yes the Panthers have been eliminated from the playoffs, but that doesn't mean their defense can't cause Washington trouble. Carolina is the No. 1 sack defense in football, and their front seven can absolutely create pressure on Cousins. Additionally, the Panthers are stout against the run, ranking fifth in the NFL against the rush and giving up just 3.7 yards-per-carry.
  3. Take the long road - Three weeks in a row DeSean Jackson has gotten open deep, and Cousins has connected with the speedster. Not only has that created instant offense for the Skins, but it also opens things up for Sean McVay's playbook. Another deep connection with Jackson should open more up for other wideouts Pierre Garçon and Jamison Crowder. 
  4. Missing in the middle - Rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens is out for the Redskins on Monday night, and it sure looks like Will Compton won't play either. That means a ton of snaps for Mason Foster and quite possibly Martrell Spaight's first NFL start. Can that duo handle the Panthers rush attack - which often features a healthy dose of Cam Newton - as well as stud tight end Greg Olsen? Those will be huge questions for Joe Barry's defense. 
  5. Speaking of the middle - The Redskins offense is loaded, but that doesn't mean the unit doesn't play its best when Jordan Reed is on the field. The star tight end is dealing with a very painful shoulder injury, and while he played last week in Philadelphia, Reed was limited to just 10 snaps. Gruden said this week he hopes to get more from Reed against Carolina, but that it's no certainty as he fights through the AC joint injury. More from Reed, especially if Panthers star LB Luke Kuechly misses the game, could be huge for the Redskins offense. 

Numbers & Notes:

  • Pierre Garçon needs to catch one pass to tie Art Monk for the most consecutive 65-catch seasons in team history (four, 1988-91).
  • Jordan Reed (242) needs to catch three passes to move past Don Warren (244) for third-most career receptions by a tight end and 12th most career receptions by any player in Redskins history.
  • A win Monday night would give the Redskins five-game home winning streaks in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1996-97 seasons.
  • Kirk Cousins needs just 122 yards passing to break his own team record for passing yards in a single season (4,166 in 2015). 
  • The Redskins defense ranks third in the NFC and fourth in the NFL in sacks (34).

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins Talk crew hosts NFL Draft live stream: How to watch and listen

Redskins Talk crew hosts NFL Draft live stream: How to watch and listen

Ever wanted to actually see JP Finlay jump out of his seat during a Redskins Talk podcast than just listen to him talk about jumping out of his seat? Well here's your chance.

With the long anticipated 2019 NFL Draft finally starting Thursday, Finlay, Pete Hailey, Mitch Tischler and a variety of guests will conquer the airways and discuss every surprise, victory, and (possbily) bad decision made throughout the offseason event on exclusive streams of the Redskins Talk pod.

Each week day, starting on Wednesday, April 24th and running through Monday, April 29th, you can join the gang on the MyTeams by NBC Sports App from 1 to 2 p.m. as they analyze the intricacies of every draft decision that's made and explain how those decisions will impact the Burgundy and Gold. The Redskins Talk crew will also host special coverage of Round 1 on Thursday, April 25th, beginning at 8 p.m., offering an in-depth anlysis up to and through the 'Skins' pick. 

So, if you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

Redskins Talk Podcast 2019 NFL Draft Special

CLICK HERE to watch the daily live stream of the Redskins Talk Podcast

When: 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. ET, Wednesdday, Thursday, Friday & Monday, with special coverage of the Redkins pick starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday

Live Stream: Click to stream Redskins Talk Podcast Live every day this week

Want to subscribe to Redskins Talk?: 
Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19\

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Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Daniel Jones seems unlikely to be the best quarterback in the 2019 rookie class. He also seems unlikely to be a bust.

Given the Redskins' history at the quarterback position, both recent and ancient, Jones’ lack of sexy upside might be his most attractive quality. 

Polarizing might not accurately portray this class of QBs. Divisive might be the better word. 

Kyler Murray ranks as the top prospect, and seems likely to be drafted first overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Still, some teams don’t believe he has the size or commitment to make it as an NFL signal caller.

After Murray there’s even less consensus. 

Dwayne Haskins has a big arm and great size, but only started one year in college and didn’t show much ability to read defenses in the Ohio State offense. Drew Lock makes some 'Wow!' plays, but then he also makes terrible plays. His most consistent traits are arm talent and inconsistency. 

In some order, Murray, Haskins and Lock probably mark the top three rated passers in the 2019 draft. 

Then comes Jones. 

The Duke quarterback does nothing that screams first-round pick. His combine numbers were good and his game film seems good. At the same time, there aren’t any real knocks against him either, other than Jones doesn’t have the super star potential the other three have shown. 

Jones isn’t a sexy pick. He’s not even a PG13 make-out scene pick. 

And that might be just what the Redskins want. 

For months, the Washington front office has repeatedly talked about being “close.” Close to what remains a question, but it must at least mean competing for the NFC East title and winning a playoff game. 

Well, of all the rookie passers, Jones might be the one that presents the least risk. He might not make jaw dropping deep throws or electric moves outside of the pocket, but he probably won’t throw 20-plus interceptions either. 

Last year, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith to run their offense. Smith’s best traits are controlling the football and making the smart, not sexy, play. 

You know what rookie could fit that mold? 

Certainly isn’t Murray. Probably isn’t Lock. And Haskins likely needs to sit a year to learn NFL offenses. 

Jones, however, has been playing in a pro system for years at Duke. He’s been coached by the Manning-Whisperer in David Cutcliffe. 

Veteran NFL personnel executives believe in Jones in a major way. Gil Brandt, a Hall of Fame former Cowboys GM, compared Jones to Peyton Manning. Seriously.

"When you watch him and you go back (20) years and watch Peyton Manning, you are watching the same guy. He's athletic," Brandt said on an SiriusXM pre-draft conference call. "He doesn't have a rocket for an arm, but neither did Peyton. Very smart."

ESPN's Mel Kiper believes Jones will be the best QB in this draft. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly thinks Jones is the most ready for the NFL of any 2019 passer.

Add all of that up, and the Redskins taking Jones with the 15th overall pick starts to make sense. Then go back and listen to some Jay Gruden quotes, and it makes even more sense. 

Speaking at the NFL League Meetings in Arizona last month, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden explained that he likes winning low-scoring, grinding football games. 

"You try to protect the football and let the strength of your football team carry you through the tough times and hopefully your team or offense or special teams or offense will come through and make a play at a critical time," Gruden said. " It was a great recipe for us early. I like playing that way."

Of the rookie quarterbacks the Redskins might be able to get, Jones could be best suited for that style, especially in 2019. Not every analyst believes in Jones, including NBC Sports' Chris Simms. He doesn't even rate Jones in the top four QBs available this fall.

Regardless of the analysts, the Redskins believe they’re close, and need a quarterback that won’t lose them games. Of the rookie collection, Jones best fits that role.

Just by his risk taking nature, Lock will probably lose some games as a rookie. Maybe throughout his career. Haskins can play but the speed of the NFL will require a major adjustment for his game. Murray is dynamic, but his skill set requires a complete offensive overhaul for whatever team takes him. 

Add any of those three QBs to the Redskins and it’s hard to imagine the team competing for the playoffs in 2019. In the penultimate year of his contract, Gruden needs to compete for the playoffs in 2019. 

Last season, ugly or not, the Redskins legitimately looked on their way to a playoff spot. In Week 10, the team was 6-3. Injuries derailed those plans, but the roadmap was established. 

Even at 6-3, the Redskins hardly played aesthetically pleasing football. It sure as hell wasn't sexy. 

If the Redskins want to recreate that formula, and build on it for the future, Jones might be the best pick. 

In football, in sports, even in life, sometimes the best course of action is to avoid a major mistake and play it safe. 

The Redskins tried to that last year with Smith, but a broken leg disrupted the plan. 

It's entirely possible the Redskins don't take a quarterback in the first round, but if they do, Jones offers the best chance for a mulligan.

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