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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was — Dumb mistakes, Trent Williams on inconsistency

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was — Dumb mistakes, Trent Williams on inconsistency

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, October 13, one day before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Talking points

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Will Josh Norman return in 2019? I have to say that I may have been premature in writing this. I did get a lot of questions about his future and what the cap consequences would be if the Redskins were to move on. But as a writer who tries to be careful of making conclusions based on a small sample size, perhaps I should have held off. Although if I had to bet now, I would say that he’ll be a cap casualty next year, but there is plenty of season left to change that narrative.

Tandler's five observations after the debacle in the dome—The worst aspect of the loss was all of the dumb mistakes the Redskins made, especially on defense. At the top of the list was Montae Nicholson’s unnecessary roughness penalty, but a bag full of blown coverages, blocking assignment mix-ups and missed open receivers contributed. I think that nearly every other NFL team would have lost to the Saints given that it was a big night for Drew Brees. But most would have been more competitive than the Redskins were. 

"An absolute embarrassment"—Ok, Jay. Go do something about it. 

Redskins have lost five straight to Panthers—I’m sure you’ve heard that the Redskins have not beaten a Panthers team quarterbacked by Cam Newton, losing all four times by double digits. Add one game before Newton arrived on the scene, and you have to go back to 2006 to find the last time the Redskins beat the Panthers.

Normally, I’d say that past results have very limited meaning. I don’t read too much into it, but I think that the Redskins have problems dealing with teams that are physical in nature, and the Panthers have had that identity going back to before Cam arrived. So, this goes into the “bad matchup” category, which spells trouble for the home team. 

Tweet of the week

The Redskins are 1-1 in their last two games, 2-2 this season, 3-3 in their last six games, and 5-5 in their last 10. Since Week 11 in 2016, they have three two-game winning streaks and five two-game losing streaks (including one that spanned two seasons). There have been no winning or losing streaks of longer than two games. They have been the very definition of mediocre. 

Trent’s full remarks on the topic of inconsistency are here on my Facebook page. He has the problem well diagnosed, but the solution escapes him, just like it does Jay Gruden and anyone else you might ask about it. 

Gruden used to have it figured out. The team had a four-game winning streak to close out the 2015 season, and another four-game streak from Week 3 through Week 6 in 2016. Since then, Gruden appears to have lost the formula to create more than a couple of consecutive wins. Unless he finds it, the Redskins are going to have a hard time finding their way back to relevance. 

The agenda

Today: No media availability

Upcoming: Panthers @ Redskins 1 day; Cowboys @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Giants 15


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Need to Know: Tale of the tape — Redskins vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Tale of the tape — Redskins vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 12, two days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Talking Points

Here is how the Redskins stack up against the Panthers, position by position:

The chances are good that Alex Smith will bounce back after a very disappointing outing against the Saints. His 2018 numbers are almost identical to those of the Panthers’ Cam Newton. Although Smith can run some, Newton’s average of nearly five yards per carry and three TDs give him the edge. 

Slight advantage Panthers

Running Back
This is really a two for one comparison. For the Redskins, Adrian Peterson covers first and second downs and Chris Thompson comes in for passing situations. For Carolina, Christian McCaffrey does it all. No other running back on the team has more than 16 rushing attempts or one reception. McCaffrey may be more effective than either Redskin individually but the combination favors Washington. 

Slight advantage Redskins

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tight end Greg Olson may play for the Panthers for the first time this year after recovering from a broken foot. Even if he is effective he will be just the third-best TE on the field behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. There are plenty of complaints about the Redskins wide receiver corps, but the Panthers top trio of Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith, and Jarius Wright hasn’t been much more productive. 

Advantage Redskins

Offensive line
Panthers center Ryan Kalil has a couple of first-team All-Pro entries on his resume, and even at age 33, he’s a solid center. Right guard Trai Turner has been to the last three Pro Bowls. The rest of the line, with Chris Clark and Taylor Moton at the tackle spots and Greg Van Roten at left guard, is nothing special. The Redskins are better at three of the five spots, giving them the edge here. 

Advantage Redskins

Defensive Front Seven
Here the edge swings back to the Panthers. You have to like how the Redskins’ interior line is coming along but Carolina defensive tackles Kawaan Short and Dontari Poe have been doing it well for a long time. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is one of the best in the business when healthy and he appears to be good to go now. The Redskins have the better edge rushers, assuming Preston Smith gets rolling. Maybe the Washington D-line can make some noise in this game but for now, Carolina is the better unit. 

Advantage Panthers

Even after the debacle against Drew Brees and the Saints, the Redskins are still in the top 10 in pass defense DVOA, sitting in tenth at -0.6%. The Panthers are near the bottom of the league at 27th with a DVOA of 23.3% (remember that lower/negative numbers are better in defensive DVOA). Assuming that Josh Norman is able to pull it back together, the Redskins have a solid advantage here. 

Advantage Redskins

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The agenda

Today: Practice 12:15; Jay Gruden press conference and open locker room after practice, approx. 2:00

Upcoming: Panthers @ Redskins 2 days; Cowboys @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Giants 16





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Need to Know: Five Redskins to watch vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Five Redskins to watch vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 10, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Talking points

After a bad loss in New Orleans, a number of Redskins will be in the spotlight on Sunday. Here are five players to watch during Redskins vs. Panthers.

QB Alex Smith

Against the Saints, Smith posted a passer rating of 69.9, his worst since he had a 56.1 rating for the Chiefs in a December 2016 game against the Titans. Usually, Smith is on this list just because he is the quarterback and he doesn’t play well the Redskins are unlikely to win. But after a performance like he had against the Saints he will be under the microscope much more than usual. A few poor performances in a row and chatter about his age and his fit in the offense will grow. 

G Brandon Scherff

The offensive line has been inconsistent, and Scherff has been part of their problems. In the last two games, he has allowed a sack, a QB hit, and two hurries. Those aren’t bad numbers for your average NFL guard but typically Scherff doesn’t allow the quarterback to get bothered that often in a month’s worth of games. Scherff going to get paid $12.5 million under his fifth-year option next year and he’s going to be looking for a long-term deal that pays him at least that much annually. He needs to be much better.

TE Jordan Reed

Reed was getting on a roll before Monday night. He averaged 4.6 receptions and 56 yards before getting just one for 21 yards in New Orleans. Since the start of the season, Reed’s workload has remained on the light side, around 40 snaps per game as he continues to work his way back from toe surgery that limited his offseason conditioning program. He will get worked into the lineup more and more often over the next few weeks and any game he could explode with a 100-yard, multi-touchdown game. 

OLB Preston Smith

Ryan Kerrigan got out of the zero-sack club against the Saints and now it’s Smith’s turn. At this point last year Smith had four sacks. And he finished with eight. He also got off to a slow start in 2016 with no sacks through his first five games and he finished the year with 4.5. A similar performance this year would not look good on his resume and it won’t help his ability to collect big money as a free agent when the season is over. 

CB Josh Norman

I don’t think you need much elaboration here. He was bad enough against the Saints to get benched for a series after halftime. Former teammate DeAngelo Hall said that Norman is more focused on being a celebrity than he is about being a good player. His first interception since Christmas Eve in 2016 would go a long way towards quieting the noise. 

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The agenda

Today: Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky press conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Panthers @ Redskins 3 days; Cowboys @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Giants 17