The Washington Redskins (2-2) will host the Carolina Panthers (3-1) in an inter-conference affair this Sunday. Tensions are high in the nation’s capital, after an embarrassing defeat to the New Orleans Saints last Monday. So this week’s roundtable question is simple: “What needs to happen for the Redskins to win this Sunday?”
The Full Press Coverage (Redskins) team weighs in.
The Redskins win this game If we can stop the Carolina rushing attack. The Panthers enter FedEx with the league’s best rushing offense, averaging 154 yards/game. This approach allows the Panthers to control the ball for roughly 33 minutes per game, which ranks 5th in the league. If we want to win, we need to stop Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey from dictating the pace on Sunday.
Currently, the Panthers’ offense ranks 18th in the league in terms of yards per play (5.6), one behind the woeful Giants and ahead of the New York Jets. They are heavily dependent on McCaffrey’s rushing prowess (of 5.2 yards per carry) and Newton’s selective rushes in order to advance the ball. We shouldn’t be scared of them. In fact, we need to stack the box and force Newton to beat us with his arm.
Frankly, I’m not scared of it either. Cam currently has 883 passing yards, which ranks 27th in the league. In terms of passing touchdowns, he only has seven. This puts him in the ballpark of Sam Darnold, Derek Carr, and Eli Manning.
Due to Carolina’s limitations outside, McCaffrey is Cam’s most targeted receiver, and even he only has one receiving touchdown on the year. Force Cam to beat us.
On offense, we need to take advantage of the fact that Carolina gives up yards and big plays. Carolina has the fourth worst defense in terms of yards per play at 6.5, and they typically give up 375 yards per game. We need to make the most of our possessions and limit our turnovers. The Panthers have a plus 5 turnover differential on the season.
The Redskins win this game if the Offense can get going. Plain and simple. If the Redskins can’t get the most out of their skill players and can’t spread the field, then there will be a genuine reason for concern heading into Week 7.
1) Contain Christian McCaffrey: Per ESPN, McCaffrey is fourth in the league when it comes to touches per game. If the Panthers have found that it is ineffective to run the ball, they just decide to let McCaffrey get into space in the passing game and do his damage that way. Much like what he did against Atlanta in Week 2 when he had fourteen receptions for 102 yards.
I expect another week of heavy usage in the passing game for McCaffrey to expose match-ups against the Redskins linebackers. Coming up and chipping him in the backfield, or right when he gets to the line of scrimmage at the beginning of his routes, will break the flow of the play and could create opportunities for Kerrigan and company. Contain McCaffrey and the Redskins will own the field position battle.
2)Sustain multiple drives (6:00+) with touchdowns: The offense was completely inept at sustaining anything last week against New Orleans. This allowed for the defense to be on the field for extended periods of time and become gassed by the fourth quarter. I am not advocating for running the ball on first down every time, but there needs to be something done to extend the offenses time on the field. Keeping Cam and McCaffrey off the field is a plus but allowing your defense to rest against those two athletes is a plus-plus.
3) 10+ targets to Jordan Reed: Reed might as well have been a ghost wandering Bourbon Street against the Saints. He saw only 2 targets the entire night, all of them in the first half. With the lack of willingness by Alex Smith to take shots deep, the Redskins offense needs to start relying on their Pro-Bowl caliber Tight End to get involved. If there was ever a game for Jordan Reed to claim he is back, this is the one. Target Reed 10+ times and utilize him in the Red Zone for maximum damage.
The Redskins win this Sunday if they can keep Cam in the pocket and force him to throw the ball. The Panthers receivers are nothing special. Also, the Redskins need to limit McCaffrey’s efficiency. He does so much out of the backfield, he’s a huge weapon on their team that our defense has to manage.
Also, I think more aggressive play-calling would be beneficial. On both sides of the ball. The Redskins need to take some deep shots to P-Rich and open up the field. On defense, take the leash off the linebackers, and send some heat. However, I think the biggest thing though, is energy and tone. Need to set the tone early and carry that energy throughout the game
The Redskins will beat the Panthers and get to 3-2 If they can swarm the ball on defense and contain Cam Newton. You have to prepare for Newton as a running back at this point. Washington also needs to finish tackles and swarm the football. There were too many times on Monday night where easy tackles were flat out missed, and if everyone starts swarming the ball carrier, it will be much easier to slow down Carolina’s offense. As far as Offense goes, the Skins need to balance out running and passing. The Panthers defense isn’t the best in the NFL, but you can’t sleep on them. Alex Smith needs to hit open receivers and the line needs to open holes in the run game, while also giving Smith time to throw. If Washington can accomplish these goals, they should come out on top on Sunday.
Slow down Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. If the Redskins can do that, then they have a chance. Early on in the year, I did not see the Redskins winning this game and that was at a predicted 3-1 (read here).
In that snippet, I stated that Newton doesn’t have to rely on his feet as much now as he did in the past now that he has Christian McCaffrey in the backfield. I stand by that still today.
I asked on Twitter if this was a must win for the Skins, and right now it is. A tea with this much talent cannot start 2-3 and then head into Week 7 against Dallas behind the eight ball. If Washington beats Carolina, they can go into Week 8 with a 4-2 record as they prepare for a dismantled New York Giants squad.
Washington can keep this game close, but they lose this one, 28-21 as they fall to 2-3, one loss shy of my previous prediction at 3-2 early on.