Transitional seems to be a good way to describe the Panthers defense heading into Week 7. After a disastrous series of injuries to Kory Lichtensteiger and Trent Williams, UkRedskin did his usual phenomenal job dissecting a style of play we weren't expecting from the Redskins this season. To me, this further emphasizes the importance of asserting (condensing from the ether?) our offensive identity on Sunday.
There are a few conclusions one might draw from Week 6:
- The modified line play was always the backup if critical injuries occurred.
- Kyle Shanahan outthought himself over the bye trying to blow the Eagles open and take advantage of Juan Castillo.
- Either Kyle or Mike suffered a loss of faith in the running game. Questions about whether they had it in the first place should be directed to the overflow thread.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the offense (even if it were particularly healthy). Our depth (what depth?) is being tested and is going to be a compelling subplot for me come Sunday. Injuries happen and good (read: playoff-caliber) coordinators adapt and even excel in these situations. Kyle Shanahan's scheming, even pitting a gutshot offense against a defense we're apparently expected to light up for some reason, should be indicative of his ability to survive crucial injury several years down the road, when we're all living and dying with every game and the future is now.
The offensive line is not only decimated, but in flux. At this point, if the rumors are to be believed, we'll see Jammal Brown at LT, Will Montgomery at LG, Erik Cook at C, Chris Chester at RG, and Sean Locklear at RT. Nobody knows what the hell that's going to look like, and I'm glad we'll have someone under Center with mobility (cue: crucial sack/fumble). In theory these guys know what to do, but whether or the zone-blocking scheme can be effective with so much turmoil is a difficult question, especially given its limited success thus far.
I'm going to look for Ryan Torain early against Carolina, because despite Tim Hightower's superior pass protection, I believe Torain's running provides the best insurance against the hiccups that are depressingly likely. But if you held a gun to my head, I couldn't commit to anything. Efforts to predict what's going to happen in our backfield have been futile. It could be anybody's game, though I'm sure tired of it being nobody in the red zone. Limitations with the ZBS aside, I'm ready to see one of our backs find some success inside the twenty.
As everyone's heard a zillion times, Sean Locklear rates pretty highly in pass protection and we'll probably see Beck rolling right quite a bit. In any case, as UkRedskin said, the offensive identity is at stake. Keep that in mind on Sunday. If the playcalling is business as usual with a few tweaks thrown in, that's just adaptation. But if there's something a little more alien like we saw against the Eagles, there might be a loss of confidence deeper than John Beck starting in place of Rex Grossman.