What are the keys to a Redskins victory against the Panthers and did the Redskins make the right move by benching Rex Grossman?
I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Philly's offensive blueprint vs the Skins last week should be exactly how the John Beck era begins. How often did we see Vick do 7-step drops? Almost never. It was all quick throws, screens, slants, and draws. The Skins D never really had a chance to get to him. Why not do the same with Beck? Throwing jump balls down field with 5'10 WRs should never be in our game plan (yet somehow it was). Keep it simple and let the Panthers make the mistakes. After all, the Cats are 5th worst in turnover ratio at -5 (Skins are -3).
I think there are a couple keys to this game, and I said earlier this week that most do not surround the quarterback position. But one thing we absolutely have to do this week, that we didn't do last week, is get into a rhythm and set the tempo. I've never felt a coin toss was important as it was last week. I could just picture the Eagles getting the ball to start and ramming it down our throat, again. Luckily we got the Eagles off the field quickly, but then we couldn't set any sort of offensive rhythm. I think we really need to pound the rock against a Carolina front seven that really only features one good player, Charles Johnson. Offensive tempo also begins on special teams. Brandon Banks can be a lightning rod but he can also nearly kill a drive before it starts. I think continually starting drives at around the 15 yard line starts to wear on an offense and starts to form a mental hurdle. It's important for John Beck to be as comfortable as possible, and starting with 85 or 90 yards in front of you is not my idea of comfort.
I'm fully expecting the Skins front seven to have a big day versus Cam Newton and his offensive line. I think Juice Atogwe may be a key to this game, we need Landry rushing and then we need help against Smith, Olsen, Shockey, and LaFell. I don't think Newton will have much time to throw, but big plays need to be eliminated. One safety blanket the Redskins need to keep their eyes open for is Johnathan Stewart catching the ball out of the backfield, he has been very beneficial in the passing game for the Panthers this year.
While much will be made between the quarterback battle of John Beck vs Cam Newton, the biggest keys to the game involve the Redskins ability to run the football and stop the run.
There is little doubt that the Redskins defense is the heart and soul of this team, but their one weakness so far this season is their ability to stop the run. While the Redskins rank in the top half of teams in total yards allowed or yards per game, they are in a four way tie for 21st in the league for yards per carry. Their inability to stop the run with any consistency allowed both the Cowboys and Eagles beat the Redskins, and nearly allowed the Cardinals to come back. That is even more troubling this week as the Panther's three-headed monster of Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart ranks 5th in the league in yards per carry. If the Redskins are to win this game they need to stop the run and force Newton to pass.
On the flip side the Redskins also need to be able to run the ball themselves. Last week against Philly the Eagles ran all over the Redskins and held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game. That is exactly what Washington needs to do to win. The Redskins have to keep the ball out of the Panthers hands, and the best way to do that is to run the ball and control the clock. So far this season the Redskins have far too often asked their quarterback to win them games, and as we've seen that is a recipe for disaster. With a new signal caller, and two new offensive linemen the Redskins would be wise to put the ball in their running backs' hands. I think to do so they will need to get more creative in their play calling. Run more with wide receivers split out wide, hopefully opening up the middle, use end arounds, direct snaps to the back, pitch outs and delayed draws. These might not be typical Redskin plays, but it is quite clear that the regular Redskins rushing attack isn't working, and the loss of two linemen only make things worse. Keep Carolina guessing by showing them some different looks, and it should open up both the running game and the play action pass.
The key to beating Carolina to me comes down to the opening drives for both our offense and our defense. On offense, we have to kind of forget who the quarterback is and just move the ball down the field. We have to establish something right away on offense to get the other 10 guys on the field past the inevitable psychological block of having the new guy under center. A few first downs and some points on the board will go a long way towards getting our offense settled down. On defense, that first drive has to be about forcing the Panthers off the field immediately. Whether it be by turnover or by forcing a three-and-out, our defense has to have arguably its best drive out of the gate. Cam Newton will likely be playing behind an undrafted rookie right tackle. Kerrigan and Orakpo have to make him uncomfortable right away.
Though I advocated for keeping Rex Grossman at quarterback for another week, I can honestly say it doesn’t matter who is under center. I was most concerned about the "move" itself, thinking it was still too soon to make this kind of significant change. The truth is that either of these guys is capable of playing at a high enough level for us to win games. I like watching Shanahan go with the guy he has the most trust in at the moment, and I do believe we will be seeing Rex again this season.
The keys to a Redskins victory will not change much this weekend versus last. The Redskins MUST get the running game going early and often against the Panthers who have the league’s 31st ranked defense against the run, giving up 140.3 yards rushing a game on average. Two of the most overwhelming areas of concern should be winning the turnover battle and putting pressure on young rookie phenom, Cam Newton, who has averaged over 300 yards passing a game this year but has also thrown nine interceptions . Putting pressure on Newton shouldn’t be that much of a challenge as they have replaced the right side of their offensive line this season already due to injury and will more than likely have a undrafted rookie starting at RT this weekend for the first time. Look for Kerrakpo to be in full effect this weekend!
As far as the move to Beck, I don’t really think the Redskins had much choice in the matter, Rex has progressively gotten worse this season and after Beck came out and showed he could lead the offense last week it was time for a change. I look at it this way, John Beck cannot possibly do any worse than Rex did last weekend and the Redskins already know what Grossman brings to the table in crunch time, while Beck is still very much a mystery but also a player who is out to prove he is a NFL caliber quarterback.