The Redskins face a Carolina team on Monday night that looks a little different than they did last year and how most Redskins fans expected them to at this time in the season when the schedule came out for this year. I asked Jaxon of Cat Scratch Reader a few questions about this squad. Here’s what we talked about:
Do you (and the Panther fan-base in general) miss Josh Norman? Are there any regrets? Why or why not?
I think it is safe to say everyone misses Josh’s contribution to the team on the field. There is no doubt this team would have fared better earlier in the season if they had Josh in the secondary. But I see the impact only being short term, ie the 2016 season. We are very happy with the development of the two rookie CBs in James Bradberry and Darryl Worley so in that regard and not having to pay Josh’s exorbitant salary the Panthers will be better off come 2017 and beyond (we hope).
The Panther brass won’t talk about it but we all wish things could have gone differently. I don’t understand what was so wrong with having him play on the franchise tag for a season. It seems someone had a knee jerk reaction. But hey our loss was your gain.
The Panthers have a great DL/pass rush. The Redskins have a young, talented OL that's been playing lights-out lately. What should we expect from this match-up?
The Panthers defense focuses first on stopping the run to set up third and long. If the Redskins can run the ball early that will dictate a lot the rest of the game. The Panthers will try to get pressure with just their front four which will be a tall order because DTs Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei are tough to block. They have also been effective at bringer a random blitzer which could be a LB, S or CB, they change it up. If your line stays disciplined they should be okay provided they don’t lose their one on one match-ups too often.
The X-Factor at the moment is whether Luke Kuechly will return. He is key to the run support and pass protection on the TE. We know the Redskins love to throw to TE Jordan Reed, one of the Panthers weaknesses this season. Getting Luke back after being out three games would be huge, which I do expect him back.
The Redskins boast an excellent pass rush, as well. What's the Panthers' OL looking like these days?
Well considering we are starting four guards and a tackle it really couldn’t be much worse (knock on wood). I will say that this will be their 4th game in row with the same starting five so they are starting to gel somewhat. We are most vulnerable on the edges but with four guards pretty solid at pulling and running the ball with misdirection. Like us the key for the Redskin defense is stopping RB Jonathan Stewart early and forcing Newton to throw the ball on 3rd down. His accuracy on short passes has gotten progressively worse the past couple of games for some reason. If you give Newton time then he will look downfield where we have had some success with TE Greg Olsen and WR Ted Ginn.
Who's one player who has over-performed for Carolina this year and one player who's under-performed?
Good question. Both of my examples come from the DE position. Third down pass rushing special Mario Addison has really turned it on this season as he leads the team with 7.5 sacks even though he’s missed a couple games because of injury. He will line up on the LT on 3rd and long and hope to get the edge.
After getting three sacks in SB 50 we really thought Kony Ealy would have a big season but it just hasn’t happened (3.0 sacks). In fact he had been somewhat benched until Charles Johnson got hurt. The Panthers had decided Ealy was more effective on the right side and so they had him backing up Charles Johnson. Ealy is starting now that Johnson injured his hamstring.
Who wins, what's the score, and why?
Given how potent the Redskin offense has been versus the inept Panther offensive line I doubt we can keep up with the Redskins, especially on the road. Plus the Redskins are fighting for a playoff slot. I rarely predict a Panther loss as I’m such a Homer but this one is tough to call a win.
Redskins 31 Panthers 21