Week 9: Carolina Panthers At Washington Redskins
- QuarterbacksCam Newton is having a lot of difficulty in his second season, as the Panthers are playing a lot of close but no cigar football. Newton had the Panthers on the verge of an upset victory over the Bears, but he threw a late interception when wide receiver Steve Smith fell down and Tim Jennings returned it for a touchdown. Newton is a brilliant talent, but he is playing as if he is just waiting to see what will happen next.Robert Griffin III has been a brilliant addition to the Redskins and he is in a position to hold the quarterback position for the next decade. While RGIII still has much to learn, he is completing 66.8 percent of his passes and he reads defenses well. RGIII is one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks due to his instincts and foot speed.
- OffenseThe Panthers are struggling to get their running game to produce consistently. James Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined for 75 rushing yards against the Bears and that’s not enough. Steve Smith is still a big-play receiver, but Brandon LaFell is not fast enough to break big plays.The Redskins are getting excellent production from veteran wide receiver Santana Moss. He is rapidly becoming RGIII’s favorite receiver because he can get open and break big plays. Leonard Hankerson is starting to get better. He has caught 23 passes so far this season. Hard-running Alfred Morris has rushed for 717 yards and five touchdowns.
- DefenseThe Panthers come after you with speed and aggressiveness. Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly is already a good player and he will soon be a great one. He had 10 tackles in the Week Eight loss to the Bears. Defensive end Greg Hardy had 3.0 sacks against Jay Cutler and he is a force rushing the passer.The Redskins struggled against the Steelers and they make mistakes on the defensive end, but one of their issues is not a lack of hustle. Ryan Kerrigan is a solid outside linebacker who has 24 tackles and 4.5 sacks. However, the Redskins have the most generous pass defense in the league and that’s going to be a major issue down the stretch.
- Special TeamsThe Panthers got outstanding production from placekicker Justin Medlock, who made 5-of-5 field goal attempts at Soldier Field. Punter Brad Nortman had one of the worst games of the year, averaging 25.7 yards on three punts.The Redskins are happy with new placekicker Kai Forbath, who has made all six of his field goal attempts following the disastrous reign of Billy Cundiff. Sav Rocca is not a great distance punter, but he has dropped nine punts inside the 20. Brandon Banks is a decent return man who has a long return of 55 yards so far this season.
The Redskins struggled in their Week Eight loss against the Steelers. They should have a much easier time establishing their offense at home against the struggling Panthers. Carolina came close to a huge upset against the Bears and Ron Rivera may have a hard time mustering a similar effort for a second week in a row.