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Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up vs. the Panthers

Nov 20, 2015, 5:06 AM EDT

Jackson-vs-Patriots

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, November 20, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Five players who will need to shine on Sunday

The Redskins chances of upsetting the Panthers are pretty slim but, as we said here the other day, yes, we’re saying there’s a chance. If they are going to pull it off some players are going to have to step up and play big.

QB Kirk Cousins—They have held opposing quarterbacks to a miniscule passer rating of 69.1. If Cousins has a day like that, which would be completing 20 of 35 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, the Redskins will be in trouble.

RB Chris Thompson—Alfred Morris and Matt Jones should be able to ground out some yards against the Panthers. But they are going to need some chunks of yardage and Thompson is the guy who could get them on the ground or with a quick pass out of the backfield.

WR DeSean Jackson—Thompson can get the Redskins some chunks of yardage; Jackson can get them huge chunks of yardage. This will be his third game back after missing most of the first seven games with a hamstring injury. He made one big play early in the game last week and then pretty much disappeared. Jackson needs to have four productive quarters not only for the sake of having a chance against the Panthers but to give the team a life down the stretch run.

S Dashon Goldson—I’d think that he will have a role in covering tight end Greg Olsen. Goldson hasn’t exactly excelled in coverage this year but he has improved lately and he’ll need to be at his best on Sunday.

ILB Will Compton—Someone at inside linebacker will need to try to keep Cam Newton from rushing for 70 yards. I would have gone with Keenan Robinson up until a few weeks ago but it appears that either injuries or perhaps him worrying about his contract status have made this a lost year for Robinson. I don’t think that Joe Barry will use Compton as a spy on Newton but Compton will be tracking him a lot and he will need to bring the quarterback down or at least hold him up until help arrives.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:55; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Panthers 2; Giants @ Redskins 9; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 17

In case you missed it

  1. garg8050 - Nov 20, 2015 at 5:56 AM

    I know this is usually limited to players, but i think Joe Barry should be on this list as well. I would like to see the ‘Skins defense be aggressive, put 8 men in the box, and take their chances one on one with the Panthers WR’s. Especially with their corners getting healthy, it will allow an extra player in the box and hopefully help control both Stewart and Newton in the running game.

    • colmac69 - Nov 20, 2015 at 7:26 AM

      I agree….load box and take our chances…force newton to bt us through air…Yeh he prob hit a few but his comp rate is mid 50,s and he struggles on certain routes to put ball on money..

      I think our corners play better in man coverage and I will take olsen getting 10 catches than having running game and newton beating us with his feet…..tackling will nd to b spot on though

      Plus it’s element of surprise if defense plays differently to what carolina xpect….might b only for a qtr but will make panthers think lot more

      • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 7:56 AM

        Agreed.

    • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 7:30 AM

      I too would like to see Barry be more aggressive but I’d like to see it in the form of blitzing. Last week, Tennessee got five sacks off blitzing more. That is where the Redskins can improve. Eight men in the box? When your defense has proven to be undisciplined in the run game that is high risk. If anyone misses their assignment the result is a huge run.

      Alfred Morris had a 12-yard run on a simple trap. Why? An aggressive defense. Directly after the Jackson pass – with Jackson now on the bench, the Saints had seven in the box with a single high safety. Except the Saints had their other DBs in tight bump and run coverage and their seven defenders in the box were all on the line a scrimmage.

      • Trey Gregory - Nov 20, 2015 at 5:31 PM

        When he said 8 in the box I don’t think he meant exclusively to blitz. I think he meant to stop the run as well. That’s usually what people mean when they say load the box because it doesn’t mean all 8 are going to blitz. It means focus on the run and dare them to throw. Don’t drop guys in coverage, comitt to stopping the run.

        I would like to see this too. Maybe not at the expense of our defense being 1 dimensional, but I would like to see a loaded box on a lot of plays. I don’t think we win this game if we can’t stop their run.

        Especially with our corners getting healthy. They aren’t an elite bunch, but Carolina’s WRs are pedestrian at best. I also think they collectively lead the league in drops. Just one more reason to dare them to throw. I think Cam is a special QB, but he doesn’t have the talent around him and he does better when their run game is going. We have to make them one dimensional.

        • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 7:12 PM

          Trey, I think you misread my post. I agree that we need to stop the run. I also agree that “I would like to see the ‘Skins defense be aggressive,” BUT that is in pass rush – for the reasons you mentioned about our corners and their receivers. I am not advocating putting an extra guy in the box to blitz. But most importantly, I DISAGREE that we should use an extra guy in the box to stop the run. Maybe we have to but this defense is getting gashed in the run game when they miss an assignment. When you have 8 in the box AND miss an assignment, that’s a recipe for disaster – especially if you have your corners playing a tight man-to-man. That’s potential for multiple 20+ runs.

          I used the Saints defense as an example of an aggressive defense giving up the 12-yard run to Morris. Alfred breaks an arm tackle but that arm tackle saved the Saints from a huge run. It slowed Morris down enough to be gang tackled. If not, it was Morris one-on-one with the single high safety. I know we no longer have Baccari Rambo back there, but do we really want to see DeAngelo Williams one-on-one with Jeron Johnson or Kyshoen Jarrett. (Even though, Goldson is listed as the FS, I haven’t seen him lined up as the single high safety.) My answer, is no.

          Will Compton is going to get these guys lined where they’re supposed to be and they’re going to stop the run. I’d be curious to know how often we’ve used 8 in the box in the past because inevitably some knucklehead is going to claim that that is the reason we stop the run if we do. Like it couldn’t be better execution. One thing folks here are forgetting is that we are getting healthier as a team in the backfield and say what you will but when our defensive backs were healthy our team was better at run defense.

    • rtcwon - Nov 20, 2015 at 2:15 PM

      I too am very curious how Barry will scheme this up. Unlike most, I’m perfectly fine with the conservative bend but don’t break that is more likely.

      My intrigue is what he does with Olsen. Against NE, they clearly employed a set of “Gronk rules.” While it was successful in containing him, the “Gronk rules” forced Riley to think, not his strength as an instinctive player. So in the run game, Riley often ended up just watching Gronk take care of his blocking assignment, effectively eliminating two guys.

      Does Barry use the same “Gronk rules” to contain Olsen in exchange for getting gashed by the run. Or does he shift the cerebral burden to Compton and allow Riley to just ball out? Or does he not view Olsen as the threat Gronk was and attempt to scheme out their run attack instead?

  2. sidepull - Nov 20, 2015 at 6:07 AM

    Thats a bit of a scary image, Goldson in coverage on Olson, Riley in coverage on Olson, somebody give them some help. Jordan Reed better be our match-up counter….

  3. abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 6:13 AM

    My tops are DeSean and Dashon.

    Those guys are getting paid a lot of money to play at near a pro bowl level or at a pro bowl level and we haven’t seen if from Dashon all year nor from DeSean because of his injury.

    This is the time & this is the game for us to make a statement in the NFC that we are for real. A win in Carolina would be huge and these two need to play at an elite level.

    Goldson really needs to shut down Olsen and not miss tackles in the run game, DeSean needs to get open deep.

    The other guys you mentioned will be just fine IMO. The only problem Thompson has is McGruden doesn’t play him enough on 3rd downs, he’s uncoverable by a LB everyone knows this! Take advantage of the mismatch more – he’s our Dion Lewis.

    • sidepull - Nov 20, 2015 at 7:43 AM

      I like the Dion Lewis comparison. Fits well.

    • ET - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      I basically agree, though Dashon is also getting paid to be a leader / field commander / veteran presence, which he seems pretty good at (much like Clark before him). Hopefully he can kick it up a notch in the coverage and tackling departments. Getting Hall and Culliver back on the field will certainly help.

      • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 2:33 PM

        Culliver sucked last game and Hall wasn’t too much better. Teams aren’t even throwing at Breeland.

        • ET - Nov 20, 2015 at 4:00 PM

          Agree that neither Hall nor Culliver is back in optimal form yet, but A.) I wouldn’t say they “sucked,” and B.) having those extra bodies back in the DB rotation is a huge relief. We’re damn lucky that Blackmon and Jarrett were able to step in and contribute.

        • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 4:42 PM

          Culliver sucked. He had too soft coverage on Cooks on the 70 yard TD. Of course it Johnsons’ fault that he actually scored because he blew r it deep but Culliver didn’t play him tight to begin with.

          Then Culliver gave up many short passes because of soft coverage.

          He was bad. I think Cooley gave him a C- as a grade for the game.

          He hasn’t really an upgrade since he hurt his knee. I think Blackmon has been the real find! We have to re-sign that guy to be our 3rd corner next year.

  4. voice4thefans - Nov 20, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    Take my word the run to the playoff started last week and we will not lose again until January

  5. voice4thefans - Nov 20, 2015 at 6:52 AM

    Take my word the run to the playoff started last week and we will not lose again until January win or lose we are still in the playoff picture and beating the Giants is the more important game for us

    • greed - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      wont loose til jan.! What are u smoking?

    • squawonthewarpath - Nov 20, 2015 at 6:50 PM

      I wouldn’t go that far. However, I think most will agree that the overall team performance thus far this season has turned out better than anyone anticipated.

  6. warpath1 - Nov 20, 2015 at 7:13 AM

    I can’t say That any individual player could have an impact, just that he offense has to keep the ball out of cams hands. Don’t drop balls, fumble, just everyone doing what they are supposed to do. If a win is possible, it won’t be pretty, just grind it out prize fight. And someone please show Golston how to tackle and wrap up with his arms. HTTR

  7. skinsgame - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:06 AM

    This would be a good week to see Preston Smith break out. He’s athletic enough to hang with Newton as a shadow and pester him all day.

    • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:21 AM

      Smith needs to hustle more, I still don’t think he’s 100% on the defense, it’s a totally new scheme for him vs what he did in college which was be a strong side DE and a 3 technique on passing downs.

      He’s athletic enough to make the plays but doesn’t understand the converage concepts is not used to dropping Ito coverage and he’s thinking too much, that’s why Murphy (unfortunately) plays twice as many snaps.

  8. vcuramsfan - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:21 AM

    I’d like to see Kerrigan do SOMETHING!

    • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:23 AM

      I think he should take a few weeks off, rest his knee and hand and Coke back for the final push where we have 4 Divison games. I don’t think he’s 100% with that knee.

      • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:17 AM

        But if he’s getting paid like an All-Pro…

        I agree that the knee isn’t 100% but any rest should’ve happened already. It’s a down year for him. He’s either never going to get that knee back to what it was and has to learn how to play with it as it is or the offseason is the time to get the TIME needed for the knee.

        • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:48 AM

          Meanwhile … 7 sacks for that other guy

  9. murphsman - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    Why does this list not comfort me? I haven’t seen anyone besides Captain Kirk prove they can step up when they need to.

    • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:28 AM

      Pierre Garcon stepped up in the Eagle game. Jordan Reed stepped up in the Tampa Bay game. The d-line stepped up in the Saint game.

      Will Compton is a baby-faced assassin! I hope his play from last week carries over and he steps it up. All of the guys on this list have shown flashes. Goldson was named captain by his team mates. Jackson has the ability to turn this game in a rout for the Redskins – despite a solid secondary and a fantastic corner in Norman. Thompson has the ability to make those linebackers play roles they’re not used to. Cousins, if he elevates his game, will get those Redskins fans screaming at that stadium. There will probably be more ‘skins fans there then at the home game against the Dolphins. I like our chances to not only pull off an upset IF these five guys step up but win by double digits.

      Let the doubt begin.

      • ET - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:24 AM

        “Will Compton is a baby-faced assassin! I hope his play from last week carries over and he steps it up.”

        I’ve previously thought of Compton as Just A Guy (a very nice, hard-working Just A Guy) best suited for a limited role. He’s completely earned his reps this year, however. I hope he keeps it up!

        • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 1:48 PM

          Agreed, ET. I have gone overboard on Compton after one performance as the defensive play caller. I admit it. Either I was wrong about Compton being just a guy (which I hope) or that I’m wrong on my current praise for him. It’s hard not to root for overachievers or guys that get the maximum out of their God-given abilities. Compton, also made the case for Kedric Golston being on the team in a Keim piece over a week ago – the dude apparently gives “super” inspired pre-game speeches.

      • 226thebeatdontstop - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:37 AM

        Have you been watching the games, the Redskin linebackers have been weak against the run and pass.. None of them can handle Cam or the tightend, watch an weep Sunday

        • hail74 - Nov 20, 2015 at 12:06 PM

          I know your talking LBs but the D held Gronk to 4/47 so perhaps that’s the game plan for Olsen.

        • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 1:59 PM

          Spoken like a true fan…
          …a fan from North Carolina.

          The linebackers as a unit has been less than perfect and often less than average. Fortunately there are several other units. Let’s hear your tune on Monday. You’ll be jumping off the Panther bandwagon declaring your everlasting Redskin worship. Stop pretending to be a fan and pick a team, Trolly.

    • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:43 AM

      Garcon did and Jordan Reed. Chris Thompson has and Breeland.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      DeSean Jackson could do it. We need him to do it.
      ~

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:41 AM

      …smh

    • 226thebeatdontstop - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      When has Cousins stepped up? He didn’t step up against Miami,Giants, or JETS teams who have good defenses.
      The Carolina defense will humble Gruden and his play calling along with Cousins

      Beating the Saints proved nothing their defense is horrific …Cousins hasn’t shown the ability to beat teams with good defense

      • hail74 - Nov 20, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        Interesting that you left off the rams(#6) and bucs(#7). Why is that? Wait let me guess, they don’t count because the skins won and Kirk performed well. Oh and some excuse about penalties and being let to win.

      • JOHNNY B - Nov 20, 2015 at 1:00 PM

        In which nfl are you in the Giants defense sucks the Dolphins was the first game that Cousins had started as a starting Qb. Before you post check your information. Just watch the game and get out of here.

  10. redskinsnameisheretostay - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    Winning is a complex chemistry of many things that doesn’t rely on statistics. Winning 9 games in a row is hard to do in the NFL. If some fans here really want to weigh the opponent based on scheduled then it’s fair to say they have beaten two teams considered better than the Redskins: Green Bay and Seattle! Anyway, I agree the game is winnable but I’ve watched Carolina play 3 games. The Panthers will present the biggest challenge the Redskins have had in defending the running game. That’s doesn’t bold well for a defense that at times has given up large chunks of yards rushing. The team will also need to find a way to keep Cam in check. He is a very different type of challenge than what was seen so far this season. Try remembering what Fitzpatrick did to this defense some weeks back and consider this will be double that challenge.

    I’m optimistic about Redskins competing with Carolina. This is a big test for Cousins to show he can be productive against a very tough defense away. The team hasn’t won a game away so it would be a bit ironic to see them log their first win away against an defeated opponent.

    Anyway, I think the guy that needs to step up is…
    The Center – Keep the snaps low and tight
    Cousins – Basically what Rich stated but to add it would be a great sign of maturity as QB if Cousins continues pass efficiently without throwing interceptions against a tough defense.
    Hopkins – A game winner is due and no better one than against an undefeated opponent in their stadium

  11. 226thebeatdontstop - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    Anyone who doesn’t believe the pistol, and read option works tune in Sunday. Cam and their tightend Greg Olson are salivating waiting o unleash their offense against the Skins…Gruden and some of you whine when Desean doesn’t play an the offense stagnates, Carolina doesn’t have a deep threat but they just win….
    The Carolina defense will stifle Gruden, Cousins, and the run game. Carolina 24 Redskins 10…Can’t wait to hear the lame excuses on Monday

    • goback2rfk - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      You sound like a Carolina Panther fan. What are you doing posting on this board?

      • 226thebeatdontstop - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:43 AM

        I’m a realistic Redskin fan who is not drinking the koolaid after they whipped the sorry Saints… I expect the offense to struggle all day and the defense can’t stop Cam or Carolinas run game

      • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 12:01 PM

        Sounds like a Griffin fan only to me…

        • brucefan1 - Nov 20, 2015 at 4:38 PM

          Heyyyy!! Don’t bunch us with this guy! That’s not fair to we Griffin fans! LOL

        • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 4:51 PM

          Bruce, I think he meant Griffin only fan.

        • abanig - Nov 21, 2015 at 12:35 PM

          Yeah, that’s what I meant. It’s the ole’ let’s still point out how the read option is amazing and we have a qb who’s inactive that is good at it and we should be doing that passive aggressive line yet, that qb doesn’t want to be a read option qb anymore.

          Let’s just embrace the success Cousins has had. For all tense and purposes the Griffin era is over. People are going to have to learn to live with it.

    • hail74 - Nov 20, 2015 at 12:33 PM

      Carolina vs Saints. Skins vs Saints
      W 27-22. W 47-14
      McCown 31/38 310 1int. Brees 19/28 209 2tds 1 int td
      Cam 20/31 315 2tds. Kirk 20/25 324 4tds

  12. JOHNNY B - Nov 20, 2015 at 12:52 PM

    I think Crowder is missing on this list. I think that he will be our top receiver in this game. Also they can’t cover Reed. As long as we don’t get out coached it will be a win. Our offense is better than theirs and their defense is over rated. They are good but not a top 5 defense.

    • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 2:06 PM

      No, their defense is that good; but our team has more than a punchers chance against that defense.

      It’s only over-rated as soon as we beat them. Then it was all smoke and mirrors and how did they manage to fool so many for so long.

  13. bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 3:20 PM

    I wonder how the NFL will approach the possible third wild card team when they revisit it again next off-season. Do they look at the current state of the NFC (virtually no wild card race with both the Packers and Falcons a full two games ahead of the pack) and use that as justification of the status quo or if that margin continues do they acquiesce and create another spot to avoid such rare cases in the future?

    http://www.nfl.com/playoffs/playoff-picture

    • abanig - Nov 20, 2015 at 3:25 PM

      I’d hope they’d look at it historically and look at the AFC this year and many years and see that sometimes 10 & even 11 win teams don’t make the wild card game.

      • bangkokben - Nov 20, 2015 at 4:50 PM

        I think the issue really boils down to: why does the NFL “need” another playoff team?

        When you and I were growing up there were 28 teams and only 10 were playoff teams (.357). Occasionally our ‘skins were “robbed” at 10-6 and didn’t make the playoffs but by and large it was the right proportion of rewarding teams for their season. (I say robbed – mostly tongue in cheek = because the 49ers then had a competitive advantage with just six division games and who couldn’t win at least 5 of 6 from a H&A with the Rams, Saints, and Falcons?) Now the ratio of 12 out of 32 is actually slightly higher then in the Redskins’ heyday (.375).

        So the NFL doesn’t need more interest in the sport. Unlike other sports where post-season interest wanes except in local markets, the NFL actually gains interest from the casual sports fan. So even though it would benefit the Redskins, I’m against it. I like the playoffs being exclusive. I think the reasons for both the division winners with losing records and the 10-6 team missing out is more of a result of divisions going head to head with two other divisions. If a division is down, it benefits the other two divisions and sometimes, your division may benefit from playing against two down divisions in one year. You might then go 10-6 but two other teams in your division go 11-5 you’re still 3rd place in your division and might not make the playoffs.

        • abanig - Nov 21, 2015 at 12:40 PM

          They don’t need it that true, but that’s like saying they never needed to expand or they never needed to even have a wildcard game to begin with.

          I think the NFL should expand. I don’t think they should have teams relocate to LA, I think LA should just get a team and then another city in the eastern part of the USA should get a team.

    • John - Nov 22, 2015 at 8:10 AM

      With parity scheduling, the NFL would like to keep every team in the hunt, so the majority of teams are on the cusp up until the last play of the season, keeping the fans glued to their seats watching the games at the stadium or on TV (raking in that money). Result, a bunch of 9-7, 8-8, 7-9 teams pushing for that final wild card or winning divisions.

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