Back to the Basics for the Redskins
The Redskins head south this weekend and will square off against rookie phenom, Cam Newton, and the Carolina Panthers. Don’t be fooled by the Panthers 1-5 record as they have been in the game late in almost every one of their games this year. The Panthers field a team that has lost 6 out of 22 starters on the team since the beginning of the season and just recently lost starting right tackle Jeff Otah for the season.
The Panthers have a set of decent ends on defense in Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, Johnson has five sacks on the season thus far. They are susceptible to the run as they rank 31st in the NFL in run defense giving up over 140 yards per game.
The Redskins need to return to the basics that got them to 3-1, and that is just plain running the ball and playing hard-nosed defense. The fact that two Redskin offensive lineman are out this week (Trent Williams, high ankle sprain-Lichenstager-Torn MCL/ACL) could lead to newly appointed starting QB John Beck having to make quicker decisions and will possibly have to escape the pocket often. John Beck is a lot more mobile than Rex Grossman so I feel a little more comfortable knowing that and I also believe that Beck cannot do any worse than Rex did against the Eagles.
Nobody can be completely sure with Mike Shanahan when it comes to who he will go with a running back, but I would be willing to say that Ryan Torain will more than likely get the majority of the carries on Sunday, but Tim Hightower and Roy Helu are likely to get some carries as well. Much of that depends on how well Sean Locklear and Erik Cook do as they both make their first starts as Redskins this week on the offensive line. Will Montgomery will be starting at left guard and Cook will slide into the starting center position, the shift didn’t look all that bad last weekend against a better defensive unit.
Last but most certainly not least, the offensive play calling needs to maintain the goal of establishing the running game and using the passing game to create the run. Throwing the ball on 3 and one may be unorthodox and harder to defend, but it sure is easier to get a first down running the ball forward and not taking chances.
The Panthers offense can be high-octane and is guided by rookie sensation Cam Newton. Newton is a dual threat QB much like Mike Vick and has the ability to tear defenses apart. The Redskins have to get pressure on him early and often and try to contain him and make him make mistakes(which he leads the NFL in interceptions as of this week). The Panthers have a good set of running backs as well as DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart make up one of the best running back tandems in the league, and also have a highly skilled playmaker in Steve Smith lining up at wideout who can change games by himself.
This is going to be a game that has to be won in the trenches.