The Panthers travel to the US capital this weekend to challenge the Redskins in a game featuring exciting young quarterbacks. In an effort to get more inside information on this match-up I have traded questions with SBN's Redksins blog.
So here we go:
Question 1: RG3 has obviously proved to be as good as advertised. As an NFL QB what is RG3 doing well and what is he still improving on that the Panthers need to take advantage of?
Kevin: The Redskins' run option has been confusing defenses. RGIII is so speedy and so good on his play fakes that linebackers have to freeze to see what's going on. This opens up lots of short throw options, which is why his completion % was above 70% for the season before last week (10 drops by Redskins WRs). Post-game quotes from opposing teams are pretty much shock and awe of how good RGIII is.
If we can keep him in the pocket we have the speed at LB to limit the YAC on the short throws.
Question 2: For the Panthers to hold the Redskins under 20 points what must their defense do best?
Kevin: The thing that kills our offense the most are long offensive drives by opponents. That's what the Steelers did so well. Long, 7+ minute 80 yard drives. No one has really stopped the Redskins offense so far, so keeping the Redskins poorly ranked D on the field is the best bet. The Steelers held the Redskins to 12 points, but I can't explain how much those 10 drops killed the Redskins. Two of them were in the endzone and another on a 3rd down, sure first down.
The Panthers showed the ability to control the clock last week against the Bears. Though it may be tempting to go for the big play against this secondary we need to establish the ground game first and chew up the clock.
Question 3: Who is your defensive MVP to date and why?
Kevin: Geez. Tough one. Losing Carriker and Orakpo early to IR has made this pass rush non-existent. With no pass rush, CBs can't expect to hold their coverage and the Redskins have arguably the worst safety duo in the NFL (Madieu Williams, Reed Doughty). Jim Haslett for some reason sticks with zone coverage even though teams routinely shred the Skins. There are no MVPs...no one deserves it. Redskins ILB Perry Riley has progressed a lot from his rookie year, so there's some optimism.
Question 4: WR Steve Smith vs. CB DeAngelo Hall - These two have quite the history going back to when Hall was with the Falcons. Are you looking forward to seeing this match-up?
Kevin: I'd be shocked if Josh Wilson wasn't covering Smith. He's by far the Redskins best CB. DHall and Steve Smith have faced each other before since that infamous 67-yard in penalties meltdown and all that drama has been squashed. However, I'm not looking forward to Hall covering anyone. He's the 95th (out of 99) ranked CB in coverage according to Pro Football Focus. Steve Smith should win some fantasy games for owners by himself this week. He's always killed the Skins it seems.
I'm hopeful we get the ball to Smitty early and often. He is due for a big game and this team has to be frustrated to the max. Press the gas and don't let up!
Question 5: At 3-5 so far this season do you see the Redskins making the playoffs in 2012 and if so, what has to go right?
>Kevin: HAHA. There's a better chance Paris Hilton completes a year of abstinence than Redskins sniff playoffs. The defense is an utter mess. With the cap penalty, the Redskins had no money left over to fix the secondary. This past-offseason Atogwe was released and Laron Landry not re-signed...so the Redskins went dumpster diving and came up with Madieu Williams (shell of what he used to be), Tanard Jackson (indefinitely suspended - never played), and Brandon Meriweather (injured - never played). Brutal. You can't compete for playoffs when these guys are your help over the top...as Victor Cruz reminded us.
Nice Paris Hilton reference! You can't accuse Kevin of being overly Homer-ish on the season can you! But he's not so down on his team he is picking them to lose to the 1-6 Panthers.
Redskins 29, Panthers 25