Redskins vs. Panthers preview: Matchups to watch, score prediction, more
Redskins offense vs. Panthers defense
Since their Week 6 game against the Miami Dolphins, the Redskins offense has mostly sputtered. In fact, they have just two offensive touchdowns from Weeks 7-12, and those came in garbage time against the New York Jets.
In Week 12 against the Lions, the offense was only able to mount four scoring drives, all of which ended in field goals. The lone touchdown came on a Steven Sims Jr. kickoff return touchdown.
If the Redskins want to compete with the Panthers, they’ll need to do better than that. But it may prove difficult for them to do so.
The Panthers have a solid defense and are especially solid against the pass. They only rank middle-of-the-pack in terms of passing yards allowed, but the team has a great pass rush and their secondary has shown an ability to hold up in favorable matchups. And this certainly qualifies as one.
The Redskins essentially only have Terry McLaurin as a weapon at receiver. Kelvin Harmon has started to step up a bit more in recent weeks, but McLaurin is the only true threat on the field. The Panthers will focus on eliminating him, and McLaurin may line up against James Bradberry a lot in this game. Bradberry is a physical corner and he could give McLaurin some problems.
That said, McLaurin also could negate Bradberry’s presence with his speed and route-running ability. If he can avoid being knocked off his path, he could win some battles. If he can do that, the Redskins passing game could find some success. Still, it’s more likely that this aspect of the game will continue to be a problem.
One of the reasons for that? Dwayne Haskins hasn’t played particularly well as a starter. While the rookie has shown growth throughout his performances and has flashed his upside, he has also made a number of mistakes and struggled with inaccuracy. Against a strong Carolina pass rush where Gerald McCoy, Bruce Irvin, Mario Addison, and Brian Burns will be testing him on every drop back, he could have trouble getting into a rhythm. If the offensive line can’t give him time in the pocket, this could get ugly quick for Washington.
If the Redskins have any hope on this side of the ball, it will come from the run game. Dontari Poe suffered a quad injury for the Panthers last week and will undergo surgery for the injury. Without him, the team’s already weak run defense that has allowed 100 yards rushing or more in 9-of-11 games this season will be weaker. That could open up some more lanes for Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson to run through the defense and move the ball on offense.
The Panthers still have the edge on this side of the ball, but perhaps if the Redskins can get the run game working early, they’ll be able to stay competitive.