Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

3-and-out: Redskins-Panthers post game quick hits

October 14, 2018 - 9:42 pm

106.7 The Fan Redskins beat reporter Craig Hoffman was in the press box at FedExField as the Washington Redskins took on the Carolina Panthers in Week 6 of the season. He combined his observations with post-game interviews to write his top-three takeaways from this week in football:

The story of the day is the bounce-back performance by Josh Norman and the Redskins defense. On a day where the secondary got no help from the pass rush, Norman created two turnovers en route to a Redskins win.

  1. It’s not hyperbole that Norman may have saved the Redskins season with a meeting he called on Tuesday. In his greatest display of leadership since at least early in his Redskins tenure, if not the entirety of it, Norman called a meeting with his fellow DB’s. They aired out the elephants in the room and the Redskins embattled star showed a vulnerability that he had not to the others in the room. The result? The best week of practice they’d had all year and a translation of that heightened communication to the field.

    As nerve-wracking as it was, the Redskins really played well defensively start to finish. It wasn’t perfect, but it was more than enough to win. Even the final drive was played with the goal in mind. The Redskins knew they just couldn’t give up a touchdown, which is a very different objective than not allowing the other team to move at all. They executed, playing solid coverage on the two deep shots Carolina took and keeping everything else in front of them until the Panthers ran out of downs.

    The one defensive negative? The pass rush made almost no impact. Ryan Kerrigan is paid a lot of money. Preston Smith wants to be paid a lot of money. Both need to make a much bigger impact moving forward in order for the Redskins to sustain success. On first glance, it appears they won in spite of them today.
  2. Offensively, the Redskins needed to get Jordan Reed more involved. They did, though the stat sheet didn’t truly reflect it. Reed has spent a lot of time away from the ball this year. In the first quarter, Jay Gruden leveraged his presence for his team’s first two touchdowns. On the first, Smith looked hard at Reed, moving Panthers safety Eric Reid, before coming back to a wide open Vernon Davis. On the second, Reed lined up next to Paul Richardson in a stack. Three Panthers followed, leaving Richardson open along the end line for a score.

    Richardson, who is quickly emerging as a leader on offense, told his teammates during the week “I need you. We all need each other.” He realizes how all the pieces work together, including on his touchdown. “I figured when J-Reed came in motion they would match up and they didn’t. I just saw a big hole, so I was like ‘oh alright, I’m just gonna fake ‘em outside and sit in this hole and hopefully Alex sees me.’ I did a little waivin’ and he saw me.”

    Reed had nine targets, a number of which came in key situations. They used him on third down and they used him to start their final field goal drive, which killed clock and turned out to be the difference in the game. With no Thompson and Crowder, Reed had to step up. Five catches for 36 yards doesn’t read like someone who stepped up, but anyone who watched the game knows he did.
  3. The Redskins special teams has been fairly neutral this season. It hasn’t made positive plays. It hasn’t hurt them either. Today they mattered and then some. Shaun Dion Hamilton forced a fumble that led to the Redskins first touchdown a play later. The coverage teams also forced the issue, drawing key penalties on Carolina that kept field position in the Redskins favor all day.

    Tress Way pinned the Panthers inside the 5 twice at the end of the first half. Of course, the capper was Dustin Hopkins 56 yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. It temporarily stemmed mounting Carolina momentum. A miss would have set the Panthers up with tremendous field position. Hopkins says he toed it a bit, so he’s lucky it carried but he has the leg strength to get away with it. He did, and the Redskins needed it.

Stat of the day: Eight yards, as in the fumble return Trent Williams had to set up Hopkins kick. If Williams doesn’t catch the ball and bullet forward, the Redskins punt and who knows how the game turns out. The three points meant the Panthers needed a TD on their final drive, which is a significantly harder task against a prevent defense than a field goal. It’s certainly one of the five most important plays in the game.

Quote of the day: “We got blew out last week, so we need a little help from the legend.” –DJ Swearinger on why it was the right week to wear his Sean Taylor jersey to the game.


Follow Redskins reporter Craig Hoffman and 106.7 The Fan