Carolina Panthers Beware: As Robert Griffin III Goes, So Do The Washington Redskins
By Ted Fleming
Washington Redskins by the Numbers
- 2012 Record: 3-5
- Record vs. Panthers: 7-3
- Streak vs. Panthers: L2
- Last Meeting: Panthers 33, Redskins 20 (October 23, 2011 in Charlotte)
- Next Game: Sunday Nov. 4 @ FedEx Field (85,000)
When longtime football fans think of the Washington Redskins names, Joe Gibbs, John Riggins, Art Monk or Doug Williams might come to mind. The franchise was one of the more successful in the NFL, but the key word here is “was.”
Washington has hit hard times of late, actually going back to January 26, 1992 when they last hoisted the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl XXVI champs. And over the last two decades they have made the postseason just three times, reached double digits in wins twice and have no winning season since 2007.
The Redskins were slowly becoming the old Washington Senators. The baseball club had gained notoriety with a famous refrain back in the war years and to update it to a football expression, “First in war, first in peace and last in the NFC East.” But a funny thing happened on the way to affixing that saying above FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland – the miracle of the NFL Draft and the selection of Robert Griffin III.
Washington is a fun place to be these days because those who pack the stadium see greatness in the making and despite having just a 3-5 record so far in 2012, the rookie sensation and his team have the Panthers in the crosshairs as they meet for the 11th time on Sunday.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was the talk of the NFL last season but it seems the league has caught up to him a lot faster than the 23-year old would have liked. He is looking to get the Panthers back on track after a 1-6 start and has something to build on having knocked off the ’Skins at Bank of America Stadium last year. But that was then and this is now.
The Redskins pose a whole different set of problems this time around and it begins with RGIII who is a threat as long as he has the ball in his hands. You take him out of his game there is a chance of beating him but if you don’t, look out. And the Panthers are primed for a letdown because they are on the road, are banged up at key positions and the much improved defense has not faced anyone like Griffin.
Of the four key offensive categories, the Redskins are seventh or better in three of them – 2nd in rushing yards, 6th in total yards and 7th in points scored. The ground game is led by a pair of first year players, Griffin and running back Alfred Morris who have 476 and 717 yards, respectively and that opens up all sorts of other possibilities like bubble screens or play-action shots at four receiver that are all averaging more than 10-yards a catch.
But Washington has run into a dry spell of sorts being short-circuited last week against the Steelers scoring just 12-points, their lowest of the year. While the offense is ranked just 20th, Griffin has hit 70 percent of his passes which is the best in the NFL and the Pittsburgh game cannot totally be blamed on the Heisman Trophy winner because 10 of his 18 incompletions were on dropped balls.
If the Panthers can establish a ground attack against the Redskins, and that could be easier said than done considering they are 10th in the NFL, Cam Newton can use his arm against the Redskins who are dead last against the pass allowing a whopping 314-yards a game.
Prediction: Redskins 21, Panthers 20
Status quo: The 4:00 p.m. Wednesday trade deadline came and went without the Panthers making a move despite rumors that wide receiver Steve Smith and/or running back DeAngelo Williams were available.
Panthers: Assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown played for the Redskins from 1989-95 and served as a special assistant for the team in 2006. Running backs coach John Settle played running back for the Redskins from 1991-92.
Redskins: Defensive line coach Jacob Burney was part of the Panthers staff from 1999-01.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.