Instant Analysis: Panthers 21, Redskins 13

rg3_hit_carolina.png

Instant Analysis: Panthers 21, Redskins 13

The Redskins have a lot to overcome each week. A struggling secondary. Occasionally spotty special teams. Lack of a consistent pass rush.

The officials shouldn’t be on that list.

On Sunday, however, a crucial inadvertent whistle led to the Panthers’ first touchdown, and the Redskins never recovered en route to dropping their third straight game, 21-13, at FedEx Field.

As a result, the Redskins (3-6) enter the bye week searching for answers instead of looking forward to a second half filled with endless possibilities.

Coaches and players agreed this was a “must win” game. And it got off to a nightmarish start.

Late in the first quarter, Panthers’ running back DeAngelo Williams sprinted down the sideline -- carefully keeping his feet in bounds -- and into the end zone to put Carolina ahead 7-3. 

As Williams scampered toward the goal, a number of Redskins – linebacker Perry Riley in particular – slowed down as they pursued him. As it turns out, Riley and others let up because they thought an official had blown a whistle. On replays, it appeared as through Riley could have tackled Williams around the 10-yard line. 

But he didn’t – and the Panthers seized a lead they would not relinquish.

“In WSH/CAR even though he didn’t step out of bounds the official should’ve admitted he blew the whistle and ball should have been dead there,” tweeted Mike Pereira, the former NFL vice president of officiating.

The controversial touchdown wasn't the only reason the Redskins lost, of course. But it certainly wasn't any help to a scuffling, injury-depleted team that's got little room for error. 

For most of the afternoon, Robert Griffin III (22 of 38 for 224 yards and no touchdowns), Alfred Morris (13 carries for 76 yards) and the rest of the Redskins’ offense couldn’t get much going against the Panthers’ middle of the pack defense. 

Meantime, Cam Newton (one passing touchdown, one rushing) and the Panthers were exactly what Washington feared: A much better team than their 1-6 record indicated. Indeed, Newton connected with Steve Smith late in the second half to give the Panthers a 14-3 lead -- and all they would need to snap a five-game losing streak.

The Redskins thought they had caught the break they needed in the third quarter as trailed they 14-6. Panthers' punter Brad Nortman shanked a kick, which traveled only 14 yards and set up Washington at its own 40-yard line.

But 10 plays later, the drive stalled and Sav Rocca punted.

Newton and the Panthers clinched the victory on their next drive. Newton connected with Armanti Edwards for 82 yards, kickstarting a three-play scoring drive that culminated in a Newton one yard run for a touchdown.

Toughness, versatility the keys to Redskins’ 2016 draft class.

grudendraftrefframe_1.jpg

Toughness, versatility the keys to Redskins’ 2016 draft class.

The Redskins added seven players in the draft class of 2016 and many of them share some common traits.

“I'm very excited about these guys, really,” Jay Gruden said to the media after the draft was over. “I think the theme is we got some football players. We got some versatile guys who can do a lot of different things. Tough guys, who love the game of football. We're excited about them, they all bring great attitude to this organization. They're going to play hard and they're good people.”

Gruden seems to be particularly impressed with a pair of defensive players, fifth-round lineman Matt Ioannidis out of Temple and inside linebacker Steven Daniels, a seventh-round pick out of Boston College.

“Steven Daniels is very tough,” said Gruden. “When he hits you, he thumps you.”

Like Daniels, Ioannidis was the captain of the defensive unit. Gruden said that he loved his relentless play and said that “he’s a tough guy.”

Ioannidis and Su’a Cravens, the team’s second-round pick out of USC, will both play a number of roles on defense. Ioannidis could add 15-20 pounds (he is listed at 299) and play nose tackle or he could play all along the line. Cravens is a dime linebacker but he could play outside linebacker and strong safety in other situations as well.

Gruden said that the Redskins were able to emphasize toughness and versatility because they weren’t buttonholed into being forced to draft particular positions because they didn’t have anyone there.

“We didn't have a lot of glaring needs, like 'oh, my gosh we're totally incompetent at this position,’” he said. “I felt really good about the depth on our footbal team already, now that the draft is about adding a lot of good football players and adding guys that are tough.”

The team used toughness and other factors as tiebreakers when selecting among players.

“When you're in the draft and it's close between a couple of different guys, the toughness, maybe the special teams factor, the versatility, being a captain, all that stuff factors into it,” said Gruden. “You're always going to err on the side of tough, loves football.”

Josh Norman quickly acclimates to D.C. - attends White House Correspondents Dinner

2016-04-25t17-21-20.617z-1280x720.jpg

Josh Norman quickly acclimates to D.C. - attends White House Correspondents Dinner

Just a week into his Redskins tenure, new CB Josh Norman is enjoying the D.C. life, attending in the White House Correspondent's Dinner. 

@jno24's welcome to DC, the White House Corespondent Dinner! #whcd #RedSkins #HTTR #DC

A photo posted by Jeanine Juliano (@jeanine_juliano) on

Norman came to the 'Skins with much fanfare; an unusual release from a franchise tag in Carolina made him a free agent and Washington swooped in quickly. Norman signed a massive five-year, $75 million contract, and is expected to start at cornerback this fall opposite Bashaud Breeland.

Just hours before donning his tuxedo and heading downtown, Norman was spotted at FedEx Field meeting Redskins rookies Josh Doctson, Su'a Cravens and Kendall Fuller.

It's been a busy day for Norman, and depending what you hear about #NerdProm, the night is just getting started.

Redskins' last pick in draft is speedy Georgia running back

grudendraftrefframe_1.jpg

Redskins' last pick in draft is speedy Georgia running back

It took them their entire draft but the Redskins finally got a running back on their roster. They took Keith Marshall of Georgia with their seventh-round pick (No. 242 overall).

Marshall, 5-11 and 219 pounds, was supposed to be the Bulldogs’ next great back, but due to injuries and the emergence of Nick Chubb he never really got the chance.

He is the fastest player in the draft, if you go by his combine 40 times. He ran 4.31 in Indianapolis, the fastest time recorded this year.

Marshall will line up behind Matt Jones and probably Chris Thompson on the Redskins’ running back depth chart. He will get a chance to earn snaps on third down and possibly as a rotational back teaming with Jones.