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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 22, the day the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

CHAROLOTTE—A final look at today’s game as the Redskins try to knock the Panthers from the ranks of the undefeated.

—The Redskins started out great when it comes to starting out great. In their first six games the opposing team was shut out on its initial possession—the drives resulted in four punts, a fumble, and an interception. But in the last three games that pattern has changed. The Bucs, Patriots, and Saints all scored touchdowns the first time they had the ball. The visiting team needs to get off to a better start today.

—Like many games, this seems like the kind of game that will come down to turnovers. The Redskins had a turnover-free game last Sunday against the Saints after having given the ball away at least once in their previous 20 games. They will need to keep that up. The Redskins are 4-0 when Kirk Cousins doesn’t throw any interceptions and 0-5 when he throws at least one. Cam Newton had a three-pick game against the Eagles and was intercepted twice against the Seahawks. Passes will be in the air for the taking.

—You’ve heard about Cam and TE Greg Olsen all week. The other two offensive weapons to watch are RB Jonathan Stewart and WR Ted Ginn. Stewart is on pace to gain about 1,200 yards rushing and he will chew up yards and clock if the Redskins haven’t fixed their problems with rushing defense. Ginn is having a career renaissance at the age of 30. He’s the Panthers’ second-leading receiver with 25 catches and he’s averaging over 16 yards per reception. It’s possible that the Redskins hold down production from Olsen and Newton but get beaten by Ginn and Stewart.

—Somebody, anybody on the Redskins’ linebacker corps needs to step up. The group has been one of the stronger units on the team the past few years but not in 2015. Ryan Kerrigan wasn’t generating much consistent pass rush even before he suffered a broken hand. On the other side, Trent Murphy is good against the run but generating little pass rush and Preston Smith can’t develop the consistency he needs to take the starting job away from him. On the inside, Keenan Robinson has had lots of issues with missed tackles and Perry Riley looks lost at times. Will Compton has been competent filling in and now as the starter but he needs to find his next level. If they are going to contain Cam and Olsen one or more will have to have a big game.

—If the Redskins had shown an ability to win on the road any time in the last calendar year, I’d probably pick them to win this game. The Panthers are unbeaten but they have shown they are not unbeatable. I think the Redskins will be able to move the ball on the ground. With all of their defensive backs now healthy they will be able to mix and match coverage on Olsen. They should keep it close and have some chances to pull out a win. But eight straight losses is a trend that just can’t be ignored. I suppose you could say that the Redskins are due for a win away from home. Until they show me, however, I just can’t pick them to win. Panthers take a close one.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Panthers, 1 p.m., FOX

Days until: Giants @ Redskins 7; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 15; Redskins @ Bears 21

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins be interested in C Mangold, RB Murray?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins be interested in C Mangold, RB Murray?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 27, 2 days before the March 1 NFL franchise tag deadline.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/2) 3
—Start of NFL free agency (3/9) 10
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 49
—NFL Draft (4/27) 59
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 195

Monday morning Redskins musings as free agency approaches

1. It appears that the Raiders are going to let Latavius Murray, who rushed for over 1,800 yards combined in the last two seasons, test free agency.

I’d be surprised if the Redskins showed any interest. I’m not sure that they will be jumping into the RB free agent pool, at least not into the deep (expensive) end of it. They might draft a back to compete with Rob Kelley, Matt Jones, and Mack Brown. Chris Thompson will remain the third-down back.

2. Do you wonder why the Redskins have been reluctant to draft a safety?

Eventually, someone will need to figure out the safety position in the NFL. With all the spread offenses that safeties face in college the safeties have become more like additional corner. Also, the better defensive backs in college want to be cornerbacks because it pays better in the pros. The pool coming out is generally small to begin with and then it shrinks even further for each team due to the scheme factors that Farrar discusses. Su'a Cravens could be the solution to one safety spot for the Redskins but they continue to be in search of someone to pair with him. 

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

3. The Jets allowed C Nick Mangold to announce his own release. He was one of the best centers of the past decade; Mangold went to seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro twice. But I don’t see him being of interest to the Redskins. They are happy with Spencer Long and even if they weren’t, Mangold is 33 and he missed half of last season with an ankle injury. Those factors likely will make the Redskins steer clear.

4. Maybe some fans don’t care if they are getting information from the team through the media at the combine. Or at the Senior Bowl. Or anywhere. And it is the team’s option to have someone available or not during most of the offseason (a press conference prior to the draft is mandatory). But they are missing out on a chance to give their side of the story.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

5. We have another D-lineman signed as the Panthers retained DE Mario Addison.

Addison, who was with the Redskins for five games in 2012, also had six and 6.5 sacks the previous two year, not bad for a guy who has started just one game in the last three seasons. That average of just over $7 million per year sets another data point for the Redskins to use to try to retain Chris Baker. Addison is a 4-3 end while Baker is a 3-4 end so it’s not an apples to apples comparison but it will help figuring out what a reasonable contract is. Without seeing the details, it looks like Addison gave the Panthers something of a hometown discount as that’s a good price for a guy who was half a sack away from double digits.

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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