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Need to Know: Monday's result says the Redskins have a chance vs. Panthers

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Need to Know: Monday's result says the Redskins have a chance vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 18, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Panthers

—If anyone thinks that the Redskins can’t win this game, may I direct your attention to the result of the game played on Monday night in Cincinnati. The Texans were double-digit underdogs and beat the undefeated Bengals 10-6. Yes, they got some help from the Bengals, particularly in the form of turnovers and dropped passes. The Redskins will probably need some help if they are gong to pull off the upset but it can be done.

—As noted here a few days ago, Kirk Cousins just has one interception in the last 13 quarters of play and that one pick, which bounced out of the hands of Pierre Garçon and into those of a Patriots defender, clearly was not his fault. His ball protection skills will be tested on Sunday as Carolina leads the league with 14 interceptions. Cornerback Josh Norman, a 2012 draft pick the Panthers developed into one of the better corners in the league, leads the team with four.

—In part because of the interceptions, the Carolina defense has the best opponent passer rating in the NFL with an impressive 69.1. That’s down in Peyton Manning territory (yes, it’s shocking to type that). Other teams complete just 57.2 percent of their passes against them and they average 6.0 yards per attempt. Add in 26 sacks, tied for sixth in the league, and Cousins will be challenged like he rarely has been before.

—Perhaps this would be a good game for the Redskins to get their running game going. The Panthers give up an average of 103 yards per game on the ground and 4.1 per carry. I suspect that to an extent the Panthers are willing to give up some yards on the ground, make teams grind out long drives, believing that the offense will make a mistake. And that happens pretty often; in addition to their 14 interceptions, the Panthers have recovered six fumbles.

—The Redskins’ biggest obstacle to winning on Sunday will be the man behind center for Carolina, Cam Newton. His passing numbers are not at all impressive with a completion percentage of 56.3 and a pedestrian passer rating of 84.8. But he is in the MVP conversation because can also run the ball (366 yards and six TD’s) and he has a knack for making a play when his team needs it. It’s hard to figure out how to defend a 6-6, 260-lb. quarterback when you very rarely go up against his combination of size and skills.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Panthers 4; Giants @ Redskins 11; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 19

In case you missed it

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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

The Redskins are set to interview Dennis Thurman for their vacant offensive coordinator position. Here is a look at Thurman’s qualifications for the job.

Before becoming a coordinator: Thurman played in the NFL for the Cowboys from 1978-1985. Redskins fans may best remember him for trying to break up the “Fun Bunch” celebration in a 1983 game. He played for the Cardinals the last season of his career. He coached the secondary for the Cardinals for two years before going to USC and holding the same job there from 1993-2000. Thurman then returned to the NFL as a Ravens defensive assistant and secondary coach. He moved to the Jets to coach the secondary there before getting promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Note: If you want more complete stats on Thurman’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2013 Jets (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,359 (11th), points 387 (19th), takeaways 15 (31st), 3rd down 38.8% (13th), DVOA -5.6% (12th)
Notable players: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, CB Antonio Cromartie*, S Ed Reed

The Jets traded away their best defender, Darrelle Revis, during the offseason. Wilkerson led a good pass rush as he racked up 10.5 sacks and LB Calvin Pace had 10. It should be noted that head coach Rex Ryan is a defensive-minded head coach and he certainly had influence in what went right and what went wrong on that side of the ball.

2014 Jets (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,235 (6th), points 401 (24th), takeaways 13 (32nd), 3rd down 45.2% (30th), DVOA 3.5% (21st)
Notable players: DT Sheldon Richardson*, DE Quinton Cooples

If you want to know how a team can finish in the top six in yards and in the bottom 10 in points allowed just look at the lack of takeaways and the porous third-down defense. An offense with Geno Smith at quarterback couldn’t keep thinks afloat and Thurman was fired along with Ryan after the season.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

2015 Bills (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,702 (19th), points 359 (15th), takeaways 25 (12th), 3rd down 40.5%, DVOA 8.6% (24th)
Notable players: DE Mario Williams, DE Jerry Hughes

Ryan and Thurman both moved to upstate New York when they were hired by the Bills. This unit ranked fourth in both yards and points the year before Ryan and Thurman arrived and they obviously didn’t maintain that. It didn’t help that 2014 first-team All-Pro Marcell Dareus got into some legal trouble during the offseason and his production plummeted from 10 sacks in 2014 to two.

2016 Bills (7-9)

Rankings: Yards 5,712 (19th), points 378 (16th), takeaways 18 (23rd), 3rd down 40.0%, DVOA 8.0 (26th)
Notable players: LB Lorenzo Alexander*, CB Stephon Gilmore

Former Redskin Alexander had a good year, racking up 12 sacks and making the Pro Bowl but there wasn’t much else to talk about on defense. They essentially spun their wheels and Ryan was fired with a game left and Thurman soon followed him out the door.

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

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Ever wonder how B-Mitch became a Redskin?

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Real Clear Sports

New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Ever wonder how B-Mitch became a Redskin?

The SportsTalk Live crew of Rob Carlin and Brian Mitchell joined JP Finlay to talk Redskins football, the defensive coordinator search and the constract situation of Kirk Cousins on the latest edition of #RedskinsTalk the Podcast. The talk begins, however, with B-Mitch telling the story of how he ended up with the Redskins after not getting an invitation to the Senior Bowl or the East-West Shrine Game. It's a must listen. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!