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Redskins rewind: Griffin gets run around from Panthers

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Redskins rewind: Griffin gets run around from Panthers

While Mike Shanahan intends to “evaluate” the Redskins’ players in the coming weeks, it’s time for us to take our weekly look back at Friday’s preview and evaluate how those storylines played out Sunday at FedEx Field. 

1-RG3 vs. defensive end Charles Johnson and the rest Panthers’ front four. As we mentioned, one of the keys to the game figured to be whether the Redskins’ rookie would receive ample time in the pocket and enough space outside of it to make plays.

Well, he received neither. Griffin was hit nine times while passing (second highest total this season) and sacked four times. Three of those sacks came as Griffin attempted to rally the Redskins in the fourth quarter. One was by Johnson, another belonged to Greg Hardy and Johnson and Hardy shared the third as Tyler Polumbus, Trent Williams and Will Montgomery took turns getting beat.

For the most part this season, the Redskins offensive line had been adequate. On Sunday, the unit was far from it. 

2-RG3 vs. Cam. Although Griffin did a nice job of avoiding mistakes, Cam Newton did a better job of making plays and finishing drives. Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances – and to be fair, Griffin faced significantly more pressure than his counterpart – but even Griffin would probably admit he was edged by Newton in their first head-to-head battle.

Griffin finished 23 of 39 for 215 yards passing and a 74.2 rating. Newton was 13 of 23 for 201 yards, a touchdown and a 100.1 rating. On the ground, Griffin averaged 4.8 yards on 11 carries, while Newton averaged 4.6 on eight attempts.

For the second week in a row, Griffin saw his rating sink into low 70’s and his completion percentage drop below 60 percent. If this continues, it won’t be long before questions will be raised about the Redskins’ scheme and whether opposing defenses have caught on.

3-Aldrick Robinson got his second start of his career in place of the injured Pierre Garçon – and a second shot at earning the coaching staff’s trust.

Now, he’s in need of a third chance.

On the Redskins’ first play from scrimmage, Griffin fired a midrange bullet over the middle. Robinson needed to dive to get his hands on the ball, which went right between his hands. Tough catch? Sure. One that had to be made? Absolutely.

A week after receivers dropped 10 of Griffin’s passes in Pittsburgh, Sunday did not get off to a good start. Robinson was targeted once the rest of the afternoon.

4-Special teams struggles. A week after a missed extra point and shanked punt, the Redskins’ special teams were on point.

Kicker Kai Forbath remained perfect, booting field goals of 47 and 25 yards to improve to 8 for 8. Punter Sav Rocca, meantime, had a 43 yard net and did an excellent job corralling a high snap by Justin Snow on Forbath’s first field goal.

Special teams have been a problem often this season. On Sunday, however, the unit was the least of the Redskins’ concerns.

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With receiver group in flux, might Redskins make run at Alshon Jeffery?

With receiver group in flux, might Redskins make run at Alshon Jeffery?

It seems likely the Redskins stand to lose one or both of receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency. That could mean more than 2,000 yards receiving exiting the offense, a significant blow.

Could Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery come to Washington and cushion the blow?

Multiple reports say that Chicago will not put the franchise tag on Jeffery, which means the 6-foot-4 receiver will hit the open market when free agency opens in a little more than a week. Coming off consectuive injury-marred seasons, still expect the market to be ripe for the former South Carolina star.

RELATED: Could FA Dontari Poe fix the Redskins nose tackle issue?

A five-year veteran that will turn 28 in August, Jeffery posted more than 2,500 receiving yards in the 2013 and 2014 seasons to go with 17 touchdowns. An extremely gifted red zone receiver, Jeffery is one of the best in the league at high-pointing the football and coming down with circus catches. His last two seasons, however, the Bears wideout only played in 21 of 32 games and his numbers dipped dramatically: just over 1,600 yards and six TDs combined.

Though Washington will likely lose at least one of Garçon or Jackson, and very possibly both, that does not necessarily make Jeffery a prime target. 

Expect cost to be a major factor as the Chicago receiver will likely command the top free agent payout at the position. And his recent injury history could be a factor as well. 

Further, the Redskins must believe they have a No. 1 receiver already in house in Josh Doctson. The No. 22 overall pick in 2016, Doctson hardly played as a rookie due to an Achilles injury but appears to be progressing well in his rehab. At 6-foot-2 and extremely athletic, Doctson was drafted to be a prime red zone target with the ability to go up and get TDs.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Could likely free agent Dontari Poe be the Redskins' answer at nose tackle?

Could likely free agent Dontari Poe be the Redskins' answer at nose tackle?

Many Redskins fans have been keeping a close eye on the Chiefs all offseason. Kansas City has two pending free agents in positions that are of great need to Washington. Fans have been watching since January to see what the Chiefs would do with safety Eric Berry and defensive lineman Dontari Poe. They may have their answer.

The organization’s hope was that they could sign one and use the franchise tag on the other. But with the deadline for the tag two days from now and with free agency starting in 10 days, it appears that plan is not going to happen. They are forced to decide and per Ed Werder of ESPN they are going to tag Berry and let Poe test free agency.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

Poe is a load at 6-3, 348. His impact is hard to measure in numbers; he has just 13 sacks in his five NFL seasons including two in the last two years. The Chiefs first-round pick out of Memphis in the 2012 draft has forced two fumbles and recovered one. But he is exactly what a defense like the Redskins’ 4-3 scheme needs in the middle to eat up double teams and keep blockers off the linebackers. They would go from having had no credible nose tackle in the seven seasons they have been in the 3-4 base defense to having one who at age 26 is of the very best in the league.

The problem with acquiring the best in the business is that you must pay top dollar. The contracts signed by Marcell Dareus of the Bills, a six-year deal with an average annual value of $15.8 million and Fletcher Cox of the Eagles, who signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $17.1, will be used as guidelines for a Poe free agent deal.

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The Redskins possibly could make that work but it would be a stretch. They already have a top-heavy salary structure with their top three players taking up 35 percent of the salary cap. Another cap hit in the $15 million range would put them in a precarious spot.

It seems unlikely that the Redskins will be real players in the Poe sweepstakes but given that he would be a perfect solution to a long-standing problem area it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.

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.