Despite a bright-sunny day today, the Panthers rained on the John Beck parade as the Redskins fell short in Charlotte.
Like last week, the injury bug took it’s toll once again, with Tim Hightower, Santana Moss and London Fletcher all leaving the game with injuries. But unlike last week, the story of the day wasn’t turnovers or lost opportunities.
This game didn’t boil down to a particular turning point, as the Redskins never led in the game. As I’ve been saying all year, this team wins as a team and loses as a team, and today, they just didn’t have enough, as a team.
On offense: The running game was red-hot for the first two quarters, but stalled with the absence of Hightower. Rookie receiver Niles Paul recorded his first two receptions of his career, both on acrobatic catches in the fourth quarter. Moss, a Washington quarterback’s best friend, was lost in the first quarter to a hand injury, and did not return. John Beck recorded the highest quarterback rating (80.8) since the first game of the season (110.5, Grossman), but a late interception deflated the comeback.
On defense: The defense was able to limit Cam Newton to the third lowest yardage total of his young career, but failed to contain receiver Steve Smith at the end of the game. The Redskins limited the impressive Panthers tight end duo to 36 yards, but gave up 175 yards on the ground.
On special teams: The Redskins have found their kicker, with Graham Gano coming through from 49 yards, the third week in a row that he’s hit from at least that distance. On the other hand, punter Sav Rocca was a non-factor in the game (one punt for 37 yards), and Brandon Banks was held to one return with Olindo Mare’s kickoffs.
As with any time that the Redskins lose, this was a frustrating loss. There are no good losses, but this one illustrated the strength and weakness of the 2011 Redskins: youth.
Bad side: This is a young team. Making the change to Beck makes it younger. Losing Moss, Hightower, Fletcher, Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Cooley, and the shake-ups on the line, makes it younger. Younger teams can be flashier, but they can also be less consistent. This team needs to time to grow and develop together before they can accurately be judged.
Good side: This team has playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Redskins have so many playmakers up front on defense, that they can be creative with the rest of their defensive scheme. Once they get healthy (Fletcher, Oshiomogho Atogwe short-term; Jarvis Jenkins long-term), this is a unit that can be dominant. On offense, this was the first game that many of these guys played together–they did remarkably well, considering.
Paul, Terrence Austin, Roy Helu, and Fred Davis have shown their play-making ability on offense. Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Chris Neild have shown their play-making ability on defense. It’s the development of these players that will determine the path of this team moving forward.
The Redskins didn’t win today, and nobody looks good losing, but there were a number of good performances to take from today. Chin up, Redskins Nation, it’s only Week 7.
Final score from Charlotte: Redskins 20, Panthers 33.