Tha Sports Junkies 101

Washington Redskins Week 15 Preview: Skins host Panthers on MNF

Norman RRBG Photography


Josh Norman and the Washington Redskins look to boost their playoff hopes with a win against the Carolina Panthers on Monday night

On April 20th, the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag from cornerback Josh Norman. Fresh off an All-Pro season, in addition to being a key cog in the Panthers NFC Championship team, Norman was dumbfounded by the news. General Manager Dave Gettleman explained his rationale to reporters at the time.

“After a number of conversations with Josh’s agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable,” general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement. “We have decided to rescind the franchise tag freeing Josh to immediately become a UFA. We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well.”

Two days later, Norman signed a five-year, 75 million dollar deal with the Washington Redskins. Although Norman hasn’t posted the same numbers in Washington (50 tackles, 13 passes defended, two ff, one INT) as he did in Carolina, he’s been an excellent addition to the Redskins defense. Although Josh Norman hasn’t duplicated his production from a year ago, he’s been a big addition to the Redskins defense. Norman’s attitude is infectious and players to feed off his energy.

Washington obviously lacks the talent of the Panthers front-seven so it’s no coincidence both the Panthers secondary and Josh Norman haven’t been able to duplicate their 2015 success.

Porous Panthers

Carolina’s defense was among the league’s best in 2015 with Josh Norman. The Panthers finished sixth in total defense (322.9 ypg), 11th in pass yards, (234.5) and sixth in scoring defense (19.2). This year, Carolina is 23rd in total defense (362.5), 26th in scoring defense, (25.9) and 30th in pass yards (272.4)

The loss of Norman has had a negative impact on the Panthers defense, but the front-seven remains among the NFL’s best. The defense features one of the league’s premier pass rushes, as the Panthers lead the NFL in sacks (39). They are tied for second in interceptions with 15.

Kryptonite for Cam?

Cam Newton has a perfect 3-0 record against the Washington Redskins. As a rookie in 2011, Newton was 18/23 for 256 yards, a touchdown, and a 127.5 passer rating. Newton also added 59 rushing yards and a touchdown as the Panthers won 33-20. The following season, Newton had another efficient game going 13/23 201 yards one touchdown. Newton also had 43 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry will need “all hands on deck” to contain the reigning MVP and the Panthers offense. According to the statistics, the Panthers don’t have a potent offense. They’re 19th in total offense, (340.3) 13th and scoring. (23.9 ppg) Newton has struggled in 2016, completing 53.5 percent of his passes, along with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Newton’s 78.9 passer rating is the worst among the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

Game Prediction

This is a scary game for the Washington Redskins. Statistics and records aside, the Carolina Panthers have one of the more talented rosters in the NFL. Head coach Ron Rivera has stated this past week that his team will compete to win despite being eliminated from postseason contention. This game serves as a big test for the Redskins as they are battling for the playoffs.

Last year, the Panthers decimated Washington 44-16 in Carolina. The Redskins committed five turnovers, four of which were fumbles. Washington accumulated only 14 rushing yards, nine first downs, and 186 total yards on offense. Cam Newton threw five touchdown passes and Jonathan Stewart rushed for 102 yards. The defense also recorded five sacks and an interception of Kirk Cousins.

Cousins and the Redskins offense will find a way for Washington to avenge one of its worst losses from 2015. The Panthers secondary has been a mess all season and with the arsenal of weapons at Cousins disposal he could be in store for a big game. Against the Packers on “SNF” a month ago, Cousins showed his maturation as a passer since the last time he played Green Bay in January. In a similar situation, I expect Cousins to once again make his case to be one of the highest paid players in the NFL.

Washington 35 Carolina 31