CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Washington Redskins would like to move past Sunday’s 44-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers as quickly as possible.
The Redskins don’t need to wait until they watch the film to see what went wrong. The five turnovers were costly enough, let alone the nine penalties and the countless missed tackles.
After a 47-14 win against the New Orleans Saints last week, the Redskins were quickly grounded on Sunday.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting our team prepared, quite frankly,” coach Jay Gruden said. “This is on me. We had too many penalties, turnovers. These are things that we have to get fixed. Last week, we were feeling pretty good. Top of the mountain. This week, this game is a humbling game. You feel like you can’t do anything right. We have to make sure we ride the roller coaster, but we have to try to do the best we can to stay level, and we’re not doing that right now. We’re either really good or really poor.”
Sunday’s loss was tough to take, but the Redskins need to now focus on their next game at home against the New York Giants. A victory would leave the Redskins tied for first in the NFC East, but that doesn’t make the loss against Carolina sting any less.
“We’re all going to take this one on the chin,” Gruden said. “We got socked in the eye pretty good, but we’ll bounce back.”
With that, here are three takeaways from the Redskins’ loss.
** The Redskins’ tackling issues seemed like a week-to-week problem but after 11 games, it is more of a season-long hinderance. For the fifth time in six weeks, the Redskins have allowed an opposing rusher to gain more than 100 yards. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 102 on Sunday and the Panthers finished with 142 yards as a team. They’ve allowed 1,048 rushing yards in the last six games — a stunning average of 174.6 per game. The Redskins corrected one issue in that they didn’t give up the explosive play. The Panthers’ longest run was for 15 yards. However, the Redskins constantly allowed Stewart to get chunk yards right through the gut of the defense. Tackles were often missed at the line of scrimmage or a few yards away. On one play to the outside, Stewart slipped away from defensive end Ricky Jean Francois, cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Jeron Johnson en route to a nine-yard gain. It’s hard to stop anybody when a defense allows that to happen.
** One week after rushing for 204 yards against the New Orleans Saints, Washington rushed for 14 on 12 attempts against the Panthers. That’s an average of 1.2 yards per carry. Rookie Matt Jones rushed five times for zero yards and lost a fumble. Alfred Jones rushed two times for zero yards. Chris Thompson led the Redskins with 10 yards on four carries and Cousins chipped in four. With just under five minutes to play in the game, the Redskins had gained just six yards until Thompson picked up six more. Last week illustrated how greatly the Redskins’ offensive success is tied into the run game. Sunday’s performance was a sharp reminder of how difficult it becomes when they can’t get it going. When the Redskins fall behind, they are forced to abandon the run, which is not a winning formula for this team. Left tackle Trent Williams was asked how the Redskins could improve the run game. His answer was simple. “Attempts,” Williams said.
** One of the few positives in Sunday’s game was Andre Roberts’ 99-yard touchdown on a kick return. The Panthers took a 14-7 lead on Cam Newton’s three-yard pass to fullback Mike Tolbert and it took Roberts 14 seconds to even the score. What was most impressive about it was that Roberts did not have much blocking in front of him. He found a seam on the left sideline, evaded a Panthers defender by cutting it back toward the middle and then found an opening on the right side. Three weeks ago, the Redskins decided to go with Roberts on kickoff returns instead of Rashad Ross. Ross’ speed makes him a dangerous returner, but Roberts brings more to the team as a complete receiver if the Redskins need it. On Sunday, Roberts proved that he is still a valuable kick returner, too.