When the NFL schedule came out in the spring, not many people pegged the Week 11Redskins–Panthers matchup as an important one. But Carolina is 9-0 and has the best record in the NFC, and Washington is 4-5 and a half-game out of first place in the NFC East.
When the two teams take the field in Charlotte on Sunday, it won’t be Cam Newton vs.Robert Griffin III, two former high-round draft picks battling it out. But that doesn’t mean RG3, who was benched before the season, won’t play a critical role in preparing his teammates for the game: he’s serving as Newton in practice as the Redskins’ scout team quarterback.
And it’s helping, right?
“Yeah, a little bit,” said coach Jay Gruden. “He’s doing some of that, which is good, but, you know, to envision to emulate a guy that’s 6-foot-6, 265 pounds is a little bit different. But with some of the zone-read packages, they’ve seen a little bit with Kirk [Cousins] and Robert. Then, obviously, Robert is excellent at that, so we will use him effectively in that area.”
The Redskins started 2-4, at which point we all just assumed it was business as usual in Washington. But then Cousins led a historic comeback against the Buccaneers in Week 7 that seemed to jump-start things. After the bye, the Skins lost to the undefeated Patriots (no shame there) but destroyed the Saints last Sunday. And now it’s onto Carolina, where a win sets up a Week 12 showdown with the Giants — for first place in the division, no less.
For now, Gruden’s only worried about the Panthers.
“Playing on the road, it’s obviously tough. Getting out to a fast start, we got out to slow starts in two of those three games. Atlanta, we were kind of even for most of the game. But against New England, against the Giants, we were off to a terrible start, which allowed the crowd to get into it, make us one-dimensional on offense. Very important for us to get off to a faster start on the road, especially against Carolina. You kind of quiet the crowd a little bit. You get a little bit of momentum, get your confidence up, so it’s going to be important for us to get out to a fast start. But, you know, there’s a lot of things that we can do and we’re going to have to do better, especially against Carolina. Excellent football team all across the board — offense, defense and special teams — and it’ll be a great challenge.”
One piece of advice: If you don’t want Cam dancing, keep him out of the end zone.Otherwise, things could get awkward.
Story provided by Ryan Wilson