Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 30, five days before the Redskins take on the Panthers at FedEx Field.
A must win
Usually, players and coaches shy away from using the term “must-win game.” They’ll say that every game is one that has to be won, that no game is more important than any other, and so on and so forth.
But yesterday Mike Shanahan made it clear to his team that Sunday’s game against the Panthers is different and worth of the label.
"I think everybody knows it's a must-win game if you're 3-5 at the bye week,” Shanahan said on a conference call with reporters. “If you have any chance at the playoffs, everybody understands at the midway point that you've got to start playing your best football or you're eliminated awful quick,
What he meant, of course, is that the Redskins are now 3-5 and their bye week will start after the Carolina game. Eight NFC teams, half of the conference, have either three or four wins. The current Wild Card leaders, Minnesota and Green Bay, have five wins. Going into the last seven games of the season with four wins means that you have a chance to be in the playoff conversation.
At 3-6, however, you are likely to be spending your bye week vacation planning the extended vacation that starts right after the regular season ends on Dec. 30.
A coach can’t play the “must win” card very often, as it tends to lose its effect of overused. We’ll see if Shanahan’s message gets through to the team.
The cost of drops
My friend Zac Boyer of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star took a look at the Redskins’ dropped passes on Sunday and tweeted the following (@ZacBoyer):
Hard to quantify production lost with drops because of open space, consecutive plays. But #Redskins' 13 passes off hands were for 128 yards.
What did the drops do to Robert Griffin III’s numbers? As it was, his stat line was 34 attempts with 16 completions (47% completed) for 177 yards (5.2 per attempt) with one touchdown and no interceptions. That was a QB rating of 72.8.
If all 13 passes had been caught (an unrealistic assumption but we’re just roughly figuring here), Griffin would have been 29 of 34 (85.3%) for 305 yards (8.9 per attempt) with 2 touchdowns (adding in the ball that Aldrick Robinson could have had in the end zone) and no interceptions. His QB rating would have been 123.5.
This is not to say that Griffin had a great game and that he was undone only by his receivers. He misfired on a few passes including some of the drops and one second-quarter overthrow of a wide open Logan Paulsen for either a big gain or a touchdown when the game was still competitive.
At the same time, it would be a mistake to say that the Steelers provided a blueprint for how to shut down RG3. The Pittsburgh defense gave him a rough time, no doubt about it, but Griffin and the Redskins were undone in large part at their own hands—or, more precisely, lack of them.
No availability, scheduled day off.
Mike Shanahan said yesterday that the team planned to resume its normal schedule tomorrow. With the effects of Hurricane Sandy fading here in Ashburn there appears to be a good chance that preparations for the Panthers game will be able to proceed as scheduled.
In case you missed it
Trading deadline pushed back to Thursday. Deal or no deal for the Redskins?
Redskins Rewind: Tarik looks back at his Friday game preview.
Days until: RG3 vs. Cam @ FedEx Field 5; Eagles @ Redskins 19; Thanksgiving @ Cowboys 23; Ravens @ Redskins 40