The big news this week is who will be under center for the Redskins against the Panthers. Rex Grossman got out of playing in the system and decided it was better to fling the ball to the deepest receiver instead of reading his progressions, taking what the defense gave him, and passing to the open man. To Rex Grossman the best option wasn’t who was open, but who was furthest downfield. He got out of the system and ended up making too many costly mistakes. All of this is why John Beck is going to be starting at quarterback for the Redskins when they take on the Panthers this Sunday.
It is a good week to make the change. Beck won’t be facing a good pass defense and might not even be asked to pass that much as the Panthers are second worst in the NFL having allowed over 140 yards a game rushing. Because of this they have seen the fourth fewest passing attempts against. They still rank 17th in passing yards allowed, and while it is in the bottom half of the league it is a bit deceiving as they are tied for worst in the NFL with 8.5 yards allowed per passing attempt against, and are ninth worst having allowed a 64.2% completion percentage.
On the other side of the ball Cam Newton has had an impressive rookie season, but as teams get more tape on him and figure out how he has been successful they will stop it. There is enough evidence now on Newton that the league should start adjusting to him and then it will be his duty to adjust to the league. Newton’s three favorite targets have been Steve Smith and his Tight Ends. If the Redskins can take away those targets then Newton might struggle, but Newton is also a superb running quarterback.
Cam Newton isn’t just a good rushing quarterback he is also a freak of nature. He is not the typical size for a quarterback and his big powerful build makes him harder to bring down than a normal running quarterback. The best way for the Redskins to stop him is to not allow him to get going in the first place. Pressure needs to be constant and from all angles if the Redskins hope to keep Newton pinned in his backfield. Kerrigan and Orakpo are going to have to continue doing what they have been doing, and the front three are going to have to eat up blockers to help them get more pressure on Newton.
If the Redskins can force Newton to struggle and he continues to turn the ball over like he has in his previous games they have a good chance to win this, but the Panthers could turn to their running game. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have average 5.2 and 4.8 yards an attempt respectively, but the Panthers have not utilized these weapons like they should. Perhaps they have become too enamored with the one man show of Cam Newton, but against a Redskins defense that allows 4.6 yards a carry might be a good time to get the running backs more involved.
The goal of the Panthers should be to get the running game going and take pressure off of Newton. The Redskins cannot allow this to happen. It is tough to continue to put so much pressure on the defense but unless John Beck surprises everyone and is better than just a guy that isn’t Rex Grossman then the pressure will continue to be on the Redskins defense. Make no mistake about it the offensive strategy of the Redskins is also part of the defensive gameplan. If Newton doesn’t touch the ball he won’t have as many chances to make a big play.
The biggest thing John Beck can do better than Grossman is not turn the ball over. Last week against the Eagles the Redskins allowed too many extra possessions. Like the Eagles the Panthers offense is dynamic and the Redskins will get hurt if they give them extra possessions. The Panthers are a 1-5 team for a reason and it is because they cannot hold onto the football or stop the other team when they get the football. The Redskins need to make sure that the advantage in opportunities is theirs. Beck needs to do what Grossman failed to and that is to play within himself and within the system. There will be an open receiver on most every passing play. Beck needs to read his progressions and find that receiver and get him the football.
Grossman failed because he tried to go for the big play on every attempt. No matter the sport that is a recipe for failure. If the Redskins are going to win this game they are going to do it the way they have won all season long. That is by keeping the other teams offense on the sideline, making them start deep in their own territory when they do get the ball, and play solid defense.
When the season began the Redskins choose Grossman to be their quarterback and leader of the offense. Since that time he has regressed. He has forgotten what he did to win that job and remembered what he did to lose the job in Chicago. The Rex Grossman everyone remembered showed up and made it time to find out exactly what John Beck is. The Panthers are not a good defensive team making this a good week to make the switch. It would also help if the Redskins ran the ball more than 15 times.
The Panthers are favored in this game, but if the Redskins wish to turn the talk away from how disappointing they have become and back to how surprising they could be they need to win this game. The plan for winning isn’t hard to determine it is the execution of that plan that will be the problem. No one knows what John Beck is and the Panthers are going to help us to find out. They might have struggled against the run so far this season, but so had the Eagles. The Panthers are going to stack the line of scrimage and make Beck beat them with his arm. If he can complete passes and get the Redskins moving down the field then the Redskins have a chance to get their season back on the track it was on two weeks ago.