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Before Further Review: Washington Redskins Go Flat On Road To Playoffs

Manny Benton breaks down what happened in the Washington Redskins' tough loss to the Carolina Panthers.

LANDOVER - The Washington Redskins (7-6-1) fell flat in a game they needed to win against the Carolina Panthers (6-8) Monday night, losing 26-15. As a team, they played as if they were intimidated and had nothing at stake. They slept on an otherwise struggling Panthers teams and have now kicked mud on their playoff picture. Below we'll give a pre-film review look at what happened using my game notes. 

Offense:

  • QB Kirk Cousins (32/47, 315 yards and 1 INT) had quite possibly his worst game of the season Monday night and it came at the absolute worst time. This was a big, must-win game for the Redskins and he sat for the occasion. Cousins left a lot of plays on the field. There were at least three touchdown opportunities that were missed. Honestly, he played scared. It started before his costly interception in the first quarter. But he became even more gun shy after that turnover. Cousins wasn't in attack mode at all. I'm not trying to bash the guy, but this is a game you needed your QB to step up and play well. He did the exact opposite. 
  • On a positive note, LT Trent Williams continues to play like the best left tackle in football. At this point, even with his suspension, it would be a travesty if he doesn't receive All-Pro votes. He's had an outstanding season. There was one play in this game where he pancaked a defensive lineman and a rushing linebacker. He's been impressive. 

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/811038405932896257

  • The Redskins couldn't really get anything rolling on the ground against the Panthers. But Robert Kelley' touchdown was a thing of beauty. I like how he kept his feet moving and was determined to not be denied of the endzone. Kelley appears to be improving in the pass game. He caught four balls Monday night. That was one area of his game I began to question. He has silenced me and others who thought he had issues catching footballs.
  • TE Jordan Reed didn't play a lot in this game, but when he did, nothing good happened. In fact, the opposite effect happened -- he hurt the team by going Floyd Mayweather on Carolina's defenders in the red zone.  

Defense: 

  •  Bashaud Breeland had his best game of the season Monday night. It's unfortunate that it was overshadowed by a loss. But he played lights out from start to finish. He had three pass break ups against the Panthers. 
  • Having charted every Redskins play this season I can honestly say that Donte Whitner has had the most coverage breakdowns on this team. He's been atrocious in coverage and it continued Monday night on Ted Ginn Jr.'s touchdown. Whitner looked lost in his zone and didn't get enough depth. 
  • Second year linebacker Martrell Spaight started in place of the injured Will Compton Monday Night. It was a good opportunity to see what Spaight has to offer, considering ILB appears to be a top offseason need. Based on this game against the Panthers, ILB will remain a top need. Spaight was just not good enough. He wasn't active or around the football very much. He did not play well in coverage and just overall struggled. He seems to have a knack at laying big hits. However, he just didn't flash at all. He's a guy I've been skeptical about since watching his tape post-draft last year. I wasn't overly thrilled by what I saw on tape, but was encouraged with his play in preseason. Not only did Spaight show that he has a long way to go, he showed that he may not be a starting caliber guy. 
  • This was supposed to be a revenge game for Josh Norman and unfortunately that didn't happen. Norman looked pretty frustrated and deflated in the locker room after the loss. He did have one big play that was a near-interception in the endzone Monday night. However, he didn't get many opportunities to "stick-it" to his former team. 

Special Teams:

  • Another week, another missed kick by Dustin Hopkins. There's really no more excuses that can be made for Hopkins, who missed an extra point in this game. But the Redskins also don't have any other options. I fully expect another kicking competition headed into training camp next offseason. 

You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.

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