Have the Washington Redskins Reached a Turning Point?

The Redskins needed this one. After an ugly loss to the Saints in Week 5, halftime drama with Josh Norman, and rock-bottom team morale, Sunday’s game might have been a turning point for the Washington Redskins. Their 23-17 win against the Panthers puts the Redskins at 3-2 after Week 6. In some ways, it was a crucial win for the team. So… have they bounced back?

The Panthers are a good team. Cam Newton is a force to be reckoned with. This game was a close call, but the Redskins hung on and cashed in some early turnovers to get the job done. Under Head Coach Jay Gruden, the team runs the ball and plays good defense. (Well, this season anyway.) On Sunday, they controlled the clock and a handful of players stood out to win at home – most noticeably, Adrian Peterson and Josh Norman.

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Adrian Peterson is still great

Yeah, the Redskins have some studs. Veteran Peterson proved that he’s not too old to run, with 17 carries and 97 rushing yards this game. Peterson’s play so far this season has made the decision to pick him up for the year (after Derrius Guice’s season-ending injury) look like a good one. He’s racked up over 90 yards in each of the Redskins’ three wins. Although he was listed as “questionable” prior to Sunday due to knee and shoulder injuries, Peterson wrecked the Panthers defense while playing through the pain. He’s now on pace to lead the team in rushing yards this year. There’s no question about it, Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera admitted after the game, “They run the ball extremely well with Adrian.”

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Josh Norman might be worth the money

After all the recent criticism, cornerback Josh Norman needed this win too. He’s signed a $75 million contract for five years with the Redskins and lots are folks suggest he’s not worth the money. Tensions have been building, and last Monday night, he and Jay Gruden were involved in a little incident at halftime when Gruden yanked the headphones off Norman’s head and then didn’t start him during the second half. (Apparently, coach didn’t think he was listening to him in the locker room.)

Reportedly, that’s all settled now and Norman had a big game against his former Panthers teammates and good buddy Cam Newton. Along with some solid tackling, he forced a fumble which the Redskins capitalized on, and he nabbed his first interception since 2016. After a bad, bad week, Norman responded with a great performance and now critics are saying he’s gone “from penny stock to blue chip.”

Other important players this game? Veteran Vernon Davis caught three passes and snagged 48 yards and a touchdown, while Jordan Reed led the receivers with five receptions and an extra 36 yards for the team.

Potential pitfalls

So what do the Redskins need to work on? Well, their quarterback Alex Smith didn’t do anything terribly wrong or make any big mistakes… but he’s just not that consistent. From the opposing team’s point of view, he isn’t that scary quarterback you need to worry (think, Mahomes or Brady). Overall, Smith’s game against the Panthers was just mediocre. Another issue? The Redskins offense has a tough time putting points on the board in the second half.

History also says that the Redskins will lose their next game against the Cowboys. They’ve got a record of .500 over the past 57 games. They win one, they lose one. Seriously. In games following a win, they’re 1-7 if you look at their past eight games.

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Always looking ahead. #CARvsWAS | #HTTR

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So can they beat the Cowboys (who are coming off a strong 40-7 win against the Jaguars) to stay on top of the NFC East? This is a big one because, right now, the Redskins have a half-game lead over the Eagles and the Cowboys and a win would put them solidly on top of the division. Vegas is giving the Redskins a 1.5-point edge, probably because the Cowboys haven’t been able to seal the deal away from home yet this season, losing road games at Houston, Seattle, and Carolina.

The Redskins play at home again next week, so anything could happen. Can they keep rolling?

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What do you think? Will the Redskins keep winning?