NFC South: Washington Redskins

Live blog: Redskins at Falcons

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
10:00
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the Washington Redskins' visit to the Atlanta Falcons. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.
There’s a very common assumption that veteran defensive back Ronde Barber either will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or retire.

Barber
Those clearly are the two leading scenarios, but let me throw out one more that is purely hypothetical.

What if Barber wants to continue playing, but doesn’t particularly like the role (and maybe even the money) the Bucs are offering him? Could Barber, who has played his entire career in Tampa Bay, end up playing for another team?

Again, it may be a long shot that Barber, an unrestricted free agent, would consider going elsewhere. But there’s one situation out there that makes a lot of sense. In some ways, it could make more sense than Tampa Bay.

With last week’s signing of safety Dashon Goldson, it became pretty obvious Barber’s not going to be the starting free safety he was last season. And it’s probably safe to assume he’s not going to transition back to being a starting cornerback. With the Bucs, Barber is probably looking at a role as either the third safety or the nickel cornerback.

What if he wants to continue starting?

Remember, Barber is a guy with a lot of pride. And there’s one logical landing spot for him.

The Washington Redskins are desperate for a starting free safety. They have very little salary-cap room, but might be able to coax Barber into playing for the veteran minimum (or close to it) in exchange for a chance to remain a starter. And let’s keep in mind the Redskins were a playoff team last season and look like a contender to be one next season. It’s been a while since Barber’s been on a playoff team, and that could make this scenario tempting.

There are a few other tidbits that could make Washington tempting. Former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris is Washington’s secondary coach. Washington general manager Bruce Allen held the same role in Tampa Bay during a good chunk of Barber’s career. Oh, and Washington coach Mike Shanahan already took one icon (John Lynch) out of Tampa Bay back when he was coaching Denver.

Again, I still think chances are good Barber will either return to the Bucs or retire. But, with each day there's no word from Barber or the Bucs, the more I think this hypothetical Washington scenario is at least worth pondering.

Redskins or Seahawks?

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
4:00
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As we get ready for the wild-card game between the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins, let’s hear your thoughts on which team you’d rather see play the Atlanta Falcons next week.

Hit the comments section below.

For the record, I think the Seahawks are the team the Falcons would rather face. Yeah, I realize the Falcons won 24-17 on the road against the Redskins in Week 5 of this season. But the Redskins got hot after that, quarterback Robert Griffin III kept getting better and they’re a different team now than the one Atlanta faced a few months ago.

I’m not saying Seattle would be an easy draw for the Falcons because the Seahawks have a good defense and an offense that has some balance with quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch. But the Seahawks were 3-5 on the road this season and I think they might have a tough time in the Georgia Dome.

Falcons wait for opponent

January, 5, 2013
1/05/13
11:56
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The Atlanta Falcons could know their opponent for next week’s divisional round of the playoffs as early as Saturday night.

If No. 6 seed Minnesota defeats Green Bay, the Falcons will host the Vikings on Jan. 13. If the Packers win, the Falcons then have to wait until Sunday to find out which team to prepare for.

The other option is the winner of Sunday’s game between the Redskins and Seahawks.

We asked you which team you’d like to see the Falcons play in this poll early in the week. The Vikings won with 42 percent of the vote, while the Redskins and Seahawks each received 29 percent.

I’d tend to agree with your thinking. Minnesota has Adrian Peterson, which represents a huge challenge for any defense. But the Falcons would be able to focus on their run defense, because Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder isn’t exactly a prolific passer. I think the Vikings would be the best matchup for the Falcons.

But I think they also could be in good shape against the Redskins or Seahawks. Atlanta beat Washington early in the season and already has had a look at rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and the read-option offense.

The Seahawks also have a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson. He and Griffin both have had fantastic seasons.

But I’d take a team led by Matt Ryan over a team led by a rookie in a playoff game. Especially a playoff game that will be played in the Georgia Dome.

Superlatives on the Panthers

November, 5, 2012
11/05/12
11:06
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We haven’t had a chance to do one of these posts in quite some time because I only do them when a team wins. But Carolina defeated Washington 21-13 on Sunday, so, with the help of ESPN Stats & Information, let’s run through some statistical superlatives on the Panthers.
  • The win snapped Carolina’s five-game losing streak, which had been the longest active streak in the NFL entering the week.
  • Quarterback Cam Newton had 201 passing yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Since the start of the 2011 season, that’s a league-high 11 games in which Newton has had both a rushing and a passing touchdown.
  • The win was Carolina’s first against the Redskins on the road. The Panthers are now 1-5 when they play at Washington.
  • The Carolina defense held Robert Griffin III to 215 passing yards and 53 rushing yards without a passing or rushing touchdown. That’s only the second game of Griffin’s career in which he did not account for a touchdown.
  • The Carolina defense was very good on third downs. The Redskins converted only 3 of 15 third downs into first downs.
  • We’ll see if history holds true on this one, but the Panthers might end up playing a role in the upcoming election. When the Redskins have lost their final home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White House in eight of the nine previous elections.

Wrap-up: Panthers 21, Redskins 13

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
4:16
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Thoughts on the Carolina Panthers21-13 victory against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday:

What it means: This isn’t going to suddenly turn around what has been a brutal season for Carolina. But it’s going to go a long way in stopping some of the bleeding. The Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak and improved their record to 2-6. An impressive win on the road might be a step toward coach Ron Rivera keeping his job after the season. But Rivera needs some more victories to solidify his status.

An Armanti Edwards sighting: Edwards made what was easily the biggest play in his time in Carolina. Leading 14-6 early in the fourth quarter with the ball deep in their own territory, the Panthers surprisingly didn’t get conservative. Instead, they took a shot downfield to the seldom-used Edwards. Cam Newton hit Edwards with a deep pass that ended up going for 82 yards and that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Newton.

What I liked: Carolina’s defense. This unit has drawn tons of criticism, and it generally has been deserved. But Carolina’s defense came through in a big way Sunday. It wasn’t a perfect day, as the Redskins finished with 346 yards of total offense. But the Panthers held the Redskins to two field goals until the Redskins scored a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. That's a pretty solid defensive performance. Also, defensive end Greg Hardy, who looked like a bust early in his career, continues to show signs he might be developing into a reliable pass-rusher.

Newton’s efficient day: The quarterback has been drawing a lot of criticism in recent weeks. But it’s hard to criticize Newton’s performance against the Redskins; he didn’t have a turnover while completing 13 of 23 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown and rushing eight times for 37 yards and a touchdown.

What’s next: The Panthers are home next Sunday with Denver. This will be a homecoming for Denver coach John Fox, who coached the Panthers from 2002 through 2010 and took the franchise to its only Super Bowl.

Halftime thoughts on the Panthers

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
2:26
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It looks as if the Carolina Panthers might have a chance to snap a five-game winning streak.

The Panthers hold a 14-3 lead over the Washington Redskins at halftime at FedEx Field.

Carolina scored its first touchdown on a 30-yard run by DeAngelo Williams, who tiptoed the sideline. The second touchdown came very late in the first half when Cam Newton hit Steve Smith with a 19-yard touchdown pass. That was Smith’s first touchdown of the season.

Carolina’s defense also had a very nice goal-line stand in which defensive end Charles Johnson and linebacker Thomas Davis each had big stops.

Snapping the losing streak would be great for a team that’s been through a brutal stretch. But it’s pretty clear the Panthers have to protect this lead and maybe even add onto it. Carolina doesn’t have a very good recent history in close games.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the Panthers are 1-10 in games decided by seven points or less. Maybe the best way around that is to keep the Redskins from getting within seven points.

Video: Predictions -- Panthers-Redskins

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
8:00
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The NFL Live crew makes their picks for the Carolina Panthers at the Washington Redskins.

Video: AccuScore -- Panthers-Redskins

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
12:30
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Cary Chow goes inside the numbers for the Carolina Panthers-Washington Redskins game.

Southern exposure for Week 7

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
2:18
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Now that we know that the game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be televised live in the Tampa Bay area, it’s time for our weekly look at what television markets will carry NFC South games on Sunday.

Let’s turn to the trusty maps at the506.com.

The Bucs and Saints will air at 1 p.m. ET on FOX with Dick Stockton and John Lynch as the announcers. The game will get good, but not great play. It will be aired throughout Florida, except for the Jacksonville and Miami markets, and through most of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but that’s about it.

The Dallas at Carolina game will air at the same time on FOX with -- Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa – and that game will get more exposure. But I think that has a lot more to do with the Cowboys than the Panthers. The game will air in the Carolinas, a small pocket of Georgia, all of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma and parts of some neighboring states.

But the game that’s getting the most exposure in this time slot is the contest between the Redskins and Giants. As you might expect, that game will air throughout the entire Northeast and also will get some good play out West.

The surprising thing is the Washington-New York game will be carried through most of Georgia, including the Atlanta market. The Falcons have a bye Sunday, but it would be logical to assume their fans might want to see how their NFC South rivals fare.

Then again, the Falcons are running away with the division, so it might make more sense to show Atlanta fans a game involving teams the Falcons could face in the postseason.

Superlatives on the Falcons

October, 8, 2012
10/08/12
9:24
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With some help from ESPN Stats & Information and Atlanta’s media-relations team, let’s take a run through the statistical highlights of the Falcons’ 24-17 victory against the Washington Redskins.
  • Washington did a good job keeping Atlanta’s passing game in check inside the numbers. But Matt Ryan was able to carve up the edges of the field. On throws outside the numbers, Ryan was 19 of 25 (76 percent) for 184 yards and both of his touchdowns.
  • Tight end Tony Gonzalez had a huge day, catching 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Gonzalez was targeted 14 times, the most he’s been targeted since joining the Falcons. Gonzalez’s touchdown was his 24th catch on an end-zone target since the start of the 2008 season -- the most by any tight end during that span.
  • Gonzalez’s 13 receptions were the second-highest total of his career. He had 14 catches while playing for Kansas City on Christmas Day 2004.
  • Coach Mike Smith now has a 48-21 record. With a win next week, he’ll tie Dan Reeves for most victories in franchise history. Reeves was 49-59-1.
  • Gonzalez tied Don Hutson for eighth place on the NFL’s all-time touchdown receptions list. Tim Brown and Steve Largent, who each had 100 touchdown catches, are the next players ahead of Gonzalez.
  • Ryan led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter Sunday. He also did that the previous week against Carolina. In his five-year career, Ryan now has 18 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.
  • Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 20 straight games. He also has thrown two or more touchdowns in each of his last six games.
  • The Atlanta defense held the Redskins to 12 first downs and allowed Washington to convert on one of nine third-down attempts.
  • Matt Bryant now has made a 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, the longest road field goal of his career. Bryant also has made 23 straight field goals. He set the franchise record with 30 straight between 2010 and '11.
  • Roddy White had four catches for 68 yards. He now has 561 career receptions. He needs 13 more to pass Terance Mathis as the franchise’s all-time leader.

LANDOVER, Md. -- Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons’ 24-17 victory against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday.

What it means: The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. They’re also high atop the NFC South standings. This was not a particularly pretty game, but there’s a nice trend developing. The Falcons, who many view as a “dome team," have won three outdoor games already this season. This one came on a day that was cool and rainy.

Play of the day: With the Redskins driving, cornerback Dunta Robinson saved the game for the Falcons with an interception with 1:53 remaining.

Hit of the day: Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon knocked Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III out of the game with a big hit in the third quarter. The Redskins said Griffin was “shaken up," and he did not return to the game. He was replaced by Kirk Cousins, who threw two fourth-quarter interceptions.

One thing I never want to see again: Joe Hawley attempting to catch a pass. With fullback Lousaka Polite out with an injury, the Falcons sometimes used Hawley as a blocking back. But with 5:50 left in the third quarter, the Falcons tried to throw a pass to Hawley. He was wide open, but the ball went right off his hands. When you have the talent at the skill positions that the Falcons have, Hawley should never be thrown the ball.

He never gets old: Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez has said he’s 95 percent sure he’ll retire after this season. He might want to rethink that. Gonzalez had a huge day, catching 13 passes for 123 yards.

What’s next: The Falcons host the Oakland Raiders next Sunday.

Halftime thoughts on Falcons-Skins

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
2:27
PM ET
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Atlanta Falcons are struggling as they try to start the season 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.

They’re tied, 7-7, with the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. The Falcons put together a nice drive at the end of the first half and Matt Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez with 1-yard touchdown pass.

But Ryan didn’t have a great first half before that. He made two uncharacteristic mistakes.

Ryan had a pass intercepted by Ryan Kerrigan, who returned it for a touchdown with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter. Ryan and center Todd McClure also botched a snap with 4:56 remaining in the second and the Redskins put together a nice drive, but didn’t come away with any points as Billy Cundiff missed a field goal attempt.

Atlanta has played well on defense, but the Falcons need to get their offense going in the second half if they want to stay undefeated.

I'll be back with a Rapid Reaction soon after the game ends and a full column a couple of hours after that.

Polite, Palmer out for Falcons

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
11:40
AM ET
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Atlanta Falcons will be without starting fullback Lousaka Polite and reserve tight end Michael Palmer in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

Polite is sidelined with a hamstring injury and Palmer has been bothered by a shoulder injury. The Falcons can use running back Jason Snelling as a fullback. When Palmer and Polite were injured last week, the Falcons also used offensive linemen Mike Johnson and Joe Hawley at tight end and fullback.

The other inactives for the Falcons are quarterback Dominique Davis, cornerback Terrence Johnson, offensive tackle Lamar Holmes, defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

NFC South programming notes

October, 6, 2012
10/06/12
12:33
PM ET
TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -- I’m getting ready to head toward Washington, D.C. to cover Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins.

I’ll check in from my hotel in suburban Maryland later this afternoon if there’s any news worth noting around the NFC South.

If not, join us Sunday morning. I’ll be at FedEx Field a couple hours before game time and will get you pregame notes and inactives. Should be a good day because we’ve got the three NFC South games in three different time slots.

The Falcons play at 1 p.m. ET, the Panthers take on the Seahawks in the late-afternoon time slot and the Saints host the Chargers on Sunday night.

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