Redskins-Panthers: Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen Could Be Decisive Factors
The Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers each have one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Could Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen end up being decisive factors in this contest?
Coming into the season, the Washington Redskins were set at the tight end position. Jordan Reed had a breakout 2015 campaign and depth players Vernon Davis and Niles Paul were set to make the team very deep at the position. The position has proven to be a strength for the team, despite Reed’s injury issues, and in most matchups, they have an advantage.
However, this Monday night that could change. The Panthers have a very strong tight end of their own in Greg Olsen. The 10 year veteran has long been one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL, and his size and vertical speed make him extremely difficult to cover. He definitely qualifies as the best tight end that the Redskins have faced this season.
With that said, both tight ends will play a major role in the passing game for each team. Reed is a big over the middle weapon while Olsen is arguably Cam Newton’s favorite target. At the end of the day, the team that gets the better production out of their tight end will be at a major advantage in this contest. This could be bad news for the Redskins.
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Though Reed suited up for the team last week, he was far from 100 percent. He had suffered an AC joint separation just a couple weeks prior, and he was only able to log 10 snaps. The team used him as more of a decoy than anything else. With an extra week of rest, he should be healthier, but there are still some major questions about whether or not he will be able to put up strong enough numbers to make an impact.
Making matters worse, the Panthers have a very strong group of linebackers and safeties that will be charged with covering him. Luke Kuechly is likely to return from injury as well, and that will only strengthen the middle of the Panthers defense. Reed will have some difficulty getting open, so a big day seems unlikely.
On the other side of the ball, the exact opposite is true. Olsen has an extremely favorable matchup because of injuries to the Redskins defenders. Main coverage linebackers Will Compton and Su’a Cravens are questionable for this game with a couple of injuries. At safety, the team has had issues in coverage thanks to Donte Whitner’s lack of speed. Olsen may end up being able to burn the Redskins defense and he will almost certainly be Newton’s top target during the game.
At the end of the day, these matchups are bad news for the Redskins. They are used to having the advantage at this position, but this week they do not. They just surrendered over 100 yards to Zach Ertz, and Olsen is more talented than him. It could be a rough week for the Redskins defense, and Joe Barry needs to make sure that he has some plans for how to combat the talented tight end.