No NFL team has been worse on the road than the Washington Redskins, and coach Jay Gruden is not quite sure what he can do to change that.
“I don't know any magical pep talks that'll help in that regard,” Gruden said Thursday. “We're practicing hard. We're preparing the right way. Now it's just a matter of we've got to go out and perform on the road. But I don't know what words will help that.”
The latest challenge comes Sunday and it's among the toughest out there, at least on paper: The Redskins (4-5) travel to take on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers (9-0).
The Redskins are 0-4 on the road, part of an eight-game losing streak away from home that dates to last season and is the longest active such drought in the NFL, according to STATS. The Panthers, meanwhile, are 5-0 at home, part of a seven-game winning streak in Charlotte that is tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the league's longest current run at home, STATS said.
Overall under second-year coach Gruden, the Redskins are only 1-11 on the road. The lone victory came in October 2014 on a Monday night in overtime at the Dallas Cowboys.
“Jay talks about it with us all the time. You have to win road games to try to do something in the league,” fullback Darrel Young said. “You have to try to avoid penalties and do the little things right that maybe -- maybe -- you can get away with at home.”
Young noted crowd noise plays a role. Quarterback Kirk Cousins agreed.
“We're going to be able to have a little bit better command when you're at home and don't have to deal with the noise. The noise is something you expect and you have to operate well in it. We've played really good football teams on the road, too. Not a lot of people go into Foxborough and win or go into some of these tougher environments. So you consider the opponent a little bit.”
Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams pointed to that, too.
“If you look at our opponents,” Williams said, “those guys aren't really losing a lot at home.”
Or anywhere, for that matter. So far, Washington's four road foes this season -- the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, New England Patriots -- are 14-5 at home, 25-12 overall.
“We haven't been very effective on the road this year. We go to the Giants; we laid an egg early. We played at the New York Jets and played a good first half and then laid an egg in the third quarter. Obviously, New England, we didn't play our best football there,” Gruden said. “We have a lot of games that we can look back on and say, ‘Why did this happen on the road?’”
NOTES: The Redskins signed RB Christine Michael to their practice squad and released RB Mack Brown from their practice squad. Michael was waived by the Dallas Cowboys this week; they acquired him by trading a late-round draft pick to Seattle at the start of the season. ... NT Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton missed practice Thursday because of a follow-up appointment with a headache specialist. “Hopefully they'll find some answers out for him,” Gruden said. ... CB Will Blackmon (personal reasons) and S Trenton Robinson (hamstring) also sat out Thursday.