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Week 2 - Houston Texans

Blognosticator - Henry

Hello BGO and welcome to Wild and Wooly Week Two in Washington! First of all, I’d like to thank the staff here for trusting me with submitting the first non-staff entry. It is truly an honor and a privilege. Secondly, I’d like to beat the staff over the collective head with the boogily stick for making me do the first entry. :)

Week two? Against the Texans? Really guys? If this were figure skating I’d be crying so hard my mascara would be running down my face and then after I blew the double axel I’d accuse the East Germans of rigging the order and go on a white wine spritzer bender.

But this is football, so excuse me while I clench my teeth, smear some war paint on my face and strap on my helmet. It’s go time.

I gotta level with you: just between you and me, I don’t really know that much about the Texans. They lie so far away from the center of the Washington Redskin Football Universe that half the time I accidentally call them the Titans. Until last week when they trounced a supposed Superbowl contender I hadn’t really thought about them much this season. Now I’m thinking about them a lot.

But first, let me tell you what I think about the Redskins.

The Redskins’ opening week mirrored that of the Texans in many ways. We beat a favored division rival at home, a rival many experts and casual fans had pegged to win their respective divisions and go deep into the playoffs. Both the Colts and the Cowboys are penciled in as among the top five teams in the league, though both of them have a history of playing soft against quality competition, of folding when they take a punch in the face, and of chronically bowing out early in the playoffs. Both the Redskins and the Texans showed they were capable of delivering that solid punch on Sunday.

But that’s where the similarities end. And that’s where this matchup gets interesting. The Redskins won a scrappy defensive battle with heady play and heart. They looked like last year’s Jets, harassing and frustrating a more talented opponent into making crucial mistakes. The Redskins are a team rebuilding on the fly with a new coach and a lot of new faces. They still have a few holes, but covered them extremely well while taking full advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses. This is good news. The Redskins are still finding themselves, but they are coached well enough to beat a pretty darn good team during that process. One could argue that our defense is only going to become more cohesive and more tenacious as the year goes on and the players become more comfortable with the new scheme. That McNabb will only become more comfortable with his offense. That our offensive line, with it’s rookie left tackle, will only get better as it gels throughout the year. That by beating a supposed contender right out of the gate, before this growing process has really taken hold, the Redskins can legitimately begin to put themselves into the conversation about which teams you don’t want to see on the schedule this year.

On offense the Redskins are … well, they’ve got nice gold pants. There is Moss, Cooley and Davis. Other than that, none of our receivers scare anyone, and that’s not great. Our running game has not been all that impressive so far, though it did pick up in the second half against a stout Dallas defense so it may be better than advertised. Maybe not. McNabb is a top ten QB still. And his pocket presence alone makes him a very big upgrade over any QB we’ve had since the early 90s. He buys a lot of time for his offensive line, which I think will end up paying dividends this year despite the lack of talent surrounding him. Hell, it already has.

Our defense has the makings of a truly nasty unit. And I mean that in a good way. The switch to the 3-4 has turned our group into an attacking unit that dictates the play to an offense. We’ll give up some plays, but we’ll get some too. I think we are starting to see why Haslett, despite the pedestrian rankings of his defenses, is so highly thought of around the league (funny sidebar, Sunday night I was texting back and forth with one of my buddies about the game, at one point he texts me 'Let’s go basketry save the O’ … apparently his smart phone changed 'Haslett’ to 'basketry.’ My friend decided to call him basketry the rest of the night.) Still our run defense is unproven and our free safety scares the hell out of me. Hopefully both have better games in the upcoming weeks.

The Texans have taken a different road to get where they are than the Redskins have. Houston is a team under a fifth year head coach that has been built through the draft. They know who they are and what they can do. They are a team that racks up a lot of yards and points and plays in a lot of shootouts. Last year they scored fewer than 16 points once, and gave up fewer than 16 points only three times. Given the score of their win against the Colts, it doesn’t appear that trend will change this season. They beat the Colts by out-gunning them, and then running all over them. Kind of the opposite of the way Redskins beat the Cowboys.

On offense the Texans are a nightmare for opposing defenses. They have a very good QB in Schaub, a nice WR corps led by the best WR in the league in Johnson, a very good TE in Owens and as of Sunday the makings of a very potent and dangerous running attack. They are the Cowboys without the extensive offensive line trouble. If there’s one chink in their offensive armor, it’s that Schaub is a good QB, but not elite and can get rattled if he gets banged around enough.

On defense the Texans do two things well: They stuff the run and rush the passer. Mario Williams is good at both, and the rest of their line is very solid. That’s a pretty nice combination to have, but they are soft in the secondary and can be exploited if they can’t get to McNabb. If the game stays close and the Texans can’t pin back their ears and blitz all day they can be hurt through the air.

So let’s get down to it, shall we?

I don’t think the Texans are going to plunk 34 on us. Despite our decade-long flirtation with crapulence, the Redskins have done one thing consistently well over the years: Play defense. We don’t always win the game, but we know how to keep the score down. As we saw last week, against a team that is accustomed to high scoring affairs that can be frustrating. The longer the score stays low and close, the better the chance we have of winning this game. I would think a shootout favors the Texans, so if we can avoid having to try to keep pace with them, so much the better. Our run defense is still a big question mark, but even given that I don’t think Foster will run for 231 yards and average 7 yards a carry. As suspect as our run defense may be, we are not the Colts. Schaub will have to throw more than nine completions to beat us, and when he does drop back we’ll need to get to him. He only threw 17 passes against the Colts but they sacked him twice. Basketry will need to figure out how to get to him early and often. Our corners are good, but not good enough to hang with that WR corps for long, and like I said, Doughty scares me.

On offense I think we get our TD this week. :) McNabb nailed that fade pattern last week and only stellar corner play broke it up. Against the Texans we’ll get one of those. McNabb’s ability to keep plays alive is crucial this week. I don’t think the Texans have an answer for Moss and if we can get him the ball in space a few times he might just break one. That also means that our Williams is going to have to find a way to contain their Williams. Mo is as good a pass rusher as Ware, and probably better than Ware against the run. Which brings me to the running game. At some point we need to establish one. Against a high-scoring team like this the run game is absolutely crucial. We saw how the Dallas defense started to soften up in the fourth quarter. We need to build on that. I don’t know if Shanahan finally saw something or Dallas just wore down. Given how little time the Dallas D was on the field I’m hoping it’s the former.

And of course the wildcard in all this is Kyle Shanahan. Does him being their old OC and our new OC help us or help them? I have no clue, but it has to be mentioned.


Who wins and the score: It’s the unstoppable force against the immovable object this week. Those types of matchups are always tough to predict. It’s week two, and we all know week one games are always crazy. Week two matchups are always tough to predict. It’s two teams coming off upset victories, and possibly facing a let-down game. Always tough. So, all things being equal I’m going to go with the home team. Redskins 20, Texans 17.

How they do it: Moss has a big day. Seven catches for 110 yards and a TD. McNabb has a better week than last week, but still not great. 18 for 33, 220 yards and a TD. The defense gets a sack/fumble which sets up another score.

Ballsy prediction: If I want that cool avatar I gotta hang one out there so here it is: Carlos gets a pick this week.

Texan stats: Once again our opponent out-gains us. Schaub passes for 280 yards and a TD. Foster runs for 140 and another TD. But they turn the ball over three times.

Owner sightings: We win this one and we’ll see Snyder arm raise/shirt tuck at least twice. Not including replays.

That is all. Hail to the Redskins and next year I want a better draw. :)

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