Or, Redskins win. I learn nothing.
Big day for Ladell Betts as the Redskins beat the stuffing out of the Texans 31-15. I'm happy for Ladell. He's a 5th year guy, been the steady stand-in and he'll be a free agent after this season. It seems unlikely the Redskins will keep him, choosing either to upgrade (or 'upgrade') with one of the other free agent RBs from the offseason crop, or losing him outright to another team that may move him up the depth chart (hello, Texans, Buccaneers).
So this was a win. But I was not impressed. Rodney over at Texans Rock, our 5 Questions partner for this game, was wallowing in Texan badness the whole day:
I would rather watch two homeless men having sex on a street corner than the Texans play football. They are totally getting walked all over. Talk about zero effort. ...If I had to rank things in order of least painful to most most painful on my eyes it would go: Homeless sex, Texans football and a sitcom with Charley Sheen.
His post-game wrap was even harsher, though thankfully, Charlie Sheen-free.
So the Texans are a bad team. A really bad team. A team so bad, they have revived the Saints' tradition of wearing bags over their heads. So this would have been a perfect time for the Redskins to experiment with some downfield passing. Instead, they merely won with the same game plan as has lost them the past two games.
Sure, it's great having Clinton Portis back, though he's clearly not in game shape. (That 74-yard shovel should have been a TD, but he got gassed -- and speaking of gassed, what's with all the oxygen? Isn't Houston at sea level? The last time I saw a guy need so much oxygen, it was in a David Lynch movie.) So the running game was upgraded, but I don't think it's a stretch to say the the Redskins probably could have won without Clinton.
At the outset, the Redskins defense looked like it was about to turn in another horrible performance, and to be sure, was uneven. Andre Johnson had 152 receiving yards, including the big oh-my-gosh-they-gave-up-another-one 54 yarder that set up the Texans first score. At that point, Brandon and I were looking at each other like, great, they're going to get killed by the Texans. The defense only got to David Carr once, and even as the Texans were unable to make plays on defense, I realized David is not the problem there. Gregg Williams needs to cut back on the penalties.
Watching the same short passing game, I get the sense that someone in Redskins Control Center is saying, see? See? It works! Newsflash: the Jaguars allowed 26 yards rushing in the Monday night game against the Steelers, and only 141 yards through the air, and pulled down two big picks late in the game. If Redskins the brain trust looks at this game against the Texans as a validation of the gameplan so far, this bodes ill for the season.
As a matter of perspective, Bob Papa on Sirius the NFL channel Opening Drive show yesterday was chatting with Cris Carter, and disagrees with me. He thinks this was a 'reset' for the Redskins, a confidence builder, and that the offense is going to start evolving, and that the offense we'll see in November is not the offense we see now. La Canfora agrees with that basic position, as stated in his Redskins Insider blog (linked below), and it's a valid argument. I'm just worried about how the Redskins get there. The Jags are a tough team, but playing in Redskins Stadium. Then the next week, the Redskins travel to the Giants, where Jersey dropped a 36-0 shutout on the Redskins last season. Let's hope the owner is in better health this year.
Adam Archuleta is officially terrible in pass coverage.
Over at the Washington Post, the story was all about a big win. La Canfora:
The ball rarely traveled even 10 yards through the air
A good defense is just going to walk that safety up and dare Brunell to go long. More telling to me was not La Canfora's game wrap, but his Redskins Insider blog:
Not sure how much of the offensive fireworks to attribute to the Redskins' prowess. I think this was a nice little precursor to Sunday's game against Jacksonville, which should tell us precisely where this group stands at the quarter-pole of the season. It was pretty clear that Al Saunders stripped down the offense and went with nothing but high-percentage throws.
Jason thinks this conservative, high percentage passing game might work against an aggressive defense like Jacksonville's, but I tend to disagree. The Jags have a stout run defense and will be stacking the box. Santana, Randle El and Brandon Lloyd are all burners. If Saunders, Gibbs and Brunell can't figure a way to get them open out in the secondary, it's going to be a looooong day on Sunday. This was a win, but the boobirds will be out Sunday if the Redskins falter.
No, I never mentioned Brunell's record in this post, that he set a record with 22 straight completions (op. cit.). Conflatulations to him. Now try a downfield pass.