Out of the Box: A day game at last, the challenges of 2010 continue as the red hot Texans come to town for a football game, 4:00pm on CBS, can Houston really throw top drawer running and passing games at the Redskins?
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The Story So Far: After eking out a game one divisional victory for the new coach and the new quarterback, the Redskins stepped back and assessed their progress, so far the defense looks to be in midseason form and poised to be solid enough to give the offense room to grow, which it will have to do given that the team did not even generate 250 yards of total offense Sunday night.
Speaking of the defense, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who forced then recovered Dallas tailback Tashard Choice's fumble, running it all the way back for the team's only touchdown, has had something of a mid career renaissance. After being a typical Hokie knucklehead and downright jerk as a pro in Atlanta and Oakland, and some questionable behavior with the Redskins last season, head coach Mike Shanahan had a sit down with DeAngelo and asked him to step it up, become a man and take a leadership role. To hear DeAngelo talk about it, he is taking this stuff seriously. Whether it sticks and or results in him continuing to be a leading playmaker remains to be seen, for the money the team paid DeAngelo and for the responsibility he has as the lead cornerback, I certainly hope it does.
So far that Trent Williams thing is working out pretty well would you not say? Even head coach Mike Shanahan says so. Count me in the Russell Okung camp back in April and count me thankful the Redskins did not go that way, after facing Terrell Suggs in preseason and DeMarcus Ware in his first professional game, rookie left tackle now moves right on to Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams.
The Albert Haynesworth saga continues, Albert claims that he was not distracted in last week's game by trade talks which presumes of course that a man that cares nothing about his team can be distracted. The NFL trade deadline for this season is 6 October. On Wednesday Albert hurt an ankle in practice and was ultimately not available for the game.
So it looks liek a good gamble for coach Shanahan to take the points off the board in last week's game, even though it did not pay off.
The last time these teams played was in 2006 and despite what the Washington Post reported last week, the Redskins actually won that game, Redskins Ladell Betts had a great day in place of Clinton Portis who was out with a dislocated shoulder, Houston defensive end Mario Williams was a rookie just learning the pro game and Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell tied an NFL record with 22 straight completions. This will be a different game.
Curly R Aside: As a guy that will be waltzing into Eagles Stadium on 3 October wearing a number five McNabb jersey in burgundy and gold, I feel it is appropriate to bring to the attention of Redskins fans the looming plight of our friends up the road in Philadelphia. With quarterback Kevin Kolb, the guy for whom head coach Andy Reid jettisoned Donovan McNabb, looking ineffective in game one before suffering a concussion, backup Michael Vick came in and looked pretty damn good, almost won the game for Philadelphia.
As you might expect, the city, its fans and football coverage were all in a START VICK spasm this week, there is no easy way out of this situation for Andy Reid. Redskins fans will recall Jeff Garcia stepping in after Dono tore his ACL in 2006 and leading the Eagles to six straight wins, at that point with Jeff already 36 years old there were calls for the team to go with Jeff as the starter of the future because... Jeff was a better fit for the offense than the guy that had been running it since 1999?
Now Kevin Kolb, the guy no fan trusts but were all behind as far as he could succeed, is likely not to play this week, giving Michael Vick, who said the team could have won week one if he had quarterbacked the whole game, another four quarters to set the city on fire with a controversy. Even lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery is feeling uneasy, here is what he told me in an email yesterday:
I have a bad feeling that this is going to be a long year for the birds. They totally lost the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball on Sunday.LOL indeed, although his comment makes no mention of the quarterback situation in Philadelphia, the article Wilbert Montgomery linked me to does. Read it and be happy Redskins fans. By the way, at least one Eagles focused outlet has mentioned Jeff Garcia by name as a possibility to com back to the team.
Oppo Research: The Texans are no longer the pushover riding on the arm and dirty jersey of David Carr, and Mario Williams is no longer the subject of boos by a fanbase wishing the team had spent its 2006 draft pick on Reggie Bush or Vince Young. These Texans beat the Peyton Manning Colts handily with a ground attack led by second year undrafted tailback Arian Foster. Houston wants you to believe you can gameplan for Matt Shaub (Wahoowa!) and Andre Johnson and get the ground game, now if the Redskins plan for the ground game they will get the aerial attack, they are loaded. Did you know that Matt Schaub led the NFL last season in passing yards?
These teams are fairly well intertwined at the coaching level, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan coached Texans head coach Gary Kubiak for a season in Denver, then coach Shanahan brought coach Kubiak with him to San Francisco, then back to Denver as offensive coordinator. Gary Kubiak once in Houston hired coach Shanahan's son Kyle Shanahan to be an offensive coach, later offensive coordinator, in all the Redskins raided Houston for three coaches, along with Kyle Shanahan Washington nabbed quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur and strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright.
In terms of tactics for today's game, the Texans still run the basic offense Kyle Shanahan installed over the past two seasons, so both teams will have some idea of how the other will approach the offensive side of the game.
Trainer's Table: Safety Kareem Moore, who injured his knee in the second preseason game against Baltimore, is ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation, on Thursday he was back in pads for the first time since he was hurt, though Kareem was ruled out of this game on Friday in hopes he would be ready for game three at Saint Louis.
Defensive nose end Albert Haynesworth hurt his ankle on Wednesday (op. cit.), did not participate in any reps Thursday (op. cit.) but was back practicing on Friday (op. cit.), presumably meaning Albert would be available for the game today, he was listed as questionable Friday night, along with quarterback Donovan McNabb with his ankle, tailback Clinton Portis with his wrist and linebacker Perry Riley with his foot, though Albert's teammates expected him to play, he was a late addition to the inactives list and was replaced by defensive tackle Anthony Bryant.
Gameplan: No one does not think the offense will not get better, it is a matter of time not talent. On offense we will see the team continuing to work out the kinks, coach Shanahan appears to be establishing a rotation on the offensive line, with Kory Lichtensteigher spelling Derrick Dockery at left guard and Stephon Heyer taking snaps at right tackle in place of Jammal Brown. Is it for competition? Is it to keep his guys fresh? To expose the maximum number of guys to gameday conditions? Stay tuned.
The team needs another receiving option besides Santana Moss and Chris Cooley... but maybe not today. As far as the running game, keep banging.
On defense, unleash the hounds!
My Take in 60 Words or Less: Let the defense do its work and keep giving the offense chances, when the Redskins have the ball, be patient and stick to the plan.
Broadcast coverage, it is a CBS game and in the local markets only; SkinsCast weather, in the 80s, a pleasant but hot late summer game.
Enjoy the game, nice to have a day game for a change after five straight night games, I will be back over on ShedTV for the fifth week in a row, I love football on TV.
This is a gameday open thread.
NFL helmet logos from here.