Monday, September 20, 2010

Houston's Explosive Johnson


Takeaway Drill: No problems in the passing game, Donovan McNabb can still sling it and there are receivers on this team; a ground game still absent; a secondary gassed; a loss to a legitimate team.


Quick jump to


Monday Walkthrough: A strange paradox as the Redskins easily and often get to quarterback Matt Schaub yet he effortlessly completes pass after pass and the Redskins lose a seventeen point lead then the game, losing 30-27 to the Houston Texans to drop Washington to 1-1. We will take the two sides to the coin approach in the Soapbox.

Redskins get the ball to start the first quarter, Donovan McNabb is six for six on Washington's first possession, Clinton Portis carries twice, there is little room, Graham Gano sets up for a 41 yard field goal, it is good and the Redskins take an early 3-0 lead. The Texans get the ball for the first time, the kickoff lands in the end zone but return man Steve Slaton stutter steps out of the end zone in a huge gaffe and Houston's offense starts inside its own one yard line, Matt Schaub works out of that jam on first down, two plays later LaRon Landry rushes Matt Schaub who tosses to tight end Owen Daniels, Calos Rogers steps in, bobbles the catch (of course) and intercepts that pass, Redskins ball. Washington gets the ball for the second time, Dono finds Chris Cooley for 35 yards to put Washington in scoring position, the running game goes nowhere and Graham Gano kicks a 27 yard field goal, it is good and the Redskins take a 6-0 lead. Houston's second possession moves to midfield in just three plays, the Texans move fairly easily to the Redskins five and that is where the quarter ends with the Redskins leading 6-0.

The second quarter opens with Houston continuing their second possession, on the first play of the quarter Matt Schaub connects with Jacobi Jones for a touchdown, and Houston takes the lead, 7-6. The Redskins' third possession starts with a deeeeeep 62 yard pass to Joey Galloway on a playaction with reverse fake, Mike Sellers and Santana Moss figure in near the goal line, on second and goal from the one, Clinton Portis takes it in for the score and the Redskins retake the lead 13-7. The Texans get the ball for the third time, Vonnie Holliday and Adam Carriker sack Matt Schaub on first down, two plays later Matt is rushing out of the pocket and the Texans are punting. Washington gets the ball for the fourth time, Santana makes a first down but three and out after that, Redskins punt. The Texans' fourth possession is a methodical movement down the field, LaRon rushes on a blitz third and nine from the Redskins 23, he and Lorenzo Alexander meet for the sack and Neil Rackers sets up for a 47 yard field goal which is wide right and the Redskins take over at their own 37 yard line. The Redskins get the all for the fifth time, Mike Sellers drops a long pass then on the next play tight end Fred Davis catches a long pass in stride for 62 yards to the Houston one yard line, two plays later Clinton Portis takes it in and the Redskins extend the lead to 20-7. Houston gets the ball for the fifth time with less than a minute and a half left in the half, they scramble and dodge for yards but get no serious gains, this drive essentially ends when LaRon Landry sacks Matt Schaub on second and six at midfield, with nine seconds left in the half Matt tosses a complete and the clock expires with the Redskins leading 20-7.

The Texans get the ball to start the third quarter, Houston's sixth drive starts on the Houston fifteen yard line, pretty methodical including Andre Johnson and a QB sneak, the Texans stall in Redskins territory, Neil Rackers kicks a 47 yard field goal and Houston draws to 20-10 Washington. Washington gets the ball for the sixth time, a block in the back on the return sets the Redskins back more than twenty yards, Joey Galloway catches a ball then Artis Hicks sends the team back five yards on a false start, Santana Moss bails the team out with a first down, Dono is sacked on the next play, Anthony Armstrong pulls in twenty yard catch on third and ten, two plays later Dono hooks up with Roydell Williams for 36 yards, Chris Cooley goes in for the score on the Redskins next play, a toss under pressure of Dono's back foot, extra point good and the Redskins stretch their lead to 27-10 on a nine play, 92 yard drive. Houston's seventh possession starts like most others, with good gains through the air, a Houston penalty and a Matt Schaub sack put the Texans in third and fifteen, a screen to Arian Foster gets the first down plus on a fifty yard play, Kevin Walter scores on the next play, extra point good to bring the Texans back to 27-17 Redskins, that is also the end of the third quarter. The Redskins seventh possession starts to open the fourth quarter, Larry Johnson loses ten yards, this drive is a three and out and looks bad. The Texans gets the ball for the eighth time, Kevin Walter catches one for 35 yards, not much more from there but they are in field goal range, Neil Rackers makes a 43 yard field goal and the Redskins lead is cut to 27-20. Washington gets the ball for the eighth time, Clinton Portis finds some room to run, then again, a false start ruins a third and one in scoring position, the third and six is almost picked off, Graham Gano lines up for a 29 yard attempt… and it's blocked! Score remains 27-20 and the Texans get the ball at their own sixteen yard line. Houston's ninth possession starts with a sack of Matt Schaub by London Fletcher, it gets no better from there as the Texans punt, a short one at that. The Redskins get the ball for the ninth time with just under five minutes left in regualtion, five yards to Mike Sellers, an eight yard loss on an end around to Santana Moss, a long incomplete in the end zone to Joey Galloway and the Redskins are punting. Houston gets the ball for the tenth time, a holding penalty takes Houston back nine yards to their 29 with just over three minutes in regulation, LaRon Landry and Reed Doughty collide going for the INT, London Fletcher in pass coverage on the next play, an incomplete, Andre Johnson catches his tenth pass of the day next, two plays later Matt Schaub's pass is broken up at the goal line and it is fourth and ten for the Texans, Matt scrambles, steps up in the pocket and slings it 34 yards to Andre Johnson who leaps to grab it, extra point good and the game is tied at 27-27. Washington gets the ball for the eleventh time with just over two minutes left in regualtion, two minute drill time for Donovan McNabb, a short gain then a sack by Mario Williams through Trent Williams who gets hurt, when play resumes, Santana Moss catches a twenty yard catch but it comes back on a holding call on Trent Williams' replacement Stephon Heyer, on third and thirty the Redskins toss a little screen to Santana and it is a three and out, punting a disastrous possession. The Texans eleventh possession starts with one minute left in regulation, non sense of urgency on the part of Houston, the Texans three and out, lining up to punt with three second left in regulation, former Redskins punter Matt Turk runs around and downs himself with no time on the clock as regulation expires with the game tied 27-27.

Texans win the toss and elect to receive to start overtime, their twelfth possession, great kick coverage as Houston starts at their own twelve yard line, Kevin Walter comes up big on first down, and second down, two run plays, Matt Schaub is almost sacked, Matt throws an incomplete on third and four at the Redskins 34 yard line, Houston takes an intentional delay of game penalty to give their punter some more room to kick and the Texans are punting. Washington's twelfth possession begins on their own twenty yard line, Donovan McNabb is sacked on first down, a late hit on Antonio Smith helps out Washington, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss have great catches, an incomplete to Santana Moss puts the Redskins at a 52 yard field goal attempt, Graham Gano lines up… and Gary Kubiak calls timeout an instant before the snap, icing the kicker, Graham misses the re do and the Texans get the ball at their own 42 yard line. Houston gets the ball for the thirteenth time, it starts with LaRon Landry knocking down Matt Schaub as he throws, with Chris Horton in for LaRon Landry, Chris commits an offsides penalty, a questionable Jacobi Jones catch sets up another 28 yard catch to some other guy, a little more stalling and Neil Rackers sets up and kicks a 35 yard field goal to win the game 30-27 Texans, the Redskins gave up a seventeen point lead.


Soapbox: Two sides to this coin as the Redskins drop to 1-1: Heads the Redskins go toe to toe with an elite AFC team, beat them down with solid defense and aggressive passing, and simply wear out at the end. Tails the Redskins catch a better team by surprise, fail to establish a clock eating run game then lose on a combination of exhaustion and individual mistakes.

Take your pick.

First let us look at the dark side, I always prefer bad news first: No running game. The Redskins managed eighteen yards on seventeen runs, the blockers do not seem to be breaking holes, Clinton Portis had one drive where he delivered and Larry Johnson, well I think we have seen enough of that (op. cit.). The closest thing the Redskins had in this game to a ground attack was the now ubiquitous receiver screen to Santana Moss then he darts around in traffic.

Also on the topic of offense, despite all that passing, all those yards and all those awesome catches, the Redskins were two for ten on third down, in two games that makes the Redskins five for 23 overall on third down. Average third down distance in this game: 11.5 yards, that is called moving backwards.

Continuing, a pass defense that just looked like swiss cheese, Matt Schaub was 38 of 52 for 497 yards, two Houston players caught eleven or more passes and each had 140 yards or more receiving, the Washington secondary was really exposed in this game, the Redskins could not gameplan for that passing offense and once safety LaRon Landry's body had finally had enough at the end of the game and Chris Horton came in and made two crucial mistakes to help end the game, revealing a problem with depth. At the free safety position, Reed Doughty is just a placeholder, here is to hoping free safety Kareem Moore lives up to billing once he returns from his knee injury. It was so bad that cornerback DeAngelo Hall announced after the game without prior clearance that he will be covering all opposing teams top wideouts from here on out, of course this is more of an aspirational goal.

Finally, special teams got a bloody nose today, tight end Fred Davis' lazy block on the Redskins third field goal attempt led directly to a block, of course the difference between overtime and a Redskins win was you guessed it, three points. Later in overtime kicker Graham Gano let himself get iced on a re kick of a 52 yard attempt, as others have told me a 52 yard field goal outdoors is not a chip shot so I should not be too hard on Graham, the way he lined up and knocked it through on the first attempt, it looks like mister I never get nervous was not actually too relaxed on the re kick (op. cit.), he was freaking out and pulled it right.

Now let us look at the bright side, Donovan McNabb can still light it up! At 28 of 38 for 426 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions the guy still has it and can carry a team, this was Dono's third most yards in a game in his entire career, a game that included two 62 yard completions and two others over fifty that were just off. And there are receivers on this team! Dono spread the ball to eight different players, four of them wearing receiver numbers. Santana Moss is still the workhorse with ten catches.

If the secondary is troublesome then at least the front seven are solid, six different players registered a half sack or more and the problem did not seem to be penetration, it was the goddamn Matt Schaub always had an option, man that is a well run offense. On the ground after gaining 231 yards against the Colts in week one, tailback Arian Foster ran nineteen times for 69 yards, under 3.7 yards per carry, Washington kept him in check.

And welcome back to the land of the living cornerback Carlos Rogers with your first interception since Jim Zorn's first season way back in 2008, a span of sixteen starts in seventeen possible games, of course Carlos had to deflect the pass, bobble it in the air and almost drop it before pulling it in.

All in all a very disappointing game if for no other reason than because it was so close to a win, a totally different and productive type of disappointment compared to that felt following a blowout loss.


Chattering Class: At the Washington Post, columnist Tracee Hamilton reminds us that the Redskins will be entertaining by their unpredictability alone, as a long suffering Redskins fan finally hopeful the adults are finally in charge I like to think the game experiences like this week and last week are the prep cooking for a feast eventually to come.

Also at the Post, Tom Boswell goes high enough in altitude to make a meta point: This is the type of loss that would have damaged the season of previous Redskins teams, and by that I do not spare Jim Zorn or Joe Gibbs. Tom also draws a parallel that I am sure we will hear more about as the months of this season wear on: Donovan McNabb is the closest thing to the second coming of Sonny Jurgenson this town will see in a long time.


Omnibus: Broadcasters: Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, the CBS guys usually get at least one thing wrong when they cover an NFC team. One was Dan Fouts calling Santana Moss Santon- before catching himself.

Uniform Watch: The new established home uniform of burgundy jersey and gold pants, instant classic (new tradition?)

Albert Haynesworth, inactive, ankle (*kaff* *doggingit* *kaff*)

Plus internets list: LaRon Landry for rushing Matt Schaub into the bad pass, then Carlos Rogers for his first INT since 2008, of course Carlos had to bobble it and catch it twice; LaRon and Lorenzo Alexander for sacking Matt Schaub to end Houston's fourth drive, the Redskins would score on the next possession; LaRon for sacking Matt Schaub at midfield at the end of the half to help keep the Texans out of field goal range; Anthony Armstrong in the Redskins sixth possession, third quarter, bailing the team out on third and ten; Brian Orakpo in the Texans seventh possession, third quarter, coming around from the backside of the play and sacking Matt Schaub as Matt was running the other way toward the sideline, good ground speed by Brian.

Gaffes list: LaRon failed to cover his man on Houston's TD pass, second possession, second quarter, that left Carlos Rogers blocked and unable to make the play; Redskins sixth possession, third quarter, Mario Williams came through right tackle Jammal Brown to sack Dono; Larry Johnson losing ten yards reversing himself on the first play of the Redskins seventh drive, fourth quarter; Redskins eleventh possession, fourth quarter, Trent Williams gave up a huuuuge sack of Donovan by Mario Williams, Trent was injured and lay on the field; Fred Davis for a nonblock that led to the blocked field goal; Chris Horton getting sucked in on a hard count for an offsides, then two plays later getting burned over the middle for the pass that put the Texans in final scoring position.

Three plus possessions for the Redskins and this is an all passing affair, Washington scored its first positive rushing yard in the second quarter. Looks like it was not Andy Reid after all.

353 sellouts in Washington, the stat the broadcasters laid on us in the second quarter, 352 games, if we assume that is regular season games, works out to 44 years, taking us back to the late 1960s which sounds about right. Note there were non sellouts in the 1987 strike season, those are not counted by the league.

Nice stat: Donovan McNabb two passes of more than sixty yards in the first half.

Houston's first penalty came in the third quarter, when Andre Johnson stepped out of bounds then came back to catch the ball. Matt Schaub was sacked on the next play.

Andre Johnson leaving the field for the second time, this time in the fourth quarter. No reason given. Kevin Walter stepped up in Andre's place.

337 yards total offense through seven Washington possessions, 334 yards in the air, that means only three yards rushing to this point.

Working titles for gamewrap: Eagles Kind of Loss; The Passing Game Seems All Right; How Did They Go From Their End Zone to Us Losing in Five Minutes? And Then Things Fell Apart; Houston's Explosive Johnson.

Reed Doughty and LaRon Landry colliding in the Texans tenth possession, fourth quarter, both trying to go for the interception, they both come out of the game, the team is then forced to call the first of its three timeouts to get LaRon back in the game.

Interesting stat heading into overtime: The Texans were 0-6 overall in overtime. The Redskins were 19-12-1.

In overtime Dan Fouts referred to Houston's explosive Johnson.

In summary: The Redskins gave up a seventeen point lead in the second half, had a field goal blocked which would come back to haunt them, let the kicker get iced on a potential game winning field goal then with LaRon Landry out for the final drive the Texans drove down the field for the final score.


The Mastermind: Lots of great shots of head coach Mike Shanahan speaking sharply into his headset, gesturing authoritatively to assistants and simply seething. I like this guy.

Number Five: A career day, 28 of 38 for 426 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions for quarterback Donovan McNabb, in the aftermath of the Eagles trade of Dono to Washington and the pickle the Eagles are in right now with Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, Andy Reid must feel pretty stupid about now.

Silver and Back: Rookie left tackle Trent Williams had a rough day against Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams, Mario had three sacks though only two of them were through Trent, then at the end of regulation Trent injured his knee and had to come out of the game, the sideline test showed no torn ligaments as did an MRI, we will know more about Trent's injury this week.

Albert the Butthurt: Defensive nose end Albert Haynesworth did not play, was not active, he hurt his widdle ankle and could not go, I think the team is trying to keep him off the field as they work a trade by the 19 October trading deadline.


Washington Post recap, photo gallery. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos, video highlights.

Next up, the Redskins play their second straight 4pm game, in Saint Louis against the Rams, London Fletcher's former team, the home of prized rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and ultimate destination of almost Redskins head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the Redskins have played the Rams three of the past four seasons, including last season's boo inducing home win and 2006's overtime road debacle.

Matt Schaub: Screencap of CBS broadcast by neighbor Scott; Steve Spagnuolo AP photo from here.