- This would not be a good sign for the Redskins on Sunday (Photo: Associated Press)
So, now that we've all had five days to let the sweet smell of victory pass over us, it's time to roll on to Week Two in the NFL season. On Sunday, the Redskins entertain their second Texas team in as many weeks, and for my money, it's the Houston Texans, and not the guys with the stars on their helmets, that will pose the tougher test for the Redskins.
Find out why after the jump.
Washington Redskins vs. Houston Texans
Date: Sunday, September 19. Time: 4:15 p.m. Place: FedEx Field.
TV: CBS. Radio: WTEM 980. The Line: Houston by 3
The Texans on Offense
Last Week: Gained 355 total net yards on 61 plays (5.8 yards per play). QB Matt Schaub: 9/17, 107 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. RB Arian Foster: 33 carries, 231 yards, 3 TDs. WR Andre Johnson: 3 catches, 33 yards. WR Jacoby Jones: 2 catches, 29 yards. WR Ken Walter: 2 catches, 29 yards, 1 TD. Won vs. Indianapolis, 34-24.
There are many things that should concern Redskins fans about this Texans offensive attack. First, check out some of the highlights of Houston's win over Indianapolis last week, particularly those of Arian Foster's runs. Look at how the offensive line effectively engulfed the Colts front seven, allowing Foster to get to the second level time and time again. Pay special attention to the excellent game FB Owen Daniels had leading the way for Foster at the point of attack (his work on each of Foster's three touchdowns is thrilling to watch, as is Vonta Leach's block on Foster's third run).
Second, take a look at the Texans injury list. With the exception of Daniels (who got limited reps in practice Thursday) and tackle Duane Brown (who got full reps yesterday), the offensive line that dominated the Colts will be intact on Sunday. Fortunately for the Redskins, their defense is quite a bit better than the Colts (Case in point, they held Marion Barber and Felix Jones to a grand total of 77 yards on 16 carries last week). However, the Texans will not have the handicaps in that department that Dallas had last week.
Finally, take another look at the passing and receiving numbers from last week. Pedestrian, yes? Well, a lot of that was due to the fact that the Texans had the lead throughout the second half, and didn't need to throw the ball, not to mention that Gary Kubiak would have been foolish to keep the ball out of Fosters's hands. No Wade Phillips/Jason Garrett comedy moments for him. Matt Schaub threw exactly five passes in the second half last week. See for yourself.
The point is that unlike the Cowboys, the Texans won't beat themselves with penalties (just 7 for 50 yards last week compared to Indy's 5 for 73 yards) or boneheaded coaching decisions. And that definitely doesn't mean the Redskins secondary should take the day off, as I suspect Schaub will test them with a few deep balls early on Sunday afternoon.
The Texans on Defense
Last Week: Gave up 463 total net yards on 69 plays (6.7 yards per play). Allowed 44 rushing net yards on ten rushing plays (4.4 yards per rush). Allowed 419 passing net yards on 59 total pass plays (7.1 yards per play). Recorded two sacks for a total loss of 14 yards. Forced one turnover (fumble).
NOTE: These statistics don't tell the whole story. 152 of Peyton Mannings 433 passing yards came after the Texans made the score 27-10 with 8:41 left. This forced Manning to chuck the ball for the rest of the game.
In fact, this play, with 4:44 left in the third quarter, was the last designed run the Colts ran Sunday. After that point, Manning threw for 230 of his 433 yards, making those stats even more deceiving.
So, what does all this say about the Texans defense? Well, first it says that they got a big assist from Foster and the offense in keeping them off the field, though the time of possession (30:53 to 29:07 in Houston's favor) was just about even. They also did a reasonably good job of containing Joseph Addai when he was still being heavily used (16 touches for just 73 all-purpose yards). With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how the Redskins use Clinton Portis and/or Larry Johnson on Sunday. Could we see more swing passes out of the backfield or more straightforward draws, like we saw last week?
As usual, protecting Donovan McNabb will be key. Mario Williams has been taking limited reps while he deals with a groin injury. But a more significant issue could be that of DT Amobi Okoye, who missed Thursday's practice with an ankle injury. We'll see if that makes life easier for Redskins C Casey Rabach on Sunday.
Where McNabb should find some joy Sunday is against the Houston secondary, which is still an enigma without a Foster-aided boost. If LT Trent Williams, et. al. can perform like they did last week, and if McNabb's receivers (and their hands) are willing, I expect a better performance from Employee Number 5 on Sunday.
The Texans on Special Teams
The Redskins would be wise not to fool around with putting the ball in the hands of Jacoby Jones. Jones ripped off returns of 39 yards (punt) and 23 yards twice (on kickoffs) last week. He is dangerous, as is the recently maligned Steve Slaton, who ran back a kickoff for 33 yards last week.
Happy Friday, folks. I'll be out at Ashburn today as Mike Jones handles some family committments, so check in with me here and at TBD Skins for all the latest news.