Tale Of The Tape: Washington Redskins At Houston Texans
- QuarterbackThe Redskins begin the first year of the Jay Gruden regime with quite a bit to prove. That includes quarterback Robert Griffin III, who had a difficult second year after playing like a star through much of his rookie season. RGIII did not have a good preseason, and both his timing and accuracy looked off when he was in the pocket.The Texans are basically starting with a clean slate after last year’s disastrous 2-14 season. New head coach Bill O’Brien is hoping that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will be able to read defenses expertly and find the open receiver. If Fitzpatrick tires to force the ball into coverage, the Texans will be in trouble since he does not have the arm strength to get away with that.
- OffenseThe Redskins have a solid running game with Alfred Morris, but there’s a good chance the Texans will load the box to stop him if RGIII is not throwing the ball well in this game. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson gives Washington the kind of decisive playmaker that the team has lacked for years. Pierre Garcon is a dependable third-down receiver, while Jordan Reed is an emerging tight end.The Texans would like to think that Arian Foster will return to form this season and rush for 1,200 yards or more. That may be wishful thinking as Foster starts the season with a tender hamstring (probable). Veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson may not be happy in Houston, but he is still one of the more dangerous pass catchers in the league. Tight end Garrett Graham has dependable hands.
- DefenseThe Redskins’ defense will be under significant pressure this year if RGIII and the offense can’t hold up its end. The Washington defense simply does not have enough playmakers at this point, and Gruden will depend on outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (8.5 sacks last year) to lead the way. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall is talented, but he lacks consistency.As poorly as the Texans played last season, the defense held up its end from a statistical point of view. They should be even more productive this year. Defensive end J.J. Watt is probably the best all-around defensive lineman in the league, and No. 1 draft pick Jadaveon Clowney is a game-changing pass rusher. Jonathan Joseph is a top cover corner, but he is questionable with a toe injury.
- Special TeamsThe Redskins have been bad on special teams for years, and they were clearly the worst team in the league in that area last year. That means they have to get better. The Redskins wanted to replace Kai Forbath, but he returns after making 18-of-22 FG attempts last season.The Texans have also struggled with their all-around special teams play over the years, but they appear to be stronger than the Redskins. While placekicker Randy Bullock is below average, Shane Lechler (47.6 yards per punt in 2013) still has one of the strongest legs in the league.
The Texans would appear to have the talent advantage, but that was the case in many games last season and it didn’t help. A win in the opener would help rookie head coach Bill O’Brien create a new mindset in Houston. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports