The good, bad, and more from the Redskins 17-6 loss in Houston.
1. Rush offense. It’s the only part of the team that you can say only good things about. Alfred Morris (14-91yds) and Roy Helu (4-46yds) averaged 7.6 yards per carry. The o-line, particularly when running away from Watt was very good in the run game.
2. 1st-half defense. It would’ve been an A+ grade if not for Rambo’s blown coverage and tackle on the Hopkins touchdown. The Skins D forced 5 punts on Houston’s first 5 drives. On Houston’s first drive of the game, Cofield’s penetration allowed Baker to make a stop on 3rd and 1. On Houston’s 2nd drive, Robinson made a 3rd and 1 stop on a play Cofield was held on. On Houston’s 4th drive, Hatcher deflected Fitzpatrick’s 3rd down pass. Hatcher had a 3rd-down sack on Houston’s 5th drive. The defense minus the Rambo play was lights out in the first half.
3. 2nd-half offense moved the ball. The turnovers in the red zone cost them a legitimate chance to win the game but they got into the red zone because they ran the ball well and took what the defense gave them in the passing game. Soft coverages left Garcon (10-77) and Jackson (8-62) wide open for most of the day on short quick throws. Griffin did a nice job of getting the ball out quickly and accurately. He hit receivers in stride in the 2nd half. A throw to Roberts and the one to Paul where he fumbled were the two biggest yardage plays of the day. Both were perfect throws. Stretching the field was not an option and they didn’t force it because they didn’t have to. They were in the game down one score and stuck with the gameplan of taking what Houston gave them. Unfortunately, they couldn’t finish with points because of the turnovers.
4. Andre Roberts. He averaged 28 yards per kickoff return and 18 on punt returns. It would’ve been better on punt returns if not for a great tackle by his own teammate Darrell Young.
1. Turnovers/mistakes. Two turnovers instead of scores on the two best offensive drives of the game to start the 3rd quarter were killers. Add to that a blocked punt, blocked PAT, and the bad coverage/tackle play by Rambo on the Hopkins’ touchdown and all of that was too much to overcome, especially on the road. The Niles Paul fumble was unforced. The Griffin/Morris fumble was a result of Griffin tripping over Lichtensteiger’s foot. The blocked punt appeared to be Helu’s missed block. There were other game-impacting mistakes like the sack taken by Griffin on a 3rd and 8 early in the 2nd quarter when they were in FG range. The rush didn’t give him much opportunity to throw it away but it looked like a missed chance at the line of scrimmage. Houston showed blitz, there were still 10 seconds on the playclock but it looked like Griffin never saw it. There were near mistakes like Morris’ near-fumble at the 1 that was challenged but there wasn’t enough video evidence to overturn. If that had been ruled a fumble, the Skins would’ve been shut out.
2. End of first-half clock/game mgt. It was his first game as a head coach but Gruden can’t let the clock run out on the half when you have the ball on your own 41. Even though it was 3rd and 25, a throw underneath against soft 3rd and long coverage could get you close to FG range. Let’s say you throw it underneath to Helu and he gets to the Houston 37. It’s still short of the first down but then you can run the clock down and attempt a long FG to end the half. Letting the clock run out was really a head-scratcher.
3. 2nd-half defense. After a very good first half with the exception of the mistake by Rambo, the defense allowed Houston to eat up 12 minutes of clock on two of their first three drives of the 2nd half. Houston was 7 for 9 on 3rd-down on three 2nd half possessions. Like the Redskins, the Texans only scored 3 points in the 2nd half because they turned it over in the red zone too.
4. Officiating. The game’s crew was clearly still in preseason mode. The two roughing-the-passer calls on Swearinger and Jenkins are two of the worst calls I’ve ever seen. There’s no way the league can look at those two plays and confirm they were the correct calls. Both players, Swearinger and Jenkins, made textbook tackles based on the rules. Neither hit was helmet-to-helmet, neither was late, neither was too low or too high, neither was leading with the helmet….just awful calls. The intentional grounding call on Griffin late in the first half was the wrong call also. That was a big play even though there was an offensive P.I. call on the same play because of the loss of down.
1. JJ Watt is what an elite defensive playmaker looks like. The Redskins don’t have anyone in his class. Then again, most teams don’t.
2. Tress Way punted very well. The block didn’t appear to be his fault; it looked like Helu missed a block.
3. The missed PAT…couldn’t tell if it was kicked too low or not.
4. Ryan Kerrigan continues to be a guy that makes plays that impact games. His tackle/strip on Foster in the red zone early in the 4th quarter kept the Skins in the game.
5. Can’t imagine this was the plan but Logan Paulson was matched up one-on-one with Watt on at least 2 plays.
6. D-Hall’s 15-yard penalty on Houston’s first 2nd-half drive was offset by a Houston penalty but still…he can’t lose his cool there. The Redskins forced a punt on that drive but lost some potential yardage because of the offsetting penalties.
7. Griffin wasn’t much of a run-threat today but the quick throws against soft coverage combined with a strong running game should’ve been enough to win if not for the turnovers/mistakes. The only play that looked like it may have been a read-option style play was the 3rd and 1 Morris run where he got nailed by Watt behind the line of scrimmage. It looked like Griffin could’ve kept it and run for huge yardage.
8. By my count, the Redskins ran 54 of 63 offensive plays from either the Shotgun or Pistol formation. This is clearly where Gruden thinks Griffin is most comfortable, especially when throwing the ball.
9. On their only TD drive of the game, the Redskins didn’t throw the ball once. Roberts’ 25-yd punt return gave them the ball at Houston’s 46. Morris and Helu carried 3 times for 45 yards down to the 1….D. Young scored.
10. Jordan Reed injured on his first catch of the year….not very durable it appears.