coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/01/2014 12:10 PM in NFL

Washington at Houston Game Day Central

The Washington Redskins and a healthy Robert Griffin III will go up against the Houston Texans to kick off the season opener.
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coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/02/2014 04:56 PM

The Texans look to right the ship after dropping their last 12 games of the season a year ago and they start 2014 at home against the Redskins.

The “Washington’s” as many are referring to them as until a decision is made on the use of the team name “Redskins” is settled are looking to get back in the playoff fold this season after a disappointing 2013 that saw them finish at 3-13 and in the basement of the NFC East. Washington is trying to reload instead of rebuild after what they feel is an aberration last year as they are set with Robert Griffin behind centre, Alfred Morris in the back field, and a tandem of receiving options including Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Jordan Reed. Washington heads into Houston to take on a Texans team that suffered a very similar fate as themselves a year ago as they greatly underachieved and have a new look to their roster this season including the addition of first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Washington should be pretty solid on offense if Griffin can stay healthy and effective but there are huge concerns with both of those issues and it may not come as a surprise to anyone if Kirk Cousins takes the reigns before season’s end.

The Texans finished with the worst record in the NFL a year ago and while most of the blame fell on the shoulders of departed quarterback Matt Schaub there certainly was a lot more going on than just behind centre. Houston still has a lot of pieces in place to succeed as they have solid options through the air and on the ground in Andre Johnson and Arian Foster respectively and should get a ton of pressure on the opposing quarterback via JJ Watt and Clowney. Houston is poised to be the comeback team of the year and while they may not reach the level many expected them to climb to last season I think they could very well challenge for a wild card spot if they can find some stability at the quarterback position. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the leading candidate to take starter’s snaps and while he may not be an elite level talent he has a ton of starting experience and will be serviceable for the Texans.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/03/2014 01:12 PM

Quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins' first-team offense did not score a touchdown in the preseason. Griffin's last preseason throw was intercepted by the Baltimore Ravens.

But one thing is guaranteed at the start of the regular -- optimism. So first-year Coach Jay Gruden expressed that going into Sunday's opener at the Houston Texans, who will send the pass rushing duo of J.J. Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney after Griffin.

"I think we're in a good spot right now. Obviously, you didn't want to end a preseason on an interception or a poor performance like we did," Gruden said after practice Monday.

For the Redskins final preseason game last week at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden opted not to play Griffin and the other offensive starts. Neither did he play backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose preseason numbers easily outshined Griffin's.

"I just didn't feel it beneficial for our ones to go out against Tampa's twos (starters versus backups) on a short week and prove that we were good," said Gruden, previously offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I feel like we're good enough. I feel like we're a confident bunch. I don't think anybody lost any confidence. … I feel we're in good shape right now.

"We have a good game plan going into Houston, and it's just a matter of us executing and me calling a good enough game to keep Robert comfortable, stay out of those second and longs and third and longs like we were (against) in Baltimore and just moved forward and put that game behind us, learn from it and then set our sights on regular season."

In three preseason games (10 drives), Griffin completed 13-20 passes for 141 yards with two interceptions. He was sacked four times. He ran seven times for 27 yards and again had difficulties in deciding whether to slide or not to avoid hits.

Cousins his 35-54 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in the preseason. His passer rating was 101.6 compared to Griffin's 46.0

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/04/2014 05:32 PM

Coach Bill O’Brien named three of the Texans’ four starting linebackers on Wednesday.

Brian Cushing (inside/middle), Brooks Reed (strongside outside) and rookie Jadeveon Clowney (weakside outside) will initially take the field against the Washington Redskins on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

The fourth linebacker position (inside) will be decided closer toward kickoff. Whitney Mercilus, Mike Mohamed, Justin Tuggle, Jeff Tarpinian and Akeem Dent, among others, are candidates for the final spot in the team’s two-gap 3-4 defense.

“They all have a chance to be in there. And, you know, we move those guys around quite a bit,” O’Brien said at NRG Stadium. “Some guys will play inside, some guys will play outside; it’s not like a set four. It’s more like, OK, what is this package? What is that package? What is the best thing for us versus what the Washington Redskins are going to do?”

He added: “It’s something you’ll have to wait until game day. And (3-4) isn’t the only personnel that we play. So it depends what the first play of the game is, too.”

btb Posts:2279 Followers:163
09/04/2014 06:54 PM

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coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/05/2014 12:15 PM

Robert Griffin III knows he'll always have his critics, but he's only concerned with two - himself and new coach Jay Gruden.

The embattled Washington Redskins quarterback has moved past an injury-plagued season that saw him struggle and into a new-look offense set to debut Sunday on the road against a formidable Houston Texans defense.

Griffin helped the Redskins make the playoffs with a stellar 2012 rookie campaign before tearing his ACL in a postseason loss, and though he was ready for last year's opener, nagging injuries and tension with former coach Mike Shanahan led to him being shut down for the final three games.

His struggles - he had an 82.2 quarterback rating compared to 102.4 as a rookie - led to criticism, which increased during the preseason as he looked tentative at times.

For Griffin, he feels like that just comes with the territory.

"I've learned that not everybody's going to like you, and that's just the nature of the business," Griffin said. "You just have to move on from that kind of stuff. I think Jay being here has helped me grow as a person. Trust me, I'm not worried about anybody liking me.

"Our job is to ignore the noise and stay focused on what we have to."

Griffin has expressed a desire to be more of a conventional pocket passer rather than being known as a running quarterback despite thriving in Shanahan's read-option offense his first season.

Washington also has a more-than-capable workhorse back in Alfred Morris, who has rushed for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first two seasons in the league.

''I made my name throwing the ball in college,'' Griffin said. ''I won a Heisman Trophy with Baylor.''

He'll get plenty of opportunities to throw this season under Gruden, who took over after Shanahan's firing following Washington's 3-13 campaign. The Redskins signed former Philadelphia standout receiver DeSean Jackson and return Pierre Garcon, who led the league last season with 113 receptions.

Gruden isn't concerned with Griffin's ability to grasp the system and improve as the season begins.

''It will come,'' Gruden said. ''He's got the ability to do it, he's got the smarts to do it, he's got the wants to do it. He's just got to do it.''

For 11 straight seasons a team has gone from worst to first in its division, and Washington is hoping to extend that run to 12. Same goes for Houston, which finished 2-14 in 2013.

"They're going to come out wanting to right their ship, we're going to come out wanting to right out ship," Griffin said. "We're both going to play hard for our (new) coach. They have a lot of good players on that defense and we're going to have our hands full."

Bill O'Brien is now leading Houston after it fired Gary Kubiak in December. O'Brien inherits an imposing defensive front led by J.J. Watt, who just signed a six-year, $100 million contract extension with $51.8 million guaranteed.

''Money doesn't motivate me, greatness does,'' Watt said. ''I'm so fortunate that I don't have to worry about the money, so I can focus on the greatness. At the end of the day, I want to play this game because I want to be the absolute best I can be.''

Houston wasn't nearly at its best last season, but that failure helped add South Carolina standout Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick. Watt now has plenty of help in the pass rush and said the two have been working together to improve throughout the offseason.

''Every day we work a little something,'' Watt said. ''As you've seen in the (preseason) games, he's a very talented player. I just try and teach him a couple of the things I've learned in my time in this league and ways that we can help each other because I really think it can be a lot of fun.''

Clowney, though, revealed that he suffered a concussion in a joint practice with Denver on Aug. 20. He missed the Texans' final two preseason games, but says he passed the league protocols for head injuries in just over a week and will play Sunday.

The Texans have plenty of question marks on offense. They traded quarterback Matt Schaub to Oakland and handed the reigns to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will be starting for his third team in as many seasons.

"I think being in the league and having to do it multiple times has made it easier for me in terms of being able to step in here," Fitzpatrick said.

The health of running back Arian Foster also may be an issue after he missed eight games last season with a back injury that forced him to have surgery. Foster, who averaged 1,421 yards over his previous three seasons, said he's ready to go Sunday.

"I'm wonderful, physically," said Foster, who sat out all four preseason games. "I'm excited about that. I can't wait to play football."

It seemed during the offseason that leading receiver Andre Johnson might be playing football elsewhere. He grew frustrated after the Texans' dismal season and expressed a desire to be traded, but he didn't hold out and reported to camp on time.

Johnson should be a valuable target for Fitzpatrick, who will be backed up by Ryan Mallet after he was acquired from New England last week.

These teams haven't met since Houston's 30-27 overtime victory at Washington in 2010.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/06/2014 07:39 PM

It’s a waiting game for linebacker Brian Orakpo (ankle) and the Redskins, who have already ruled out cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) and linebacker Akeem Jordan (knee). Tight end Jordan Reed (thumb) is also questionable. Tight end Garrett Graham (back) will be a game-time decision for the Texans and safety Shiloh Keo (calf) is also questionable. Texans coach Bill O’Brien listed 11 players as probable, perhaps as a nod to his mentor Bill Belichick.