December 9, 2019

Washington Redskins Week 1 Recap: Frustrating season-opening loss to Houston Texans

The Washington Redskins lost their season opener against the Houston Texans, 17-6, with an extremely frustrating performance with several missed opportunities. Despite new coach Jay Gruden calling the shots, things looked exactly the same as Mike Shanahan’s team in 2013, when the special teams were atrocious, the offense turned the ball over, and Robert Griffin ended up on his back every other play.

The defense played well against a mediocre Texans offense early, but whether they got tired or lost focus, they could not get the critical stops at the end of the game. The Redskins lost their edge on the defensive side of the ball when Bacarri Rambo got turned around in coverage allowing DeAndre Hopkins to score on a 76-yard catch-and-run.

The defense gave up three third-down conversions that ended in a Randy Bullock game ending 42-yard field goal to increase the lead to 11 with 1:55 left in the game. That drive chewed up six and a half minutes of the fourth quarter and ended all hope of Griffin leading a fourth quarter game tying drive. David Amerson was getting picked on when he covered Andre Johnson and the repeated missed tackles against Arian Foster did not help the cause.

The statistics on offense looked good on paper, but it was a different story on film. Griffin finished with 267 yards passing on 29 completed passes on 37 attempts for a solid 96.7 QBR. On the ground, Alfred Morris had a solid day with 14 rushes for 91 yards,  complemented by Roy Helu’s 46 yards on four carries and Darrel Young’s one-yard touchdown run.

It was disappointing that with all the success on the ground, they shied away from the run throughout the game when it had constant success. Griffin, as a result, drop backed to pass roughly 40 times. Although he was only sacked three times for 26 yards, each came at key moments to stall drives. Moreover, Griffin took punishment nearly every play and even was slow to get up after one hit from J.J. Watt.

The recently-paid Watt was a monster that the Redskins had no answer for. He ended the game with a sack, pass deflection, fumble recovery, solo tackle to stop Alfred Morris on a third down and one run, and blocked PAT. Even beyond these assortments of great plays, Watt had an impact on nearly every game with pressure that exposed the poor quality of the offensive line and Tyler Polumbus.

What is more disappointing is that he did the majority of his damage without his battering mate, Jadeveon Clowney, who left during the middle of a game with a knee injury. Another key Texan that made life miserable for the Redskins was Brooks Reed, who seemed to always have Griffin’s number when he would try to bootleg to the other side of the field.

Beyond all of this, the game came down to two Redskins fumbles inside the Texans 10-yard line. The first was credited to Griffin after he got his foot tangled with Kory Lichtensteiger and bobbled the ball. Instead of just falling on the ball to live another play, Griffin tried to hand the ball off to Alfred Morris, who could not control the hand off and the ball was free on the ground for Watt.

The second instance came when Griffin threw a beautiful touch pass to Niles Paul over the middle of the field and Paul was able to break free. As Paul was streaking towards the end zone, the ball was knocked free by D.J. Swearinger and the possible touchdown opportunity turned into the Texans taking over without giving up a point.

Another offensive miscue that cost the Redskins point was when Griffin took a 12-yard sack from Brooks Reed to end a strong drive that could have ended in a field goal opportunity if he had not taken the loss. Perhaps the biggest miscue of the game was Helu missing a blocking assignment on a punt that allowed Alfred Blue to block Tress Way’s punt and return it for a touchdown.

On the injury side of things, Jordan Reed left the game with a hamstring injury and Barry Cofield exited early because of a high ankle sprain that has put him in a walking boot. Both injuries are huge as they might lead to significant playing time lost. In terms of this game, Reed might have helped Griffin as a safety valve when he was trying to escape pressure and the ball that Paul fumbled might have been a pass to Reed instead.

The Washington Redskins will return home and play the Jacksonville Jaguars, who blew a 17-0 lead against the Philadelphia Eagles, next week. Coach Gruden has an infinite number of things to work on during practice and Redskins fans have to hope things will start looking better soon.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

Comments

  1. Great article 10/10 would read again.

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