Kickoff is this Sunday at 1:00 PM Eastern. As always, the game can be heard free-of-charge on Triple X Radio. The game will be broadcast on Fox in the DC area as well as Southeast Texas. Check out this useful broadcast map to see what games will be showing in your area.
I'm not going to discuss the Texans much, as faithful reader TexSkins did so below. Sporting News has an extremely brief positional matchups breakdown as well.
Your Washington Redskins:
Offense -- The greatest news? Clinton Portis is back. He's listed as the starter on the official projected starters page. We've been a team without a starting running back through two weeks of football and that is one reason why we are also a winless team. That said, I think it was clear that the Redskins were missing more than just one player. The play calling has been suspect at times, Brunell has been unreliable and inaccurate. Even when he is getting the ball to receivers, he typically passes to the wrong ones; especially on third down.
What Clinton Portis does bring is that anything can happen when he has the ball breakthrough ability. Ladell Betts is (possibly) a serviceable backup, but I didn't hold my breath when he got the football. I expected him to get us 3-5 yards closer to a first down. CP has the ability to turn a short run into a long one, especially having trimmed down in the offseason. I still think Al Saunders is an offensive genius, though my faith is beginning to ebb. Having said that, I do like the way he sets up running plays. It's not a between the tackles philosophy. I've always felt that pitches and tosses were high risk/high reward in the NFL, and with that they add a bit of excitement. Getting CP out in the open field is always exciting.
Let's hope that works out.
Portis is the only offensive player on the official injury report though he will play. The Redskins are essentially 100%, which means there are no excuses, particularly since the Houston Texans are quite literally the worst defense in the league. Just how bad are they, you ask? They've given up over 3 times as many yards per game as the first ranked Baltimore defense.
It's been argued by me that Mark Brunell may not be the answer is DC. For the Redskins this is a do-or-die football game because it's against a weak opponent and a loss puts us well into panic mode at 0-3. For Brunell, who has done nothing thus far this season to distinguish himself as a contender QB in the NFL, it is even moreso. 0-3 teams are approaching "Rebuilding season" status at dangerous speeds. Even if Brunell ultimately manages to remain the Quarterback of Today, there's no doubt about who the Quarterback of Tomorrow is.
The line needs to improve but I won't bore you with tired platitudes and cliches about what they specifically need to do. They need to push the guys in front of them. Period. I'll be watching Defensive End and number one draft pick Mario Williams and how well the Skins can pick him up. Williams is beginning to smell like a bust, though I'll have to see it to believe it.
Backfield? Check. Line? Check. QB? Er... check. What does that leave? Receivers.
Tight End Chris Cooley is currently the lowest rated Tight End in the entire league according to Football Outsiders. Somehow lower than Carolina's Michael Gaines, who has yet to catch a pass this season. Cooley, on the other hand, has caught a dismal 23% of this passes thus far. Those numbers cannot get any worse.
None of the receivers have truly stepped up yet. Santana Moss still looks like a stud, but he is at his best when the ball is thrown down the field and... the ball has not been thrown down the field. Some of the blame goes on the receivers for dropping the ball, though some of that rests on Brunell as well. We should remember that it's impossible to have a receiving touchdown without a passing touchdown, a feat that is apparently just too much for the 2006 Redskins through 2 games. But throwing an interception to Roy Williams on the 1 yard line is like throwing a touchdown, right?
The Houston defense is dismal, so hopefully the Redskins can go out there and make Saunders look like a genius. I'll still view our preformances against Dallas and Minnesota as more indicative of how the offense has played, but perhaps an impressive outing against the Texans is just what the offense needs to start clicking. Then again, if the Redskins go out and stink it up offensively there will be little doubt about the state of this team.
Defense -- Though the offense be healthy the defense be not. Shawn Springs is still out and probably won't return for two more weeks. Our secondary is struggling and has given up the big plays. Kenny Wright and Mike Rumph are not reliable backup cornerbacks, though I think Wright has outplayed Rumph. Carlos Rogers is a great CB and has a promising career, though I think he's looked a bit outmatched as the number 1 guy.
Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a is questionable with a calf injury and should be a game time decision. Behind him is Rookie 6th round draft pick Kedric Golston. Our line hasn't gotten much push with Salave'a, so let's hope the gametime decision is that he actually plays. Defensive End Andre Carter could really make me eat my foot by having a huge game. And nothing would please me more than to be totally and completely wrong about calling him a waste of money.
The linebackers have been fine and preformed better than either the line or secondary. Marcus Washington and Lemar Marshall are beasts, though I've been more intrigued by the starting position battle between weak side linebacker Warrick Holdman and 2nd round draft pick Rocky McIntosh. Holdman is still listed as the official starter, which surprises me as I had hopes of McIntosh earning the position by this point in time. To his credit, Holdman has played respectfully thus far. McIntosh is still seeing a good amount of playing time, as Gregg Williams likes to throw in a number of different personnel packages to keep guys fresh and to maximize individual talents. I'd be perfectly content with a Weak Side Linebacking By Committee system that plays to McIntosh's and Holdman's respective strengths. Who the "official" starter is considerably less important to me than how the people on the field actually preform.
That just about covers it. Let me know what I missed or what your predictions are for the game. I've got the Redskins winning but I'm not calling out a score as that's proven bad luck thus far.
As I'm still in the middle of a move, I have not yet picked up the Satellite TV. Right now I'm trying to find both the time and the money to do so and I'm just about this close to giving up one of my kidneys for NFL Season Ticket. That said I will have a gameday thread up and will try my best to post in it frequently. I may be drunk at a bar, so I might be quiet until halftime and/or the end of the game, but the thread should be up and running sometime tomorrow morning.
Cheers and HTTR. Please beat Houston.