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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

Losing the first game of the season never feels good, but despite the loss, there were positives to point to from the Texans contest.

Thomas B. Shea

1. I've got good news and I've got great news. The good news is that we are halfway to a 1-1 start out of the gate. We took the hard loss yesterday, leaving the home opener available to take the season's first win. The great news is that when Week 1 is officially in the books, the Redskins will be tied for the second best record in the entire NFL.

2. In the Hogs Haven Pregame Show (turn your televisions down and listen to us before the game), I suggested that our team could be handled by a good defensive line. It was more of a comment on recent iterations of our team, and the manner in which our offensive line has...evolved. I wasn't predicting that these guys would get worked by Houston, but anyone who sleeps on J.J. Watt is an idiot. (I am an idiot for plenty of other reasons.) Did anyone notice when they showed slow motion replays of J.J. Watt attacking various players along our line that our linemen seemed to be getting thrown backwards at regular speed. I mean, it was like one of those freaking "most powerful fan in the world" commercials, where J.J. Watt flicked his arms out and our guys went flying. I didn't notice that happening to Trent, to be fair, but I did see Shawn Lauvao get catapulted into our backfield.

3. It would be somewhat unfair to say that yesterday's performance was EXACTLY the same as the ones we became used to witnessing a year ago (though it was somewhat nostalgic to see Baccari Rambo whiff on a touchdown-saving tackle). Granted, the soreness in my loins from the repeated shots to the ol' beanbag feels the same as it did in 2013, but there were things that happened in that game yesterday that we can point to and call "growth." On special teams, aside from the blocked extra point and blocked punt for a touchdown (SERENITY NOW!), our kick coverage was worlds better than last year, and Andre Roberts provided a spark as a return man. Tress Way looked like a Hall of Fame punter out there at times. I like having a lefty punter, mostly because Bill Belichick likes having lefty punters. He believes it comes off the foot just different enough from a righty to mess with the mind of the returner. On defense, I find myself extremely encouraged by a group that was only responsible for allowing 10 points. Our front seven was generally pretty strong. We forced punts on short yardage third downs, and we seemed to get into the backfield regularly. You don't like to see DeAngelo Hall take an unsportsmanlike penalty, but at the same time, I was feeling his frustration. Given we lost, it is not really the time to heap praise on anyone, but I just really thought the defense played hard...certainly well enough to win.

4. On offense, I was shocked, and I have little excuse to be shocked. We did not look great in the preseason and that carried right on through to the Houston game. I boldly predicted that we would score 30 or more points based on the weapons we have...but instead of the lethal arsenal I expected, it seemed more like we were using squirt guns and Nerf blasters. Get ready to hear people suggest that Robert Griffin III played the best game he is capable of playing. He really seemed to make a concerted effort to play from the pocket, and has the bumps and bruises to back that up. I find it slightly ironic that our plan to extend his career and limit the hits he takes involves him taking as much of a beating or worse than if he were to scramble more. Speaking of, when he did get outside of the pocket, he was far less elusive than I remember him being in 2013. This could be because he was legitimately "running to throw" and therefore, he wasn't bee-lining upfield. All in all, I can't give Griffin a very good grade, because so much of being a quarterback in the league is about winning, but he shouldn't be saddled with this loss. I don't think this is the best he is capable of playing. In fact, I think it is clear that there is plenty of upside in his game. The pass to Niles Paul that was caught in stride before Paul fumbled it inside the red zone was awesome. Those two red zone turnovers were simply unforgivable. If anything makes me feel like I am trapped in the past, it would be those kinds of bonehead mistakes. Both drives were solid and deserving of points, but this we have seen before. This we have discussed before.

5. I would have liked to have seen us be slightly more aggressive at the end of the first half. We had a timeout in our pocket and if we could have somehow found a way to get a field goal attempt before the final whistle there, I can't help but think we could have changed our fortunes. My guess is that Jay Gruden didn't think his short passing gameplan fit well in that situation, and he wasn't prepared to gamble with Griffin's life by having him drop back and throw into deep coverage. I can get over this, but it did not sit right. There seemed to be enough time to at least try for something, and the game was shaping up to be extremely close, meaning a field goal could have been huge.

6. It was therapeutic to watch the action yesterday afternoon and evening. Plenty of teams that thought they at least had a chance to win took losses. In fact, half of the entire league is sitting on the same one loss we are heading into the second week. It might feel like Groundhog Day to so many of you out there, but that's just because things look, feel, sound and taste the exact same today as they did after most weeks last season (wait...crap, that is kind of the exact definition of Groundhog Day). A season is not destroyed after an opening week loss. The Redskins get to come home this week and even their record against a Jacksonville squad that is also struggling. Don't fool yourself into believing that the Jaguars can't beat the Redskins--they CAN. It says here that the Jaguars don't have the same kind of talent on defense that Houston does. It says here that the Jaguars won't get off to the same quick start against us as they did against Philly. It says here that we will be enjoying our first victory in quite some time exactly one week from now.