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Grade the Redskins Loss to the Texans

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Let's put a grade on this thing.

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Bob Levey

The Redskins lost a heart-breaker to the Texans in week one and we all know that winning is all that matters.  Still, when really looking at the game, there are obviously a lot of positives and negatives, regardless of the end result.  So I'm curious to know what the HH community thinks about the loss.  In my opinion, not all losses are created equally.  I'll break down my opinion here, then you can give your grade and opinion in the comments.

Pros:

QB Play

This has been the #1 topic of discussion basically since kickoff.  It's crazy to me that the Redskins could lose a game like they did against the Texans and the top thing Redskins fans want to do is argue about whether RGIII was good or not.  I have news for everyone, RGIII was not why the Redskins lost.  In fact, it's way down the list.  I'm putting his play in the "pros" category because overall, I liked what I saw.  I saw a QB that slid rather than taking an unnecessary hit.  I saw a QB have a ridiculously high completion percentage.  I saw a QB that didn't throw a single INT and racked up 276 yards behind a terrible pass protecting OL (more on that further down).  I saw a QB that showed maturity and growth in the post-game presser.  Basically, RGIII did about as good as could be expected in the situation.  He threw the ball away, managed the game, completed passes, executed the game-plan, and played mostly mistake free football.  Sure, maybe he could have thrown the ball to Andre Roberts a little earlier.  Yeah, he probably shouldn't have tried that hand-off to Morris while falling.  Still, that stuff is split-second decision making and nobody is perfect.  Neither error was completely egregious and I thought RGIII showed growth and improvement.  He at least tried to stay in the pocket and tried to throw the ball without just tucking and running.  It's a developmental process and I think Robert was very good for step one.  I'll be looking for improvement each week.

Running Game

This should be hugely obvious to everyone.  Alfred Morris went off.  Roy Helu went off.  DY had a TD!  The OL actually looks good on run plays!  It's our bread-and-butter, hands down.  The only disappointing thing about it is that we didn't use it more.  91 yards on 14 carries is phenomenal (Morris)!  So is 46 on four carries (Helu).  The stretch zone runs are a thing of beauty on this team and our athletic OL actually executes very well.  It's a great way to negate the pass rush and help RGIII in the pass game.  We simply must use it more moving forward and I believe Jay will.  This was his first game as HC and the balance was decent outside of two-minute action.

Return Game

Andre Roberts had a good game.  If Reed is going to miss some time, I expect to see him become even more involved in the offense.  He averaged 28 yards per KO return and 18 per punt return (which would have been even more if not for the whole DY collision/debacle).  That's crazy good.  Special Teams had a lot to do with the loss obviously, but the return game is something positive to build on for the rest of the year and this offense will be greatly helped by improved starting field position.

Punting

Tress Way is the truth.  His punts were great.  Deep and good hang-time.  Special Teams wasn't all bad.

Defense

Yep, that's right, the entire defense.  When you give up 10 points as a defense, your team should win.  They have very little fault in the loss.  Aside from one bad play (the Hopkins TD) and not being able to get the ball back at the end of the game, they were perfect.  Jason Hatcher was a beast, Ryan Kerrigan was a beast, and Keenan RobinsonRyan Clark, and DeAngelo Hall all played good games.  Even Rambo wasn't as bad as everyone will remember.

Cons:

Pass Protection

It's been talked about ad nauseam and I'm an optimist, so I don't really like to harp, but the OL has been a problem for a while and is not off to a good start this year.  I'm strictly talking about pass protection, though.  They were excellent in the run game and don't receive nearly enough credit for it.  For every time they get pushed back into RGIII's lap they're also able to open up some pretty monster lanes for Alfred.  However, we're in trouble if they can't stop the pass rush and RGIII can't get a clean pocket to pass from.  Obviously, Watt had his way this game and Clowney didn't even play the whole game.  I don't know what can be done about it, but they really need to try something...

Special Teams Kick/Punt Protection

Some of the same people are at fault here, but the ST's mistakes were inexcusable.  Allowing a PAT to be blocked only costs one point, but it is a momentum killer.  Allowing J.J. Watt to push multiple feet back towards Forbath on that play simply can't happen.  He's good, but PAT's need to be automatic.  Maybe that was the problem.  Maybe the guys aren't focused because they're supposed to be so automatic.  I don't know, but Kotwica better be on some people.

The far worse problem was Roy Helu on the punt protection.  Having that punt blocked for a TD might have been the game.  It can't happen.  Ever.  But especially at that spot on the field.  If you can't focus and at least try your hardest every single play on the field, then you need to not be on the field.  I know Helu was tired and had just played, but you've got to get a hand on the guy.  At the very worst make him run you over.  But he can't get past and then you turn around and watch.  Can.  Not.  Happen.  That play killed us and if it happens again this season, someone probably needs to lose a job.

Playcalling

I don't want to criticize Jay too much because I like him... a lot.  The guy is a breath of fresh air and it was his first game as HC.  I believe he'll be a good one and believe he'll get this thing turned around.  Still, when your team is running that well, you absolutely have to keep running it.  The Texans could not stop our running game at all.  Morris was on fire.  Helu was blowing by people.  DY actually converted a power run with our weak OL for a TD.  Everything was going our way in the ground game.  I understand two-minute calls for more passes, but there has to be more than 18 rushing attempts from Morris and Helu.  Has to.  Every game.  No matter what.  We have to know our strengths and weaknesses.  RB's and zone running are a strength and OL/pass protection is a weakness.  Play to the strengths.  I believe this will be corrected for Jacksonville.

Turnovers

Niles Paul has to hold on to the ball.  That's all.  I'm not that mad about the RGIII-Morris hand-off because I feel that was unlucky, unlikely, and can be fixed.  But Niles Paul has to hold on to the ball.  When you get open with the ball, you have to look behind you and wrap up the ball with two hands.  He will from now on.

Final Grade: D

I want to go higher, I really do.  I'm an optimist and I really don't think the game was all that bad.  For the most part, aside from some critical mistakes, we outplayed Houston.  But we lost.  That's what matters.  The turnovers are a killer.  Having punts and kicks blocked are a killer.  I believe this team will get better.  It's a new HC.  A new offense.  A new (basically) QB.  We were 3-13 last year and we were right there.  We were on the road and Houston is underrated.  We have to correct the turnovers and the pass protection.  We have to find a way to get some deeper pass plays and we have to run the ball much much more.  Here's to 1-1.  What do you think?

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