Washington Redskins vs. Houston Texans: What To Look For


The NFL season has kicked off and it’s one day — and counting — before the Houston Texans get the opportunity to start theirs.

Although any person with reasonable expectations would understand that they’ll not win a Super Bowl this year, there will still be marked improvement over last season’s 2-14 performance.

As grand as it always is to kickoff the season at home, the Texans will be getting to work in their strive toward a successful season.

There many needs that were addressed on the roster that were taking care of either via the draft or free agency.

Let’s hope that the investments that were made for those needs pay off.

There are still some alarming holes at some positions on the football field, most notably the offensive line but we’re about to see how good Bill O’Brien is as a master of disguise of plugging them up.

However, I feel the future is bright for this team and it won’t take them that long to get back to where they were in 2012.

As you get ready to head to NRG Stadium for the festivities or take in the big game at home around the people you love, here’s some things to look for position-wise:

QUARTERBACKRyan Fitzpatrick is our starter, for now.  Currently, he’s the best option available and he will be the anchor to the offense.  Earlier this week, the Houston Texans acquired Ryan Mallett from the New England Patriots so depending how far along Mallett develops will dictate when he will be inserted into the lineup.  I just have a good feeling that Fitz is tired of the criticisms he gets about his quarterback play and will have a chip on his shoulder when he starts.  I’m hopeful that he has the best season of his career since 2011, where he passed for nearly 4,000 yards.  He’s got to work on his touchdown-to-interception ratio which was been nearly 1:1 for most of his time in the pros.  Robert Griffin III will be in town and is as healthy as can be for this game.  He is still adjusting to becoming more of a pocket-passer versus utilizing his proficient tuck-and-run mentality.  It was that same mentality that got him hurt in the first place.  And it shows on the stat sheet — he had more than 800 yards rushing in his rookie and last year’s total was nearly half that.  Griffin has not passed for a touchdown since Dec. 8, 2013 and I’m sure fans are letting him hear that.  Kirk Cousins will likely be the most talked about backup QB this season, especially if Griffin struggles.  But Griffin has the keys to the franchise and he is there to stay.

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RUNNING BACKArian Foster is back but for how long?  A segment of Bill O’Brien’s offensive schemes requires heavy use of the running back so expect Foster to get a lot of touches this game.  He hasn’t been active since Week 8 of last year, so there will be some rust that will have to be knocked off.  The ‘Skins will have fits trying to stop him, so let’s hope that the o-line blocks well enough to help.  This year will also be the emergence of rookie Alfred Blue, who made impressive strides this past preseason.  Jonathan Grimes and Ronnie Brown will be available but this year is all for Blue for taking if he performs well when called upon.

Aug 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (80) runs to his scrimmage line point in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

WIDE RECEIVER:  Andre Johnson, Employee No. 80, will be suiting up for duty for the 12th straight season.  After a brief standoff before the start of the training camp, Johnson showed up to work but still made it clear that he wants to have the final year of his contract guaranteed.  He will shine and get that opportunity.  He had 109 receptions for 1,409 yards last season.  He hasn’t lost a step and I expect his numbers to be at or higher than that this year.  It all depends on if Fitz can get him the ball enough.  It will also be good to see DeAndre Hopkins, Johnson’s likely successor and apprentice at the position.  He has looked quite good since he has been here and it will be a treat to continue to watch him grow.

Aug 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) tackles Atlanta Falcons running back Antone Smith (35) at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

DEFENSE (FRONT 7):  The story here is pairing of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on the line this season.  Both have similar characteristics as far as their high-level of play on the football field and offenses league-wide will have swiveling heads wondering where the heck these two guys are at all times.  In most cases, it will be too late once they figure out and they’ll be on their back looking up, trying to figure out what just happened to them.  It will be a gem to see Watt’s signature salute after each sack that he gets this season.  He finally has some significant help in Clowney and that’s always a plus.  And Brian Cushing is back!  He’s another solid weapon on the line that will make them as mighty as they have been, even better.  Teams are going to have a tough time trying to run the ball against this line or shall I refer to it as Fort Knox?  These guys can pass rush too, what can’t they do?

CORNER BACK:  The timing of the return of Danieal Manning couldn’t have been any sweeter.  It was tough to see him go but money talks and….uh….you know the rest.  Manning got cut by the Cincinnati Bengals; and, before you know it, he was on a plane back to H-Town as he never left.  He still is effective covering the pass but I really liked when he was used in kickoff returns last year.  They really did see some gains when he was in there.  But with Keshawn Martin supposedly worked on that in the offseason, so it remains to be seen if Manning will be used there.  But it’s a thought though. Kareem Jackson showed tremendous improvement from last season and was one of the bright spots last year.  His numbers were near his 2010 rookie season, his best on record.

Dec 5, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Houston Texans strong safety D.J. Swearinger (36) takes down Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) in the third quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

  • It will be great to see D.J. Swearinger knocking people around out left-and-right while backing up his trash talk.  Gary Kubiak was not too much a fan of it but O’Brien seems to embrace it.  I still remember when he was pulled back in December of last year against the Jags because of it.
  • I also hope that Derek Newton is ready to protect and block like he should be doing.  Now’s not the time for him to do his best impression of Chevy Chase from Memoirs of an Invisible Man.

There’s lots of things to look for but what I want to see the most is a win.  The last time they won during the season was around this time last year.

It will happen.

There just no way we could repeat a season like that again.

Anyway, kickoff will be at NRG Stadium with a set time of noon CDT.  The game will be televised on FOX and broadcast on 610 SportsRadio AM / 100.3 (KILT).

Go Texans!