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Ryan Kerrigan had four sacks on Sunday in the Redskins dominating win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He leads the NFL in that category and the Redskins are very likely to be the number one ranked defense in the league after Monday Night Football between the Eagles and Colts.
Tonight, Kerrigan is doing something just as important.
"I'm excited for my charity event tonight. It will be a good time," Kerrigan told me Monday morning in the Redskins locker room. "It's at Ruth's Chris in Arlington. 6:30. My teammates and I will be serving dinner to all the folks attending."
This particular event has a special meaning to me because I have a special needs child. Kerrigan said "all the proceeds will go to my foundation, the "Blitz for the Better" Foundation, which benefits family members of children with special needs, that are physically challenged in the area. It's a really great event. It's a really good time, so come on out."
Tickets are available at the door or you can go online, all the way up until the doors open at Ryan Kerrigan.org.
Kerrigan will also be on ESPN 980 tomorrow at 2:30 PM as he has been for his entire career. Not a bad week to have him on the radio and it is a good way to celebrate with him
tonight for a great cause.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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The Redskins hammered the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home opener 41-10 in front of a jacked up crowd of 80 thousand plus.
The bad news was on the injury front. Washington lost Robert Griffin III to a dislocated ankle. The ankle could possibly have a fracture and almost certainly has torn ligaments, according to Dr. David Chao, a former team physician for nearly 20 years.
DeSean Jackson also has a sprain of the AC joint in his shoulder or a dislocated joint. His status for the Redskins next game against his former team in Philadelphia next Sunday is uncertain at best.
Jackson did not seem very optimistic on Sunday afternoon but did say it was feeling better after the win.
Darrel Young, Roy Helu and Shawn Lauvao all were banged up during the win but should be OK moving forward.
Here are three things that stood out to me
1. Ten Sacks: Let's start with the Jaguars offensive line which absolutely stinks. The Redskins tied a franchise record with this mark and feasted from the opening series. Ryan Kerrigan had four sacks and abused Jacksonville's right tackle Cameron Bradfield again and again. Kerrigan had sacks on consecutive plays in the third quarter.
Perry Riley was tremendous as well with 1.5 sacks. Jason Hatcher had the same and was in the Jaguars backfield seemingly all day. Chris Baker only had three tackles, but had one sack taken away because of a penalty on Jarvis Jenkins for illegal use of the hands. If you like football and appreciate terrific defensive line play, Chris Baker was dominant. Like Hatcher, it seemed like Baker was visiting Chad Henne and friends for lunch quite often.
Frank Kearse also stood out. He had a sack of his own and also had a hand on Henne's shoulder during one of Kerrigan's sack as he blew up the middle of the line of scrimmage.
Many scoffed at our "Summer Series - How do the Redskins get Better? column on the team shooting for 50 sacks, but they are one fifth of the way there through one-eighth of their season.
2. Bacarri Rambo still stinks when the bullets fly for real. He got badly beat because he gambled in cover two and took the wrong angle while trying to intercept Henne and instead giving up a 63-yard touchdown to Marcedes Lewis.
Raheem Morris was visibly upset as were some of his teammates. Rambo said he got caught napping in Houston as he was watching Ryan Fitzpatrick's eyes on the long DeAndre Hopkins touchdown catch and run. It seemed like on Sunday that he misjudged the throw or route and it was a lost cause. I supposed it did not help that DeAngelo Hall lost his footing, but it appeared that Hall was passing Lewis off to Rambo to start.
Trenton Robinson started the 2nd half in place of Rambo, and came up with an interception on a similar looking cover two design. Later, Robinson did get turned around and beat down the middle of the field on a long ball.
Brandon Meriweather is eligible to return to the Redskins 53-man roster on Monday and once again will be able to practice and play. The question is this: Who do the Redkskins release to make room for Meriweather.
I have no problem thinking that Rambo would clear waivers and could find himself a new home or possibly end up on practice squad.
3. The Redskins had 449 net yards of offense compared to cool 148 for the Jaguars. In two games, the Redskins have allowed 464 net yards of offense or an average of 232 per game. Washington still has not allowed a first quarter point in their last six games, including the preseason.
Yet 99.5 percent of you wanted to fire Jim Haslett. That's a shame. Out.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars are at FedExField to take on the Washington Redskins in the home opener at 1 PM.
Listen to all-day coverage from Landover beginning at 9 AM Sunday morning on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM, ESPN980.com & Audio Now (832) 999-1980.
With that as our scene-setter, let's go "Inside the Numbers" for this must-win game for the Redskins.
Yes, I said must-win. Jacksonville and Houston are much improved but you still can not go (0-2) against the so-called soft part of your schedule and against teams that were a combined (6-26) last year. Then again...
We have this twisted notion in Washington DC that the Redskins are better than they actually are.
They aren't until they prove they are. As much as it would make life a lot more enjoyable for all of us if they win consistently - the Redskins really just need one win in a game that counts first and that should be all that they are focused on.
The Redskins lost their last eight regular season games last year and despite a (3-1) preseason record, they have lost NINE regular season games in a row and it has been 313 full days (including today) since they have won a game that mattered.
In case you are wondering, 255 days in 2014 along with the 58 days in 2013 is how we got to that number, since a overtime win on November 3rd against San Diego.
FedExField has not been a home-field advantage in any way for Washington. It needs to be. In my five plus years covering the Redskins, at FedExField, they are (2-6) in 2013, (5-4) in 2012, (2-6) in 2011, (2-6) in 2010, (3-5) in 2009.
The Redskins are (14-27) including their playoff loss to Seattle at home since 2009. Overall, a combined (28-54) in my five plus years including playoffs.
What perhaps is worse is this trend against teams on long losing streaks, which continued in Houston last week as Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post wrote about.
The bottom line is this. A win on Sunday is a must-have for so many reasons. They would be (0-2) heading into Philadelphia and while plenty of teams have overcome a bad start, including Carolina last year, this team is not good enough to have to climb the mountain from the very bottom.
Carolina opened (0-2) and (1-3) but their defense was terrific and the offense was very efficient. Not to mention how solid they were on special teams.
Consider this via Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News,"since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, just 23 of 196 teams that started 0-2 (11.7 percent) went on to make the playoffs.”
The only positive and this is really stretching it is that if the Redskins lose to Jaguars Sunday, both losses would have come not only outside of the division but outside of the conference. Those are the games that do not hurt you as bad.
I know. Nobody wants to hear all of this, but a win on Sunday would go a long way to breaking the ice.
II. Home is where the heart is. At least for one game.
Want some good trends? The Redskins have won nine of their last 12 home openers since 2002 and overall are 47-32-3 all time as a franchise. They're also 29-15 in home openers since the 1970 merger.
Of course, they also lost their last home debut last year against Philadelphia.
The Redskins all time are (4-1) against the Jaguars. For a quick, hidden trivia question, what rare occurrence took place the last time the Redskins played the Jaguars?
The last time the Jaguars played at FedEx was certainly memorable, a 36-30 overtime win by the Redskins. Washington has won two straight in overtime against Jacksonville.
III. A hard to fathom trend.
The Redskins have a history of some (Ric) flair during home openers, despite last year's loss to Philadelphia.
In that game, Ryan Kerrigan forced a fumble and DeAngelo Hall scooped it up and ran it all the way back for a touchdown.
In their 2012 home opener against Jay Gruden and the Bengals, Rob Jackson came away with an interception for a touchdown.
In 2011, Kerrigan batted and then intercepted a pass from Eli Manning for a touchdown in his NFL debut.
In 2010, DeAngelo Hall scooped up a fumble return from former Cowboys running back Tashard Choice for a touchdown.
That's four straight home openers that the Redskins defense has scored a touchdown. Will they have a fifth in a row?
IV. Pierre on a great pace.
Pierre Garcon just keeps on trucking. He led the Redskins in receptions last year at 113, breaking Art Monk's franchise record.
He already has ten catches (10-77) in the first game of 2014. Perhaps most impressive, Garcon now has 17 games in a row where he has caught at least five passes. Last year, he became the third player in NFL history since the adoption of a 16-game schedule (1978) to have at least five receptions in every game of a season. He joined Jimmy Smith (2001) and Antonio Brown (also in 2013).
One thing the Redskins wide receivers did not do a good job of last week, and it really was the ultimate difference for why the so-called "short" passing game did not work, is break tackles.
Jay Gruden talked all week and really the entire pre-season about getting the ball out of Robert Griffin III's hands and getting the ball in space where skill players could make plays on their own.
Griffin did his part for the most part, but Garcon (10-77 7.7) and DeSean Jackson (8-62, 7.8) did nothing to help the last part of the equation.
I can't say this enough, but you CAN NOT win in this league throwing 40-yard bombs. You have to have people that make defenders miss in space. The Redskins had really none of that.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Texans only missed SIX tackles last Sunday. Three of those missed tackles came from non-starters. That's not good enough.
By contrast, PFF had the Redskins missing nine tackles with five credited to Ryan Clark. Essentially, all nine came against starters even though Bacarri Rambo and E.J. Biggers did not start the game. They were both in very early.
V. Flip 'em to get 'em home.
The Redskins need to find a way to free up Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan even when offenses are trying to dictate by formation.
Orakpo drew a lot of criticism from fans for last week, but of course they are only paying attention to what they see. As for what they are not seeing, John Keim of ESPN.com and ESPN 980 detailed here.
According to PFF, Orakpo had 12 snaps that he was judged to be rushing on and was on the field for 20 passing plays.
Ryan Kerrigan was on the field for 24 passing plays, and rushed 21 times according to ProFootballFocus.com. He had one quarterback pressure. The Redskins need more on Sunday.
Perhaps most important, the Redskins did not really flip sides with Kerrigan and Orakpo as they want to do more of this year.
Orakpo stayed on the right, Kerrigan on the left and Trent Murphy was not in much.
I expect that to change Sunday. Jacksonville's right side of their offensive line is a huge question mark with rookie Brandon Linder at right guard and and Cameron Bradfield at right tackle.
VI. Kicking Kai.
By the midway point of the regular season, Redskins PK Kai Forbath should be the most accurate kicker in Redskins history. Currently, he's made 87.5% of his kicks (35-40). It is the best percentage in Redskins team history of placekickers with at least 40 attempts.
If Forbath makes six of his next ten field goal attempts, he will be (41-50) which is 82%, which would eclipse Shaun Suisham who currently is the franchise's most accurate kicker (80.2%) with a minimum of 50 attempts.
Final Prediction: Redskins beat the Jaguars 21-17.
Answer to hidden trivia: It snowed in Jacksonville, Florida on the morning of December 26, 2010 during early pre-game warm ups.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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After watching back most of the television copy of the Redskins loss to the Texans, here are a few of my "Quick Snaps" or fast thoughts on what went wrong and what actually went right for Jay Gruden's team in his regular season debut.
**Bashaud Breeland started at nickel corner on the very first snap from scrimmage for Houston, which was somewhat unexpected. I've talked about Breeland's emergence and filling that role a lot. I just didn't expect it until after E.J. Biggers struggled or after Tracy Porter came back and got hurt/struggled again.
I don't want to go crazy with the fact that Breeland started, because Biggers was in on the 2nd and 3rd snap of the game. I do kind of like it though.
Breeland will make some mistakes (had a horse collar tackle on Andre Johnson late) but he will be a physical force that Biggers is not and has good enough speed.
Honestly I have no idea what to expect out of Tracy Porter. He's been hurt way too much for me to have any legitimate faith.
**Yes the Redskins missed a few tackles here and there, but very early on you could see the 'gang-tackle' mentality and hats to the ball. On Washington's 2nd defensive series, Jason Hatcher peeled off a block to anchor and make a run stop with six or seven Redskins defenders coming in to finish the play.
**Barry Cofield was just dominant early abusing a pretty good center in Chris Myers. Cofield tore into the backfield twice on short third down situations including once on the first series when he blew up a 3rd-and-1 rush attempt by Arian Foster at mid-field.
On the next series, Cofield whipped Myers again and he drew a holding penalty, also on a 3rd-and-1 situation.
This impact would be felt in a positive way and also in a negative way when Cofield had to leave because of a high ankle sprain.
Later on, the Texans converted two 3rd-and-1 situations in the fourth quarter on a quick hit to Andre Johnson and then Foster was able to get enough surge for a first down. Maybe Cofield and the Redskins still come up empty if he is in the game, but maybe not, considering how well he was playing..
Cofield is going to be out for a while and the Redskins are planning on using the short-term injured reserve designation, ESPN 980 has learned. That designation means that he won't be able to return until Washington's bye week.
The good news? Cofield should be super fresh down the stretch and Stephen Bowen should also be a lot fresher because he is not eligible to return until Week 7.
**Watching the television copy back confirmed what I thought I saw when it came to a couple of key strategic issues by the Redskins.
You can't double team on every play and the plan was blown up early by Jordan Reed's departure before the first quarter was over, but the Redskins left Tyler Polumbus in a bad spot against J.J. Watt.
The Redskins had the offense flowing (I suppose) with a couple of quick passes along with a inside trap run that got Washington into decent field position. On 1st-and-10 from the Redskins 36, Jay Gruden decided to pass and leave Polumbus in a vulnerable one-on-one and he was beat by Watt for a sack.
Yes, Griffin could have run away but he is trying to develop from the pocket and part of that is not taking off and running every time he sees or feels pressure. On the play before, Griffin was belted on a blitz from the secondary just after throwing a pass that was completed.
Late in the game, Watt also had a pass knockdown. Again, Polumbus was on his own. On an earlier sack by Brooks Reed, the Texans pressured with six and had
Reed isolated on Polumbus with DJ Swearinger coming off the opposite side. Roy Helu tried to pick up the blitz and got beat. Griffin saw that and scampered right into Reed who had finally got around Polumbus. This was a 3rd-and-3 at the Texans 33-yard line and would have been a long field goal attempt but it was a possible loss of three points.
**Anybody that says Robert Griffin III did not make progress on Sunday wasn't watching the same game I was. Was he great? No. Does he have a long way to go? Yes. Did he do anything special? No.
However, his throw to Niles Paul for 48 yards down the middle of the field in stride was perfect. He also led Andre Roberts on a 22 yard grab and run over the middle of the field. The ball was thrown well out in front of Roberts and maybe was slightly off by a hair, but not every throw is perfect. It was a nice grab by Roberts.
One play after the sack by Watt in the fourth quarter, Griffin threw a 17-yard seed to DeSean Jackson on 2nd-and-16 in stride for a first down. On the Redskins final drive of the game, Griffin hit Niles Paul perfectly in stride again on a crossing route. It was a 19-yard gain.
You certainly need more than just progress, but at least you had some plays that made me feel better about where he's going.
There were many other areas where Griffin efficiently got rid of the football which was progress from last year.
In the fourth quarter, Griffin scanned to his left and came back to his right and found Logan Paulsen who was his check-down/safety valve. On the last play of the game, Griffin was under siege by Houston's rush and scampered away to dump the ball off to Roy Helu. I believe that would have been a sack last year.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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Welcome to NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Washington Redskins are kicking off their 2014 regular season against the Texans who were (2-14) last year. The Redskins of course were (3-13).
Inactives today for the Redskins are Colt McCoy, Frank Kearse, Akeem Jordan, Tracy Porter, Spencer Long, Morgan Moses and of course the big name is Santana Moss who we reported earlier on ESPN 980 & Redskins Radio would be inactive.
According to Zac Boyer of the Washington Times, it is the first time Moss has been a healthy inactive with the Redskins.
In case you missed it, here is our season preview for the defense and special teams http://www.espn980.com/includes/blog/index.php?action=blog&blog_id=8&post_id=19811
Here is the unit preview of the Redskins offense.
Also, for a statistical preview of what to expect today, we go "Inside the Numbers" with a focus on Jay Gruden, J.J. Watt and why to feel confident about the Redskins in the red zone.
**On the Texans first drive...they appeared to target Andre Johnson primarily as expected with DeAngelo Hall in coverage. Barry Cofield blew apart a 3rd-and-1 to force a punt and Bashaud Breeland started at nickel slot.
**The Redskins ripped off nine yards on first down to Alfred Morris on a zone stretch left and then spent a timeout on 3rd-and-1 only to come out and get blown up by J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed on the short yardage run.
**Once again, the Redskins defense standing tall on Houston's next series, as Barry Cofield continues to blow into the backfield. Smart move by Jay Gruden to decline the holding penalty and force a 4th/short situation on the Texans side of the field. He smartly gambled and won. Houston punted.
**The Redskins offense takes a negatve play on a sack off a play action boot to Griffin's left, he was blown up. Then on 3rd-and-13, DJ Swearinger blew up DeSean Jackson on a bubble screen.
**Once again the Redskins defense holds, but the offense comes up short. Robert Griffin III hit a long crossing diagonal pass to Andre Roberts but he was late by a half second and out-of-bounds. Jay Gruden challenged it, which I thought was a good challenge based on replay and the call on the field stood up. That's the Redskins 2nd timeout of the half and they burned a challenge.
**Washington's defense again comes up big with Jarvis Jenkins and Chris Baker blowing up a run and Keenan Robinson on a blitz forced an incompletion.
**The Redskins finally got their offense going a bit on the next drive, but it came with a cost. Jordan Reed was dumped near the REdskins sideline and hurt his hamstring. He's still tryinig to walk it off behind the Redskins bench. Griffin hit DeSean Jackson and Washington converted on a 3rd-and-5 for Roy Helu on an inside trap. More importantly, you saw the triple bunch cluster I have been constantly talking about. Jay and Sean it perfectly and great job by Helu
The Redskins offense then came up short again, on a 3rd-and-6, Griffin III was sacked for a 2nd time under a six-man pressure. As has been the case, Robert took too long to get rid of the ball with a receiver (I believe Andre Roberts) running open.
**The Redskins defense once again was all over everything (for the most part) ...Jason Hatcher lined up shaded over Chris Myers (C) shoulder and gave a tremendous swim/rip move for the sack.
Andre Roberts with a big 25-yard punt return to set the Redskins up at the mid-field area. Alfred Morris ripped off a 16 yard run and then a 20 yard run off the right to the one. Darrel Young with the one-yard TD as the upback and did a nice job stretching out. Kai Forbath's extra point attempt was blocked by J.J. Watt. The kick appeared low from the start and that could be a very costly point.
Right away, after the Redskins score and missed extra point, DEAndre Hopkins and Ryan Fitzpatrick hook up for a 76-yard touchdown catch and run. Redskins had no pass rush as Jason Hatcher was off on that series, and Bacarri Rambo was completely lost in space on the tackle...7-6 Texans.
***Disaster strinkes the Redskins as they have a double reverse blown up for a big loss and then have to punt, only to see Tress Way's kick blocked by Alfred Blue who blew through the right side of the protection (Roy Helu, Will Compton) and returned it for a touchdown. 14-6 Texans.
**Robert Griffin III is and was doing a much better job getting rid of the ball here near halftime, but was called for an intentional grounding which was a bad call in my eyes. He didn't get the ball back to the line of scrimmage, but he was out of the tackle box. Bad call and Mike Pereira agreed with me from FOX. He used to lead the NFL officiating department.
**The Redskins started the 2nd half with the ball and drove down the field with Griffin operating efficiently in the quick passing game, and then the Redskins may have caught a break by DJ Swearinger driving Robert Griffin into the ground with a legal hit. They called roughing the passer but leading with helmet. May have been announced wrong, but I thought it was a good call. You can't piledrive a QB into ground.
On the next play, Griffin tripped over Kory Lichtensteiger's foot and fumbled the exchange to Alfred Morris for the turnover by Houston. A red zone turnover for a team that stinks in the red zone is awful.
**The Redskins took back to the ball again after another stop and Robert Griffin III hit Andre Roberts for a 23-yard strike and got rid of the football a few times right on time. The drive ended when Griffin threw a seed in stride to Niles Paul who caught it on the run and was racing to the end zone only to have the ball stripped by Houston for the turnover. It is the 2nd drive in a row that Washington turned the ball over inside the Texans' 10-yard line.
**If you can believe it, now the Texans fumble the ball inside the Redskins 10-yard line as Ryan Kerrigan with a great job hustling and stripping Foster and Keenan Robinson recovering the ball.
**Robert Griffin III was just sacked by J.J. Watt. Tyler Polumbus did all he could, but lost his block. Not sure why the Redskins have isolated him a lot in my opinion in passing situations.
**The Redskins defense is wearing out with all of the injuries to Barry Cofield and Hatcher being banged up. Ryan Fitzpatrick just mayb have broke their back beating a double A gap blitz for a huge conversion and then a big strike in the passing game. Houston is down in scoring territory.
Houston just kicked a 42-yard field goal to put the texans up 17-6 with 1:55 to go. Beyond desperation time.
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The Redskins kick-off the 2014 season at NRG Stadium in Houston at 1 PM Sunday. The two worst teams (record wise) in 2013 get together for a contest that some ill-advised pundits had as their Super Bowl prediction a year ago.
With that as a backdrop, it is time to go "Inside the Numbers" for the Redskins and Texans.
I. Jay Gruden takes center stage:
Gruden makes his NFL head coaching debut. In his coaching career in Cincinnati, Florida (UFL), Tampa Bay, Orlando (AFL), Nashville (AFL) - Gruden is (5-1) in debut games.
Redskins head coaching debuts over the last 14 seasons are a mixed bag. Mike Shanahan, Joe Gibbs (Part Deux) and Steve Spurrier won their first game. Marty Schottenheimer, Jim Zorn and Terry Robiskie lost theirs.
I A. Jay meet Kyle. How different with it be?
Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com did a terrific breakdown of Gruden's play type calls with the Bengals recently.
The Bengals ran the ball 1,366 times over his three seasons, which was right behind the Redskins. San Francisco was number one in rushing attempts while the Cowboys ran the least.
Gruden rand the ball on first down 761 times, which ranked sixth in the NFL during that span, but as Tandler pointed out - Gruden was slightly more pass heavy (114 pass plays) than run based (109 run plays) inside an opponents 10-yard line.
As for throwing the ball, Gruden and the Bengals were exactly even with what the Redskins did over the last three years at 1,764 passes for 19th in the NFL during that span.
Per Tandler, "During his (Gruden's) time in Cincinnati, only four teams called fewer pass plays on first down than did Gruden. He called 595 first-down passes; only the Chiefs, 49ers, Jets, and Seahawks called fewer. The Patriots called the most with 831."
Gruden is aggressive when he has the edge on the scoreboard, as Tandler noted. "The Bengals threw 609 passes while holding a lead (at any point during the game); that ranked seventh in the NFL. And it didn’t particularly matter if Cincinnati had a bigger lead. Gruden called 418 passes when up by seven points or more, eighth-most in the NFL."
II. Red Zone Improvement for the Redskins?
While with the Bengals, Gruden's offense went from 26th in red zone percentage to 16th in 2012. 2013 saw a sizable leap to 2nd in the NFL in this key area.
Gruden's Bengals were tied for 24th in goal-to-go percentage in 2011 during Andy Dalton's rookie year, and in 2012 - they were 21st. In 2013, they were the best in the NFL.
**The Bengals were 18th in points per game in Gruden and Dalton's first season (2011) and were 18th in the NFL on third downs. They were 22nd in first downs per game and fifth in sacks per pass attempt.
They were 20th in yards-per-game, 23rd in yards-per-play, 19th in rushing yards-per-game, 27th in rushing yards-per-play, 20th in passing yards-per-game, 22nd in passing yards-per-play, and 13th in interception rate.
**The Bengals were 12th in points per game in Gruden and Dalton's second season (2012) and were 27th in the NFL on third downs. They were 24th in first downs per game and 25th in sacks per pass attempt (the lower the better).
They were 22nd in yards-per-game, 21st in yards-per-play, 18th in rushing yards-per-game, 20th in rushing yards-per-play, 17th in passing yards-per-game, 16th in passing yards-per-play, and tied for 24th in interception rate.
**The Bengals were 6th in points per game in Gruden and Dalton's final season (2013) and were 10th in the NFL on third downs. They were 9th in first downs per game and third in sacks per pass attempt.
They were 10th in yards-per-game, 13th in yards-per-play, 18th in rushing yards-per-game, 28th in rushing yards-per-play, 8th in passing yards-per-game, 10th in passing yards-per-play, and 24th in interception rate.
The number one takeaway as I have said many times was Gruden and Dalton's improvement in the red zone. They went from 26th to 2nd in the NFL in three seasons together.
The reason I point this very important trend out is because the Redskins went from one of the best to a massive struggle in Robert Griffin III's first two years.
In 2012, the Redskins were fourth in red zone percentage and 2nd in goal-to-go efficiency. In 2013, Washington dropped to a tie for 20th in red zone and 13th in goal-to-go efficiency.
There are of course many reasons for that drop but clearly, the Redskins have to improve and get much better in Jay Gruden's first year with Griffin. There can not be and should not be any drop from last year's numbers. That would be a death drop for the Redskins.
III. Paging Mr. Watt.
The NFL's newest multi-bazillionaire has 108 quarterback hits since 2011 which leads the league over that span, along with 74 tackles-for-loss and 36.5 sacks in his career. He's a defensive end in a 3-4. That's insane.
In the last two seasons, he's had 21 passes defensed. That may not seem like a big deal but it is, especially for Sunday's matchup against the Redskins.
Watt has traditionally lined up more on the left side of the Texans defense, but this year he will line up on the right side as well to provide Houston with a tag-team duo on one side of the formation with Jadeveon Clowney.
IV. Run Baby Run:
Don't forget about the Texans run game. Sure, Arian Foster is not the same guy he used to be. How much of that was injury? How much of that was Matt Schaub? Who knows.
However, the Redskins will face an offensive line led by Duane Brown and Chris Myers that has paved the way for 29 100-yard rushing performances since 2010. That's the most in the NFL. The Redskins have 20 such efforts in that span.
On the flip side, the Texans have only allowed 24 rushing touchdowns since 2011. That's third in the NFL and first in the AFC. San Francisco and Seattle are the only teams ahead of Houston over that span.
V. One, but not both:
The Texans only had 11 created turnovers last year. It's hard to be that poor, so it stands to reason that they should not have three or four Sunday. That's even with the addition of Clowney and the return of Brian Cushing.
Still, turnovers have been another enormous issue for the Redskins. They went from 14 total in 2012 to 34 in 2013. They had more lost fumbles last year than they had total turnovers in Griffin's rookie season.
Griffin was directly responsible for 16 of the turnovers. Clearly not playing the last 3.5 games limited the amount, but the problem is still glaring.
This preseason, Griffin had two dreadful interceptions and a lost fumble credited to him that wasn't his fault. There were other issues, but the bottom line is this.
Griffin can get sacked 40 times this year and as long as he doesn't get hurt or the offense doesn't turn the ball over more than say 20 or 22 times - he and the Redskins will be fine.
It's the double toll of both turnovers and sacks or negative plays caused by protection breaking down, receivers not getting open and Griffin holding onto the ball too long.
VI. This can't be true, can it?
Only yours truly would have found this and not questioned the reality of it, considering my career long stance on Peyton Manning. Could Jay Gruden's protege Andy Dalton be the 2nd coming of Peyton Manning? If you go "Inside the Numbers" you might be surprised to see the three-year parallel.
Final Score Prediction : Houston - 13 Washington -10
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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