Redskins

Houston hopes offense improves against Indy

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Houston hopes offense improves against Indy

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans didn't score a touchdown for the first time in more than six years and had their fewest yards of the season in a loss to the Vikings.

They must get their offense going for Sunday's game against the Colts. They need a win to secure a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The offense is struggling at a time when it should be peaking. The unit failed to score a touchdown for the first time since Oct. 15, 2006, a span of 106 games.

Matt Schaub said he knows everyone has to do their jobs for the offense to click, but he takes more responsibility for the group as the quarterback.

``There's plenty of stuff from the game that I can correct from my own play and I've got to do that first , and then look to other places to help the group as a whole do that,'' he said. ``You take it upon yourself to correct what you personally did wrong, and if everyone does that together and is on the same page that is the recipe for success.''

The Texans believe better execution and keeping third downs manageable will be keys to success this week in Indianapolis, a place they've never won.

Houston was 1 of 11 on third downs against the Vikings. Some of the trouble came from plays in the running game with negative yardage on earlier downs, but they were also slowed by nine penalties for 60 yards.

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is focused on cleaning things up and eliminating the penalties this week. He's also talked to his team about the importance of putting together long drives. Seven of Houston's possessions against the Vikings ended after five plays or less.

``Staying on the ball is, I think, for anybody the key to winning in the NFL,'' Dennison said. ``Just continuous drives. Not only does it wear their defense down, it secures points ... and helps your defense get a chance to rest. It is a momentum and confidence builder if you're on the field for longer drives.''

A major component to doing that will be getting the running game going again. In Houston's three losses this season the team has averaged 3.8 yards or less a carry, and the Texans managed a season-low 2.1 against Minnesota. Those numbers aren't acceptable to left tackle Duane Brown.

``I don't think we've performed up to par at all,'' Brown said. ``We've had some moments where we've broken out some big runs, but consistently we haven't done our jobs good enough to get to where we need to be. Averaging two or three yards a carry is not going to cut it for us. It's not going to cut it this week, and it's not going to cut it in the postseason.''

Coach Gary Kubiak was very unhappy with Houston's work against the Vikings and hopes his players are just as upset.

``Anybody who is worth their salt from the standpoint of competing, when you don't succeed or you don't play the way you expect yourself to compete, then of course you're bothered,'' he said.

Veteran receiver Andre Johnson is encouraging the team not to dwell on its mistakes from last week, but rather learn from them and move on. He said they must establish themselves early to be successful against the Colts.

``We just need to go out and get off to a fast start and get into a rhythm,'' he said. ``The biggest thing is just going out and making plays. That's something we didn't do last week, we didn't make any plays.''

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Landon Collins: 'You never know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're getting'

Landon Collins: 'You never know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're getting'

Kirk Cousins started 57 games during six seasons with the Redskins and, well, um, it's hard to come up with one word to describe his time in Washington. 

There were certainly highs, none higher than the hot streak Cousins went on late in 2015 to capture an NFC East title. The Redskins closed that season on a four-game win streak where Cousins threw 12 touchdowns against just one interception. 

There were also lows. In Week 17 of 2016, the Redskins needed a win in the season finale to get in the playoffs while the Giants had already clinched the NFC East title. The Redskins had everything to play for, the Giants ended up resting a number of their starters. Still, the Redskins lost, and Cousins threw a dagger interception late in the game to seal their fate. For the game, Cousins finished with 287 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but the pick to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the season killer. 

The point here is not to drag Cousins. He was the most durable and most stable quarterback the Redskins have had in decades. He never got hurt, and while he turned the ball over, he could deliver downfield strikes and run the team's offense at all times. 

The point here is to say Cousins is not always the most consistent QB, and that's backed up by Redskins safety Landon Collins.

"Like I was with the Giants, you never know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're getting. Right now they're getting Pro Bowl Kirk Cousins over there," Collins said on Monday.

Collins faced Cousins plenty of times when the safety played for the Giants, and New York found plenty of success against the quarterback. In nine career games against the Giants, all as QB of the Redskins, Cousins threw 12 interceptions. 

So when Collins talks about slowing Cousins down, it's not from a hypothetical place. 

"Pressure. Pressure. When I was with the Giants, I know we put a lot of pressure on him, put a lot of guys in his face, a lot of blitzes, lot of different systematic fronts and stuff like that, disguises," the Redskins safety said. 

Cousins will come into Thursday's game against the Redskins on fire. He's thrown 10 TDs against just one INT in the Vikings last three games, all wins. In Detroit on Sunday, Cousins went for more than 300 yards passing with four touchdowns and wasn't sacked once. 

"Right now he's playing like a Pro Bowl Kirk Cousins," Collins said. "We would say at the Giants, 'You don't know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're going to get.' Right now they're getting Pro Bowl Kirk Cousins, and he's playing at a high level right now."

At 1-6 the Redskins defense doesn't scare anybody. The team has had some success upfront, however, causing pressures and getting to passers. Washington has 16 sacks on the season and the front five has gotten things going after a very slow start.  

Cousins isn't unique. Pressure causes turnovers for defenses. Players on both side of the football know that, and that's what Collins want to see in Minnesota against Cousins.

"That's the biggest game plan: try to force him into mistakes. Right now he's playing at a high level, so it's going to be hard. He's playing against a lot of good teams and he's been going against a good defense. That's probably made his skill level and his play much better."

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

10.21.19 Rick Horrow interviews Abby Warner

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USA TODAY Sports

10.21.19 Rick Horrow interviews Abby Warner

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick interviews Indy Women in Tech Summit Co-Chair Abby Warner and shares the biggest sports business stories of the past week.



LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE HERE

1. Top cyber protection software provider Acronis is leading the way in data protection for the modern enterprise. Sports partners include Boston Red Sox, NIO Formula E, Arsenal FC, ROKiT Williams Racing, SportPesa Formula 1, Manchester City FC, and more. Trusted by the world’s leading sports teams across the world, Acronis ensures they have the latest technology backing up, storing, and protecting their valuable data. “This event will bring to life the vision… that we’ve been building across all facets of our business during the last five years,” Serguei Beloussov Acronis Founder and CEO said in advance of last week's inaugural Acronis Global Cyber Summit. The summit welcomed over 600 IT professionals to hear from world-renowned experts and business leaders shaping the future of cyber protection, including Herjavec Group CEO Robert Herjavec, Security Analyst and Researcher at Tel Aviv University Keren Elazari, and American former FBI counter-terrorism and counterintelligence operative Eric O’Neill, along with Acronis founder and CEO, Serguei Beloussov.

2. ISC exec Grant Lynch drives into sunset. Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000 Bulbs 500 at Talladega Superspeedway marked the final race of Rick’s friend longtime track Chairman Grant Lynch’s tenure, and ISC put out a video thanking him for the 26-year run. Lynch joined the track in January 1993, and over the years he has become one of NASCAR’s most well-known and respected track executives, influential behind the scenes and constantly doing media appearances. Lynch is retiring after this year and is set to be replaced by Talladega’s vice president of marketing and sales Brian Crichton. Daytona International Speedway, the flagship track of Talladega’s parent company, ISC, released a montage Sunday morning with several senior executives sharing their memories and thanking Lynch, including NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, ISC President John Saunders, and Chief Innovation and Development Office Craig Neeb. Alas, we won’t know the outcome of Sunday’s playoff race until Monday, as rain delayed the race’s conclusion. Talladega also unveiled their new $50 million infield renovation this past weekend – which will serve as a lasting legacy to Lynch.

3. Merging Vets and Players (MVP) charity teams up with the Atlanta Falcons to reduce military and veteran suicides. According to KOAM News, the MVP charity aims to bring together combat veterans and retired professional athletes to help them adjust to life outside their professions. The organization has set up chapters in four major U.S. cities, and the Atlanta branch is working closely with the Atlanta Falcons. MVP was founded by FOX’s NFL insider, Jay Glazer, and Nate Boyer, U.S. Army Green Beret Veteran and former NFL athlete who played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. After recently running some physical activities as a group, MVP coaches run “The Huddle” – a 1:15 long support group where participants are coached to be proud of their scars. Some of MVP’s ambassadors include former NFL players Michael Strahan, Olin Kreutz, and Chris Long, who have struggled with retirement. By crossing the interactions between NFL and combat veterans, both ex-players and veterans can help express their emotions and struggles in a positive way.