Redskins

Texans pack up after franchise-best 13-win season

201301141118406940922-p2.jpeg

Texans pack up after franchise-best 13-win season

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans expected to advance farther than they did last season.

Instead, a late-season collapse cost them a bye week and home-field advantage, and they lost in the divisional round just as they did a year before. Now they're left to ponder another missed opportunity after a season that began with such high hopes ended with a 41-28 loss to the New England Patriots.

Coach Gary Kubiak still believes his team moved forward this season.

``Last year we were just excited to be in the playoffs ... and now we're really, really disappointed because we're not in the Super Bowl and we're not playing this week to get in the Super Bowl,'' Kubiak said. ``That's a big compliment to everybody in this building and how hard they work ... we will always be that way now and we expect to be that way for a long time.''

But not everyone is looking on the bright side of a season where Houston won a franchise-best 13 games. Star defensive end J.J. Watt, who developed into one of the top defenders in the league this season, summed up the year differently.

``I don't see it as a success,'' he said. ``We don't have a trophy, so it's not a success. And in my mind in this league if you don't have a trophy then you're not a success. So we work hard this offseason, put every single thing we have into it, and we're going to come back next season with that trophy on our mind.''

Watt's performance this season was one of the biggest reasons Houston won its second straight AFC South title. Watt led the NFL with a franchise-record 20 1/2 sacks in the regular season. He also had 107 tackles, including 39 for losses, 16 passes defended and forced four fumbles. He added another nine tackles, including 1 1/2 sacks and three tackles for losses with two passes defended in Houston's two postseason games.

``Of all my years in football, and I've been around a couple of MVPs, it's as good as a football season as I've ever seen,'' Kubiak said. ``He's a second-year player is what's amazing about it. I think the sky's the limit for this guy.''

As Watt grows into a more veteran role, Kubiak plans to lean on him as an example for other young players on the team.

``The thing I want him to do is raise this team's level of play and see us get past that step that we haven't gotten past in the last two years,'' Kubiak said. ``I think he's committed to doing that. I think he's going to be a leader on this team for a long time.''

Much of the criticism from fans and media following the loss has been directed at quarterback Matt Schaub, who threw an interception in the fourth quarter Sunday to end a drive that could have cut New England's lead to less than a touchdown. He also threw for 343 yards and two scores in the loss.

Schaub made the first two postseason starts of his career this season after missing last year's playoff run with a foot injury.

Kubiak believes putting all the blame for the loss on his quarterback is unfair, and said that a number of players, including Schaub, didn't make plays that could have changed the outcome. He has no plans to make any changes at the position in the future.

``I believe in Matt,'' Kubiak said. ``He's the quarterback for our football team and I have no doubt about him. I feel very good about our quarterback. Our whole team has got to get better - and that includes coaching and playing - for us to make the next step and Matt's a part of the team.''

Schaub led an offense that was seventh in the NFL with an average of 372.1 yards a game. He was helped by excellent seasons from running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson. Foster was second in the AFC with 1,424 yards rushing in the regular season and Johnson bounced back from his worst season to finish with a career-high 1,598 yards receiving, which led the AFC.

Kubiak was disappointed that those numbers didn't translate into more consistent offensive outings in the last part of the season.

``There's a lot of good things going on right there, but we want to be the best,'' he said. ``And being the best meant that we could have been more consistent in the last month of the season and that could have been a difference for our team. That's the biggest thing right now for me is why weren't we more consistent in third down playing and those type of things late in the season like we were in the first three quarters of the season?''

NOTES: Rookie WR DeVier Posey injured his Achilles tendon in Sunday's game and will require surgery. Kubiak wasn't sure Monday how long he'll be out. ``It's a big blow,'' Kubiak said of the injury. ``You just feel bad for the kid because he had put himself in a situation to come back here next year and compete for a starting spot on this football team.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is made up of a 36-year-old tackle who showed up on July 31 and a guard who's played a grand total of two games at the position. The other side, meanwhile, features a third-round pick who signed a pricey extension in 2017 at tackle and a two-time Pro Bowler at guard.

The first pair, somehow, is holding up OK through two contests this year. It's the second pair that's having trouble. And no one really expected that to be the case.

In Washington's Week 1 loss against Philadelphia, Morgan Moses — the one with the hefty contract — committed two penalties, a holding and a false start. Another holding call was declined.

In the team's Week 2 loss to Dallas, meanwhile, Brandon Scherff — the one with the Pro Bowls — was whistled for holding twice.

Beyond the penalties, though, Moses and Scherff haven't helped out the running backs. At all.

So far, according to the NFL's logs, the Burgundy and Gold have had 11 runs to the left for 46 yards, which comes out to an average of 4.18 yards per carry. There have been 14 carries to the right, on the other hand, for just 27 yards, which comes out to an average of 1.92 yards per carry.

To be fair, it's not like Donald Penn and Ereck Flowers are totally tearing it up at left tackle and left guard. But those stats show they've been surprisingly effective as run blockers and, overall, they're giving the Redskins all they could've hoped for. Moses and Scherff simply aren't.

Now, on the list of problems Jay Gruden's squad is facing, the defense's discouraging start is at the top, while injuries and poor adjustments follow. They need to seriously evaluate how they're trying to stop opposing offenses and what they are (or aren't) doing at halftime.

But Moses and Scherff's slumps are high up on that list of problems as well, because they were supposed to be two reliable veterans and pave the way when they were asked to.

Instead, they're holding the offense back, sometimes literally, sometimes because of sloppy play. The right side of the O-line is currently on the wrong side of things, which wasn't supposed to be the story up front.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

After two games, the Redskins defense clearly does not appear ready for some of the expectations that arrived before the season. That's obvious. What isn't is why. 

In consecutive losses, Washington's defense has given up more than 30 points-per-game and more than 400 yards-per-game. With just two sacks, the defensive front hasn't generated much pressure at all. The sack numbers are low, but opposing quarterbacks aren't taking many hits or pressures either. Heck, on Sunday against Dallas, Dak Prescott completed every pass he threw during the second half. 

Before the year started, the Redskins defense looked poised for a breakout. The team had strong young talent up front with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis. The edge rushers were a pair of first-round picks in veteran Ryan Kerrigan and rookie Montez Sweat. Landon Collins was supposed to provide Pro Bowl play at safety. 

It just hasn't worked. 

The biggest Redskins struggles have come on third down. The defense just can't get on the field. In a Week 1 loss, the Eagles converted 11 of 17 third downs and went on long drives throughout the second half. Against the Cowboys in a Week 2 loss, Dallas never punted in the second half.

Against Philly, the Redskins gave up 4 yards-per-carry, which is usually a losing formula. Against Dallas, the Redskins gave up more than 6-yards-per-carry, which is definitely a losing formula. 

There are plenty of stats to show how bad the Redskins defense has been. These are just a sample. The bigger issue, however, is why it's happening.

And there aren't easy answers.

Injuries are a part of the equation. Losing Allen hurts a lot, as does losing cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau for the Dallas game. But still, injuries aren't a full explanation. 

Scheme is part of the problem. The Redskins tend to play conservative defense, without much blitzing or disguised looks. And if the defensive front isn't getting home, it's big trouble for the secondary when the quarterback has plenty of time. 

Coaching is a problem too. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is in charge of the conservative scheme. He could change that, and maybe should change that, but so far he has not. In his post-game comments, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said his staff isn't "reaching" the defensive players yet. That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence. 

Players also need to play better. Sweat, Ioannidis and Kerrigan aren't generating much pass rush, and that's a major problem. Josh Norman needs to be better too. 

There are no easy fixes here. There's no silver bullet, no singular answer. 

Gruden said there would be no coaching changes because it's so early in the season. That doesn't mean the questions won't keep coming. 

"There are no excuses to be had. We have to look at ourselves, and we have to play better," the coach said of his defense after the 31-21 loss to Dallas.

"We’re minus a couple pieces in the secondary, that has an issue. But really, we should be better than this."

Through two games, the Redskins defense should be much better than it has been. Gruden knows it. Fans do too. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: