Washington Redskins To Face a Tough Test in The Houston Texans

Matthew BrownCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2010

LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 12:  The Washington Redskins run onto the field before the NFL season opener against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on September 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins ushered in the Mike Shanahan era with a hard-fought victory over the division rival Dallas Cowboys.

While there are plenty of positives to be found in the win, there are also a number of glaring holes in the team's attack on both sides of the ball.

Nothing a week of practice and game-planning won't fix, right?

It was obvious from the start that Donovan McNabb does not yet have the rhythm with his receivers that he did while in Philadelphia. Chalk it up to learning a new offense, or receiver error, but what if it doesn't stop after Week 1?

Maybe McNabb needs to take some velocity off of his throws, but there were a number of passes that were flat out dropped. Most notably, Santana Moss dropped what would have been a first-down catch, and Mike Sellers dropped everything that hit his hands.

Not the way to start the season if you're the Redskins.

The defense proved the naysayers wrong by holding the Cowboys to a single touchdown after every so-called expert went on and on about how overpowering their offense would be for the formerly 4-12 Redskins.

While the defense produced just one sack, it forced the all-important fumble for a touchdown to close out the first half, and harassed Tony Romo enough to get him out of sync with his receivers when it mattered most.

The new look 3-4 unit scored more points than the offense, which is both a positive and a negative.

The offense could not find a groove to sustain enough drives, and could not get into the end zone. Same problems, different season.

Perhaps it should be a credit to the Dallas defense for keeping the Redskins out of the end zone, or just another issue for the Shanny crew to iron out.

At the end of the day, 13 points is rarely enough to win a game. The Redskins will need to score in order to compete with the rest of the league, no matter how well their defense performs week in and week out.

There were flashes of what some people may recognize as Mike Shanahan football, where Portis found gaping cutback lanes. However, those moments were few and far between against a predictably smothering Cowboys defense.

The Redskins will have to do better than 89 yards on the ground to beat the Texans, even if their victory over the Colts was a fluke.

So, was this neutered offensive performance a tribute to the defense or a sign of rough waters ahead?

It would be absurd to think the Redskins won't improve on the offensive side of the ball against the Houston Texans next week, but how much of an improvement will they need to avoid the fate of the Colts?

The Colts' defense is hardly the best in the NFL, but can Washington stop the formerly unknown Arian Foster from producing 264 yards of offense and three touchdowns?

The Redskins gave up 103 yards on 22 carries—4.7 yards per carry. Shockingly, the Texans were underwhelming through the air, where they were so successful over the last two seasons.

Is it because they had the run game hitting on all cylinders, the exit of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to Washington, or a credit to the Indianapolis defense?

I don't think the Redskins can afford to find out the hard way—they should prepare for Foster's ground game as well as the Matt Schaub/Andre Johnson connection. Not to mention the eight year chip on the Texans' shoulder.

The Texans could be headed for their first playoff berth in team history if they can get both their air and ground games on the same page. The Redskins can't afford to be a stepping stone on that road.

Against Houston, the Redskins defense needs to get to the quarterback with more consistency. Pressure is one thing, but they need knockdowns sacks to get Schaub off of his game. The secondary can ill afford to give Johnson the kind of room to work that Miles Austin had for Dallas.

The offense needs to work on receiver timing and holding on to catchable passes. The tackles held up well against Dallas, but Mario Williams is just as dangerous at defensive end for the Texans and can change the game if left unchecked.

Johnson can change the game for the Texans offense and Williams can change it for the defense. If the Redskins can find any success through the air, perhaps it will be against the Texans secondary, who were shredded by Peyton Manning, and may try to do too much to prove themselves.

Even after a big win to open the season, the Redskins can't afford to take any days off this week or any plays off on Sunday. The Texans will be coming to Washington on fire after besting the Colts.

Neither team will give an inch, but it will come down to which team makes fewer mistakes and capitalizes off of their opponent's mistakes.