2002 Record: (5-9) 12.22.02 | 12pm
December 20, 2002
Road to Recovery
by Jimmy Mohr
The Texans embark on their final road trip of the season this Sunday when they visit the nation’s capital to play the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Neither team is in the hunt for a playoff spot but the pressure most certainly lies upon the shoulders of Redskins rookie head coach, Steve Spurrier. Team owner Dan Snyder hired Spurrier away from the University of Florida this past offseason in hopes of revitalizing an offense that ranked 28th in the league in 2001. The ‘Skins elevated Snyder’s and fans hopes when they finished the preseason with a 4-1 record while averaging 32 points per game.
But the regular season proved to be a different story. The Redskins dropped 4 of their first six games and never fully recovered. In fact, they enter this week’s game having lost five of their last six, ensuring their first losing season since 1998. The Redskins finish the season with home games against the expansion Texans and the hated Cowboys. A loss to either team would make a failed season even more disappointing and make Snyder look like a fool for firing the seasoned Marty Schottenheimer in favor of Spurrier.
The Redskins have employed a quarterback by committee concept. Shane Matthews, rookie Patrick Ramsey and Danny Wuerfful have all quarterbacked in seven games.
Ramsey gets the nod this week after a solid performance against the Eagles in last week’s game. Starting running back Stephen Davis is out with a dislocated shoulder, forcing the ‘Skins offense to rely on two untested backups, rookie Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson. This will only add to the pressure Ramsey will face from the Texans defense.
The Texans are merely hoping to finish the season strong and build momentum for the 2003 season. With a record of 4-10, head coach Dom Capers can’t be thrilled, but the Texans have split their last four games. While the Steelers game was won on defense, the offense rebounded nicely last week against the Ravens. Until the offensive game plan is expanded (talent and otherwise), the defense will have to keep the game close in order to give the offense a chance to win late.
The Texans face a Redskins defense that ranks 10th in the league in total yards but 25th in points allowed. Turnovers have been the contributing factor to their opponents’ scoring. They rank 31st in the league with a -16 turnover margin, averaging nearly three turnovers per game. If the Texans can force the Redskins to hand them gifts, a repeat of the Steelers victory two weeks ago could be possible.
When Houston has the ball…
In week 16 of the season, there will be no surprises. The Texans offense rebounded last week with 277 net yards versus 47 the week before and hopes to continue that positive trend. The Redskins’ defense is ranked 10th in the league and defends the pass and run equally well. The Texans will have to be more aggressive on offense than they were in their last road game. The weather forecast calls for a high in the mid 40’s with a chance of rain, so there should not be any snow to speak of. David Carr has failed to throw a touchdown pass in his last four games; a stat that will have to change if they want to win this week.
When Washington has the ball…
The Redskins quarterback carousel has stopped for the time being on rookie Patrick Ramsey. Last week, Ramsey threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers, thereby earning another start for himself. Leading rusher Stephen Davis is out for Sunday’s game with a dislocated shoulder which leaves the rushing duties to rookie Kenny Watson and Ladell Betts. Watson and Betts combined for 58 yards on 20 carries last week in three plus quarters of action. Spurrier has pulled in the reins a bit on his throw it at all cost philosophy. The only problem is that Stephen Davis is his only rushing threat. The Redskins will have to be creative this week to compensate for his absence.
1. Stop the running game
If the Texans can slow the Redskins’ backfield, it will be up to Ramsey to shoulder the load. Ramsey has less pro experience than David Carr so carrying the offense will be difficult for him. Last week, he threw the ball 35 times and did not have an interception, but there was little pressure on him when they fell behind 17-0 early in the second quarter.
2. Win the turnover margin
The Redskins are turnover prone, to say the least; they lead the league with 16 fumbles recovered by the opposition. There should be opportunities for the Texans to capitalize on the Redskins inability to protect the football. This will lead to better field position and a shorter field for David Carr and Co. to work with. Whoever wins the turnover battle this week in D.C. will win this game.
3. Don’t mail it in
It would be easy for the Texans to coast through these next two games and finish the season 4-12. If they could win only one of these last two games, they would have split their final six games against good competition. It falls on Capers shoulders to get his players motivated to finish the season strong and on a positive note.
David Carr vs. Patrick Ramsey
David Carr was picked 30 spots ahead of Ramsey in the 2002 draft. They both have around a 70 QB rating which should be expected for a rookie quarterback. One major difference in these two players development is that Carr has taken every snap from center this season. Ramsey, on the other hand, has to look over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake. This game could be seen as an experiment into how best to handle a young QB.
Charley Casserly vs. Daniel Snyder
Don’t think for a second Casserly doesn’t want this one bad, real bad, in hopes of showing up the man who unceremoniously showed him the door in Washington. How bad does Casserly want it? I fully expect him to dress and activate himself.
David Carr vs. Jeff Kent and Yao Ming
These guys could run neck and neck in Houston’s next mayoral race right about now. Houston’s professional teams have put themselves in the national and global spotlight this year. Could these three join the ranks of Earl, Nolan and Hakeem? Only time will tell, but it’s an exciting time to be a fan of the Houston teams. Carr needs to do something great this week to steal back some of the spotlight.
HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: If it’s snowing, the offenses might not be this good. Redskins 9, Texans 7
Dave: Braves on the morgue slab. Texans 20, Redskins 16
Jimmy: Spurrier thinks he’s at the Fiesta Bowl and goes for 2 to win and fails. Texans 17, Redskins 16
Keith: Ballcoach and the ‘Skins find a way to pitch it around the yard. Redskins 23, Texans 13
Ric: I think I’ll actually be disappointed if they lose… C’mon, the Redskins suck! Texans 17, Redskins 14
Warren: We didn’t get Carr vs. Harrington this year, so Carr vs. Ramsey will have to do. Redskins 24, Texans 20
2002 Regular Season Records
Bob 9-5; Dave 5-9; Jimmy 6-8; Keith 9-5;
Ric 10-4; Warren 7-6
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 373 200 2266 9/13 TEAM 375 202 2310 11/13 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 169 495 2.9 3 TEAM 378 1252 3.3 6 REC NO YDS AVG TD Miller 45 541 12.0 3 TEAM 202 2310 11.4 11 REDSKINS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT Ramsey 165 86 1140 7/6 TEAM 497 269 3124 22/18 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Davis 207 820 4.0 7 TEAM 359 1491 4.2 8 REC NO YDS AVG TD Gardner 62 894 14.4 8 TEAM 269 3124 11.6 22 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review