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Washington Redskins mailbag: Part 1

ASHBURN, Va. -- In Part 1 of the Redskins mailbag: Searching for a little hope, wondering about Robert Griffin III's game and the strategy of throwing short passes and more. Enjoy.

John Keim: Tress Way surprised me with his consistency. I wasn’t surprised by Ryan Clark’s aggressiveness, but I enjoyed watching how he played; yes, he missed a couple of tackles but he brings such different energy to that position. Kory Lichtensteiger had an excellent game. And I wasn’t surprised by Jason Hatcher, but I was impressed. The man is strong with quick hands. The game was about bad plays more than it was bad players. I was not surprised by linebacker Keenan Robinson or Alfred Morris; both played well.

Keim: Teams will use that on occasion, but not every team is comfortable operating that way. It might not fit the scheme they run to do it that often. But it wasn’t the first time a team has done that, nor will it be the last. Also, Houston went very conservative in the second half in any second- and third-and-long situation -- either running or throwing screens. Also, the Texans had too many third-and-1s. So it wasn’t just the spread formation, it also was situational. Plus, it would help if the Redskins ever got a lead and forced teams to throw.

Keim: An above-average game results in more than six points -- no quarterback should ever be happy with a 96+ passer rating and only one touchdown and I know Griffin himself was not pleased. I also think the fan base is afraid of what happens if Griffin doesn't succeed (again: patience/time/growing pains). Not everyone destroyed him either. But after last season, people were clearly hoping for instant explosions, but based on this summer there will be ups and downs. The Texans, by their alignment, were just fine with the Redskins completing short passes all day. Griffin attempted 14 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage. I do not blame him for not going downfield; the strategy was fine and necessary given the coverage looks. I thought he had a real nice throw to Niles Paul and another to Andre Roberts. But he missed a shot at a huge play by leading Roberts out of bounds on an off-scheduled play. Griffin really didn’t have any impact plays. He wasn’t bad but he wasn’t great. Nor was he above average. The passer rating is a fine tool over time, but there are games it’s misleading. I’ve seen quarterbacks have lower passer ratings whom I thought played really well.

Keim: His goal this offseason was as much to improve his route running as anything. His hands did not look very good this summer. He dropped too many passes in one-on-one drills against linebackers to the point where one 'backer one time yelled out that they didn’t even have to cover him because he couldn’t catch. It was friendly banter on a day where a lot of smack was being talked. But it was telling. Also, why would you want him to get 90 percent of the carries and all the passes? That’s a lot of work -- think about collisions in protection, too. No need for him to handle both roles.

Keim: Houston eliminated the deep threat. When you play your corners 8 and sometimes 9 yards off the ball against certain receivers (DeSean Jackson), it forces the offense to work the short throws. When the corners played up, Houston often brought more pressure. The corners also knew the pressure would get there so even if they played off, they’d anticipate short routes. I know the Redskins feel they should have thrown even more short passes because they were easy yards. You beat it by driving downfield and scoring. When you don’t, the defense continues the strategy. It was a conservative game plan on both sides by Houston. The Texans waited for Washington to make mistakes and the Redskins did in all three phases.