Behind Enemy Lines: Five Questions With CSN Washington

To preview the thoughts around the Nation's capitol about your Houston Texans and how they think they stack up in this Sunday's battle, I had a quick Q & A with Rich Tandler of CSN Washington. We discuss everything from the Redskins running game struggles to Houston's new rushing attack.  Also, it wouldn't be a discussion between a Texan fan and Redskin fan without giving our opinions on the Dallas Cowboys.

We also manage to find a way of getting through the entire process without mentioning Fat Albert once. Crazy.

The discussion begins after the jump...

MK: Thanks for coming in, Rich. We appreciate it as always. But let's get down to business. Going from Jason Campbell to a future Hall of Famer like Donovan McNabb is probably an upgrade. But does McNabb's age and durability concern you at all? And do you think he has much left in the tank?

RT: Statistically, it wasn’t a major upgrade—Campbell’s and McNabb’s stats were very similar last year. But in terms of leadership and other intangibles it was a big step up. His age (34 in November) is not a major concern. Brady and Peyton Manning both are about the same age. McNabb is in outstanding physical shape and there is no reason to think that he won’t play at least three more years after 2010. Durability certainly is a concern. He has played 16 games in a season just once since 2003 so there is a good chance that the Redskins will have to call on Rex Grossman to drive the bus at some point during the season. Hopefully, it will be just for a couple of stops. McNabb is highly motivated to prove his doubters in Philadelphia wrong, despite the politically correct answers he will give you on the subject. As long as he remains reasonably healthy there is no reason to think that he can’t play at a high level for a few more years.

MK: Looking at these two teams is, at times, like looking in a mirror by the way they're being constructed. The Shanahan/Kubiak connection is well known. But with having Kyle Shanahan in Houston last season, many want to know your opinions of the son of Mike.

RT: Kyle will end up being a huge asset for the Redskins. Mike was 24-24 his last three years in Denver and if it had been just him coming here, I don’t think that there would have been much hope for the Redskins to be much better than that. But Kyle will be the difference. He freshened up and modernized his father’s offense and he has the players very enthused about running it. They didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard on Monday but within a few weeks it should be rolling. Player confidence in the offensive game plan has been lacking around here the last couple of years; that will not be an issue now. It would be a mistake to think that Kyle is just a figurehead and that is father is calling the shots on offense. All indications are that Kyle is very much in charge of the offense. The informed speculation is that Kyle is likely to take over for Mike once the elder Shanahan’s contract expires after five years.

MK: Even though I am personally sick of this topic already, I figure it has to be asked. Are Clinton Portis' questionable comments about Ines Sainz looking to be any distraction for the team for Sunday's game? And what is the opinion in D.C. on his comments?

RT: It was just Clinton being Clinton. He is one of those people—and we all know at least one—who was born without a filter between his brain and his mouth. So he just says whatever enters his brain and sometimes the results are entertaining and sometimes they are embarrassing. I did not hear every interview in the locker room on Wednesday and Thursday but in the many that I did take part in there were zero questions about Portis. Shanahan said that he talked to him about it and everything seems to be square. Was what he said stupid and offense? Sure, but as of right now, the incident looks to be close to zero on the distraction meter.

MK: If a train leaves D.C. heading north at 45 km/hr and a plane leaves NYC heading south at 350 km/hr, at the point when the plane is directly above the train, does Dallas still suck?

RT: I don’t have to be able to calculate in the metric system in order to come up with the right answer, which is "of course". The national template for the storyline for Sundays game was that Dallas lost, not that the Redskins won. It didn’t matter at all that DeAngelo Hall, with some help from Andre Carter and Lorenzo Alexander, had to make a great, heads-up play in order to score at the end of the first half. It was all about the Cowboys making the boneheaded call to run a play in the first place. True, between Jason Garrett, Wade Phillips, and Tony Romo, one should have figured that out. But, as I wrote in my article on Tuesday, the Cowboys experiencing a collective brain freeze in a game against you isn’t luck; it’s just a natural advantage of playing against a Wade Phillips coached team. At least most recognize that Brian Orakpo would have planted Romo into the FedEx turf on the last play of the game had Alex Barron not had him in a full nelson. Certainly, after Sunday the Redskins and Texans will be cheering for each other as Washington has Indy, Tennessee, and the Jags left on the schedule while Houston has dates with Philly, the Giants and them Cowboys.

MK: Who wins the game this Sunday and why?

RT: Like you, I had this one marked in the win column for the Redskins before last Sunday. It’s impossible not to be impressed by Houston’s thumping of the Colts so I have had to reconsider my thinking. The most troubling stat to come out of the Dallas game was that the Cowboys averaged 4.7 yards a pop on the ground. If you put that into a blender along with Arian Foster’s monster day against the Colts, when he averaged 7.0 yards a carry, and you have a mix that may lead to the Texans controlling the clock. On the other hand, the Redskins’ running game still is a work in progress. Even if the ground games are a wash, the Redskins have nobody like Andre Johnson and I see him being the difference maker. Miles Austin had over 100 yards receiving on Sunday and Johnson is a far superior player. The best chance I see for the Redskins is to come out with a +2 or better in the takeaway department and the Texans look too well coached to let that happen. Houston 20, Redskins 13

MK: There you have it, guys. I want to give a big thanks to Rich Tandler for taking a few minutes out of his time to participate. You can read his coverage over at CSN Washinton. He has a really good Texans vs Redskins preview and has many good things to say about Arian Foster. Check it out.

RT: Enjoyed it, and good luck, especially after Sunday.

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