No spies needed: Redskins, Texans' staffs know each other

ASHBURN, Va. -- Mike Shanahan's son used to baby-sit Gary Kubiak's sons.

That's only one of many connections between the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. No need to hire a spy to infiltrate the other team's camp: Both sides have plenty of inside information as they put together their game plans for Sunday's meeting.

"They know what I like; I know what they like," said babysitter-turned-assistant Kyle Shanahan, now the Redskins' offensive coordinator after spending the past four years on the Texans staff. "They know what I don't think is good that they do, and vice versa. We've gone against (that defense) every day for four years.

"There's no secret about what we like to do against each other."

Ten of the coaches on the sidelines Sunday were members of the Denver Broncos coaching staff in 2002.

Houston coach Kubiak and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan have a working relationship that goes back to 1985, when Kubiak was a quarterback and Shanahan the offensive coordinator for the Broncos.

Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, defensive coordinator Frank Bush and three other assistants were on the staff when Mike Shanahan was head coach in Denver. Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur are among four Redskins assistants who have served under Kubiak with the Texans.

Then there's Rex Grossman, the backup quarterback who followed Kyle Shanahan from Texas to Washington this year.

Needless to say, the mind games are under way.

"In sports -- especially in football, in particular -- any advantage that you can have, you're going to use," Washington linebacker London Fletcher said. "If it's just one tip in a certain situation, you're going to use that, and it can be the difference in winning the football game. And we obviously have a strong knowledge of what they want to do with Kyle being over there the last few years, so it helps us."

Kyle Shanahan turned the Texans into a prolific ball-moving machine, and he has brought the same offense to Washington. The offense he left behind has stayed pretty much the same as well, although it appears even more potent after Arian Foster's 231-yard performance in Houston's opening day win over the Indianapolis Colts.

"I'll be watching them pretty closely, and hopefully I won't be screaming from the sideline too much on what the play is going to be," Houston right tackle Eric Winston said. "I know what they teach those offensive linemen and how they're going to line up. I'm sure they know the same thing about us."

Mike Shanahan watched a lot of football during his year off last season after he was fired by the Broncos, but he obviously paid special attention to the Texans because of his son and the other familiar faces on the staff. He went to two games in person and watched all the other Houston games on video.

"Any time you go against somebody that you know really well, I'm not sure either team has an advantage," the elder Shanahan said. "I know them; they know me."

If anything, the coach said, it's possible to get too caught up in trying to outfox a well-known foe.

"Sometimes that's true," Mike Shanahan said. "You get a game plan that gives you the best chance to win, and I think sometimes you do over-think it."

Although they go back a ways, Shanahan and Kubiak aren't exchanging any friendly banter ahead of the game. No use accidentally spilling any more secrets.

"No, we won't talk," Kubiak said. "Heck, neither one of us likes to talk much anyway, so we'll talk after the game."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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