Houston Texans: Can they fix this offense?
The Houston Texans are gearing up for a road game against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons this weekend and if they want to beat this high powered offense, they need to do something about their own.
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Houston is 1-2 on the year and has managed a total of 19 points in the first half of games they have played. Conversely they have given up 46 points to opponents in the first half of their three contests.
The Texans have been thrown completely off their strategy from last season when they went 9-7 behind a stellar defense and good run game. To this point in 2015, they have been a team living, and dying by the pass.
Against Tampa they earned their first win and it was no coincidence that it happened to be the same game where the running game finally looked explosive. Alfred Blue gained 139 yards on 31 carries and ran in a touchdown as well. Against Kansas City he had 42 yards on nine carries and only six yards on five carries in Carolina.
Although the offense still started slow, they played a young team in Tampa that never took control of the game. Against Atlanta, that won’t be the case.
Atlanta just recently came back from a game that saw them trailing 14-0 at one point and again down by 14 when the score hit 28-14. They wound up beating their opponent, the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 39-28.
The slow starts take you out of your game plan, as evidenced by the first two games of the year. A slow start against Atlanta will see you taken out of the game completely.
But can they fix the issue? Quarterback Ryan Mallett seems to think things have gotten better and will continue to do so, saying the more he plays, the more comfortable he is.
"“Throughout my career, high school, college, whatever, I always feel better the more I play, the more comfortable I get. Hopefully that’ll continue,” Mallett said. “It feels kind of like after Cleveland (a win last season where Mallett started), but we need more, we want more, we tasted finally what it tastes like to win and that’s just all about how hard we worked, how much effort we put into the game plan, know what we’re doing, know our assignments and then execute.”"
Mallett says he is getting more comfortable and head coach Bill O’Brien is praising his mechanics. However, I don’t think the fifth-year pro is the real issue with this team, but instead the guys in front of him are what’s wrong with this offense.
Houston came into the season with a good core of starting offensive lineman, but had questions about the depth behind them. Since then their linemen have been dropping like flies.
Starting left tackle Duane Brown has missed the last two games, left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo hasn’t played all year, right guard Brandon Brooks sprained his ankle during the Tampa game and their fill-in at left guard, Jeff Adams was lost for the year with a knee injury.
The team has been relying on recently acquired guys like tackle Chris Clark and Oday Aboushi. Clark was traded for at the end of the preseason and Aboushi was claimed by the team days ago. They have also seen a lot of undrafted rookie tackle Kendall Lamm this season so far.
While injuries are no excuse in the NFL, no team would lose this many lineman and not see some sort of adverse affect on their play. The positive news for Houston however, is that things can get better just as Mallet says, with time.
Brooks looks like he may be able to play Sunday. Brown is closer to returning and to top it all off, the franchise rushing leader Arian Foster could be back at running back as early as this week.
If the o-line can finally get to full strength and Foster is lined up in the backfield, look for this offense to be more than simply fixed. Look for them to be much improved.