The Houston Texans identity has always been a run first team that controlled the clock and played great defense. So far in 2015, neither of those have been part of the Texans identity.
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In 2014 Houston ran the ball at will, totaling 2,161 yards on the ground. They finished fifth in the NFL in total rushing by going for 135.1 yards per contest. They relied heavily on that attack as they attempted just 485 passes on the year, only two teams threw the ball less than Houston did.
This strategy led to the Texans fielding a fresh defensive unit and they responded by holding opponents to only 19.2 points per game, good enough for seventh in the league.
Fast forward five games into the 2015 season and we see a team that either lost it’s identity or is unsuccessfully trying to establish a new one.
Head coach Bill O’Brien has dialed up the pass early and often this year and the Texans lead the league in pass attempts with 242. Houston is on pace for 774 pass attempts, nearly doubling their total from last year.
The high volume of passing has not been successful either, as Houston has completed only 56.6 percent of their passes. The Carolina Panthers are the lone team with a lower percentage worse in this category.
To top things off, the run game has all but gone away. Averaging only 96.1 yards per contest, the team has had several short drives in each game.
So it’s no surprise that the defense is now struggling as the offense is failing to sustain drives. After surrendering less than 20 points per game this unit is now giving up 27 points, which is the ninth most surrendered by any team.
While it is true that at times the open lanes just haven’t been there, the Texans need to return to the run game. With running back Arian Foster back in the mix now, it is time to return to their old school ground game in an attempt to control the clock and allow the defense to catch their breath from time to time.
The run may not be there immediately, but persistence will be key as any run first offense can tell you. The defense has to get better for Houston to win, but the offense has to help them out as well.