Houston Texans: 5 Key Takeaways from Thursday night’s win
5. First down play-calling needs to be modified
The 176 yards accumulated on first down don’t appear to be much of a problem for the Texans. Four of seven passes were completed for 118 yards (including 44-yard and 51-yard bombs to Will Fuller), and defensive back Kenny Moore caught one interception after a tip.
Fifteen runs were called and accrued 58 yards, although 33 of them came on one well-blocked Carlos Hyde carry. Take away that play, and the first down rushing attack averaged only 1.78 yards per carry and totaled seven negative/zero-yard carries. Bill O’Brien has noticeably become more aggressive this season when it comes to going for it on fourth down, totaling eight conversions in 16 attempts. However, if more efficient calls were made on first down and fewer drives end up requiring fourth-down conversions, the offense would conceivably run a bit smoother.
In a game where the deep passes seemed to connect on every other play, why continue to ruin momentum with ineffective play calling? In a game against a stronger opponent, this strategy would seemingly not be enough to get another win. With a stout New England defensive front coming up next on the schedule, O’Brien needs to dig deep in his former Patriots playbook to overcome the number-one unit in the league.