Houston Texans: Run defense continues to struggle each week

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
houston texans, bill o'brien
Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Texans defense allowed over 150 yards rushing in the Week 4 loss to the Vikings.

When asked in the Houston Texans postgame press about the run defense and what needs to happen to improve in that aspect of the game, head coach Bill O’Brien said the following: “I don’t know.”

Coach O’Brien isn’t the only one that feels that way because the Houston Texans run defense was just plain bad, and the results on the field are proof of that.

Yes, the defense of the Texans was on the field way too much once again due to the inability of the offense to produce yards (especially in the first quarter), but someone is going to have to start stopping the run on defense. Someone has to make some sort of change in the scheme or personnel because what we’ve all watch the first four games of the year isn’t working out all that well.

Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook rushed for 130 yards on 27 carries against the Houston Texans defense on Sunday, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. The running back also caught two passes for 16 yards. In all, the Vikings rushing yards amounted to 162 yards as a team on 40 total carries with three touchdowns. Also don’t forget the longest rush by the Vikings was 15 yards from Cook, so Minnesota just chipped away at the Texans.

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Back to the Houston Texans head coach O’Brien, here is his exact quote when asked about how to improve the rush defense (provided by NFL Communications) from the postgame press conference following the 31-23 loss at NRG Stadium:

"“I don’t know. I don’t know. I think at times we tackled well. I think a couple times we like had him in the backfield but he broke free. I don’t know, other than I’ve got to look at the tape. I’m sorry I can’t answer that question more clearly for you. I just have to watch the film, see what we can do to be better.”"

For not only the head coach, but also the general manager, that answer isn’t good enough because the same thing happens every week with this defense when it comes to the run.

Houston Texans News: Have been allowing too many rushing yards all season

Last Sunday in Pittsburgh the Steelers rushed the football 38 times for 169 yards and one score, including James Connor having 18 carries for 109 yards and one touchdown.

In Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans run defense allowed 230 yards rushing on 37 carries, with four players having at least 48 yards rushing each, but no 100 yard rusher.

Remember way back in Week 1 and the Houston Texans rush defense performance when the Chief totaled 166 yards rushing on 34 carries. That game Chiefs rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire had 25 carries for 138 yards and one touchdown in his NFL debut.

It isn’t like the opponents are dominating them with one big run, no those above numbers happen with the opponent gradually taking control of the pace of the game with their running backs, forcing the Texans to be on the field way too long each and every week.

Even defensive end J.J. Watt said some changes need made, but like a true captain he took a lot of the blame, placing it on himself, saying the following after the game:

"“We obviously have to do something different. We are 0-4. Whatever we’re doing is not working. Something needs to change. Something needs to be different. But the only thing that I know I can do is work harder, control what I can control, work harder, be better at my job, do better at my job, be better in my gap, make more plays, get off a double team, get a sack, get a turnover, get a takeaway. I can control what I can control.”"

In all honestly it is tough to see Watt take the blame — and struggle at times this season —  because he’s such a great player, though on Sunday he had just three combined tackles (two solo) and no sacks. Watt and others on this Texans defense are handed a bad hand each game as they are on the field way too much each week, but the rushing success of the opponent needs to be slowed down too.

Against Minnesota in Week 4 the defense of the Houston Texans was on the field for 36:31, as the Houston offense only had possession of the ball for 23:29. Numbers like that can’t continue to happen, or 0-4 will turn into 0-5, 0-6 and so on, because that’s asking too much of any defense each and every week.

Watt is correct in saying the Houston Texans need to do something different, but the answer to that question relies on what Bill O’Brien and defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver deem to be the correct answer. Also if the offense can play better and build drives, that helps keep the defense off the field as well.

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One thing is for sure, for the Houston Texans to be 0-4 is unacceptable, and for their defense to allow so many rushing yards is unacceptable too. Actually, a lot has been unacceptable for this franchise in 2020, and the overall level of play must improve … and improve quickly.