Week one of the 2017 season is in the books. Things definitely did not go according to plan for the Texans on Sunday afternoon. The offensive line showed the consistency of room temperature gelatin and the defense was mediocre, at best. There won’t be much time to dwell on the loss, however, as this team must travel to the Cincinnati Bengals in just four days. Week one definitely brought plenty of lessons to take into this next game and there’s plenty of improvements to make. Here are the week two Houston Texans keys to victory.
Week Two Houston Texans Keys to Victory
1) Take the Pressure off of the Offensive Line
That sounds ridiculous. However, the absence of Duane Brown was evident in Sunday’s game and the rest of the line left a lot to be desired. It doesn’t look like Brown is returning anytime soon and there’s no hope in fixing this line in four days. The only option Bill O’Brien has is to work this offense around a shaky offensive line. O’Brien is going to have to change his gameplan to try and “mask” the fact that his lineman can’t block.
So, how can O’Brien fix this? Speed things up on offense. If Deshaun Watson isn’t seriously injured and can play Thursday night, it will make things much easier. The offense is going to need to utilize the read option with Watson and Lamar Miller. Houston will also need to incorporate more screen passes into the gameplan. Bubble screens to the speedy Braxton Miller, for example, could lead to some explosive plays.
2) Contain the Run
Houston’s defense left a lot to be desired in Sunday’s game. The biggest issue for the defense was not being able to stop Jacksonville’s run game. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette was able to rush for 100 yards and a score. Backup Chris Ivory was able to rush for 42 yards as well. Both Fournette and Ivory broke off a 17 yard run and quarterback Blake Bortles was able to gain 15 yards on a single rush as well.
Cincinnati may not have put any points on the board, but they had a decent game on the ground. Giovani Bernard only carried the ball seven times but finished with 40 yards, including one that went for 23 yards. Jeremy Hill was also able to gain 26 yards on six carries, including a 12 yard gain. If Houston is going to have a shot at beating the Bengals, these running backs will have to be contained.
3) Pressure the Quarterback
The Baltimore Ravens were able to bring consistent pressure on Andy Dalton during their game Sunday. Dalton ended up throwing four interceptions completing only 16 of his 31 passes for 170 yards. Houston’s defense should be able to generate similar pressure and force some of those same mistakes from the veteran quarterback.
The last thing the Texans need is to allow time for Dalton to find one of his weapons. If Dalton can sit in the pocket and comfortably throw it to A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, or Tyler Eifert, it’s not going to be pretty.