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Grantland takes on the Texans' Offense

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Joined: 21 Mar 2009
Posts: 5551
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:22 pm    Post subject: Grantland takes on the Texans' Offense Reply with quote

The Chron commented on this story

It was a harsh assessment, but truthful. Most of us as Texans' fans have said many similar things (e.g. predictable offense, bland play-calling, etc.)
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Joined: 04 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that the Patriots out game planned the Texans twice, and about the misuse of James Casey considering the lack of receiving talent. I also would have added the mistake of keeping Kevin Walter in a starting role all season, unlike the Niners who changed quarterbacks even though Alex Smith definitely had a better grasp on the offense. We've got to find ways to use our young playermakers more.

However, I think the Texans know what they are, and how they can turn it into a championship football team, and I really like the pieces they added in last year's draft moving forward as prospective starters in Mercilus, Brooks, Jones, and even Martin and Posey. I think both could be very productive receivers.

Texans are in one of the best positions in the league. They don't have to reach in the draft, and Rick Smith continues to post exceptional draft classes.
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Joined: 09 Nov 2011
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Location: Austin, Texas
PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that article merits a lot of truth, especially point 1 and 2. The running game never looked comfortable to me last year. It didn't seem smooth and effortless as it did in the past. We, as fans, blamed it on an assortment of things (Foster's diet, Barwin's letterman jackets, attitude, etc.) but it was probably most associated with the right side of the line being unsettled and some combination of unprepared/untalented.

The lack of a true #2 receiver was also pretty evident, as I'd be willing to guess on 90% of the Schaub throw aways or self sacks, nobody was open downfield, but the blame is on him anyways. The interceptions also could've been a result of this lack of open receivers, except for the deep underthrows (which are common for Schaub but I think Dilfer's assertion that he was injured towards the end of the year certainly helps explain the uptick in underthrows).

And as for point 3, I don't remember who said this, but when speaking of the Texans offense he/she said something along the lines of "Our offense is simple. We're going to shove the run up the throat even if you know its coming and you can't stop it. We are going to demoralize you, and then we're going to pass on you". And I liked BRB's comparison of the Texans offense to the Anaconda. Slowly choke the life out of your prey with a bevy of 4-7 yard runs and 15 yard play action bootleg passes. So I wouldn't say the scheme is outdated so much as it requires the perfect pieces.
"You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas."
-Davy Crockett
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the notion that the Texans need to diverse their passing game and that it would get players open easier which would help Schaub. I agree also that the first step in doing that will have to involve getting better wide receivers.

However, the stuff about the zone blocking scheme being outdated is just a bunch of crap. The article goes so far to claim that few teams are relying on straightforward zone blocking. In fact if you look at the top 8 rushing teams last year, all but 3 were zone teams. And incidentally, that Ravens team who won the Superbowl also are primarily a zone blocking team. I don't see how Mike Shanahan adding a read/option element to his zone scheme shows that zone blocking, "straight-forward" or not is outdated. The Redskins won plenty of games without the aid of the read/option anyhow. Ditto with Seattle, who didn't even introduce the read/option until well into the season anyway, they generally had a very vanilla zone blocking, play action passing offense. The read/option is simply another wrinkle to add to an offense that works very well when you have a mobile QB.

Some of the Texans boot action plays became predictable, I'll grant that, they should have mixed up the types of play action stuff they ran a bit more. Early in the season they were killing teams deep, but eventually the league adjusted and the Texans didn't, and you'll frequently notice those underneath options to Casey or Daniels were well covered because teams were prepared for them. So the Texans could have done more there.

The redzone offense was lacking in creativity too, there's plenty of room for criticism in that area.

I also think the article is overrating the potential impact of James Casey, who is not an Aaron Hernandez type talent, I think people are delusional if they think Kubiak could have got big results out of Casey if he just used him differently. James Casey is just a guy with soft hands and better than average route running ability compared to other Fullbacks. He has very little burst, size, or power and contrary to what the writer seems to think, there are many Linebackers who would have no trouble covering James Casey. People are also way too quick to pat Chip Kelly on the back but that's to be expected.

The article mentions Shane Vereen giving the Texans trouble as some sort of example, but the reality is, that was one game. Most teams don't have such poor coverage from Linebackers as the Texans had with lineups like Dobbins, James, Barwin, and Mercilus, so it's not as easy to find mismatches, most teams don't have players like Welker or Hernandez either for that matter to force defenses to give extra attention. That example doesn't provide any sort of blueprint into anything other than taking advantage of certain predictabilities in coverage, like Connor Barwin splitting out to cover when a running back splits out. It's nothing you can base a big portion of an offense around over the course of a season.

When you're a team like the Texans who really only has Andre Johnson as a mismatch, and where you don't have any great after the catch runners, there's not as much you can do to create defensive confusion. It's not like Kubiak doesn't move Owen Daniels around with motion plenty to help get favorable matchups, or that he didn't use Keshawn Martin and others on reverses to add misdirection and the like. I think people are kidding themselves if they expect much more with the pieces they had. Sure if Percy Harvin played for Houston say it would be pretty dissapointing to see him just used as a vanilla receiver, but you have to look at the talent that's actually there and be realistic.

The only other thing I think last season's Texans could have done more of that would have helped the passing game is diversifying route concepts and using more formations with multiple receivers on the field(and maybe even some looks where you go 4 or 5 wide out of 2 TE looks with Daniels and Casey split, which catches the defense off-guard, which I assume is what the writer wants) as a change-up to create some easy throws, instead of doing that only when it's 3rd and long(which is what the Texans basically played like last year, except for one game against Jacksonville where they did use a fair amount of spread sometimes even with 5 wide receivers and Schaub as a result had a huge game). Schaub's strength is reading a defense and knowing when a guy is open so spread concepts should suit him very well.
Stop slobbering over Brian Dawkins
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