Stopping the Texans Run Game
I would rate this as the most important factor to stopping the Texans offense. Arian Foster and Ben Tate maybe one of the best running back duos in the NFL. Currently, the Texans rank 6th in the NFL in rushing yards.This season Foster is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and Tate is averaging 5.3 YPC. So let's go to the tape and see why these two backs are so effective.
Now what makes Foster so special is his vision and ability to go off schedule on run plays. Let's look at this big run by Foster last week. The Texans come out in a simple I-formation. The play is designed to get Foster to run the ball behind the full-back into the A-gap.
Foster begins to run this ball behind the full-back to the left side, but then he `sees an opening to his right. He cuts the run back toward the right side for a 23 yard gain. If the Chiefs are going to have any success against the Texans offense, they're going to have to be careful not to over pursue. On running plays, the Chiefs defense must maintain backside pursuit. The key to slowing down Foster in the run game is taking away the cutback lane.
Now let's look at the other dynamic running back the Texans have in Ben Tate. Now with Tate you have a running back that is a very patient runner with good speed and power to get chunk yards in the run game. Check out this video of Tate on a simple run play up the B-gap.
As you can see, the play was designed for Tate to run this ball behind the full back in the B-gap. Instead, Tate cuts the run back into the A-gap. Tate shows the patience to allow the blocks to setup and then does an excellent job of cutting it back. Tate also displays the speed to explode through the hole, and then shows the power to run through the defender for a first down. Both running backs are similar in their ability to cut the run play opposite the direction of its original design. The key for the Chiefs' defense is to be gap disciplined. As shown in both videos, both Foster and Tate have the vision to cut runs back for big yardage.
Take Away the Underneath Routes
The Texans much like the Chiefs run a West Coast offense. So by design, the offense is built to attack the field horizontally. What the Chiefs' defense must do in this game is force the Texans to beat them throwing the ball down field. One of the reasons for the Texans alarming turnover rate is due to defenses sitting on the underneath routes. Here's an example of what I'm talking about.
The Texans lined up in a bunch set to the left. The tight end Daniels runs a trail route. As you can see, Smith sits on the route forcing a pick 6. Part of the reason for the Texans struggles is play design. Their offense rarely features any double moves, and the quarterbacks forces balls into tight underneath coverage.
Let's take a look at this next video which features backup quarterback TJ Yates.
The pass is a force throw to the tight end Graham on an out route toward the end zone. The Rams' defense does a good job of understanding what the Texans like to do in goal-line situations. The Texans' Qbs have a tendency to throw to the tight end in goal-line situations. The Rams had a bracket coverage on Graham on the play. The Rams' defense had a safety over the top with Olgetree taking away the underneath throw. Olgetree did a great job of undercutting the ball for a pick 6. The Chiefs' defense ranks #1 in the league with 18 takeaways. They have a chance on Sunday to push that number even higher by undercutting a lot of these underneath routes the Texans like to run.
Stay away from J.J. Watt
The Rams layed out an excellent blueprint on how to slow down J.J. Watt. They spent most of the game doubling him on pass plays and running from him on run plays. More than likely the Texans are going to try to line him up over on Fisher's side of the field. So it's going to be imperative for the Chiefs' coaching staff to give Fisher help by leaving a guard, back, or tight end on his side of the field. Pro Football Focus had Watt with his lowest rating all season, which was a negative 0.8. Pro Football Focus writer, Sam Monson, did an excellent job of breaking down how the Rams neutralized Watt.
I expect this game to be a dog fight early. You have a Texans team trying to keep their season alive and are on their last leg. So the Chiefs are going to have to come out ready to play early in this game. If they can follow the 3 keys I've layed out for them today, they should be able to continue on undefeated.
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