3 More Thoughts: Offense

The sick feeling of getting pulverized will pass.  Until then, just 3 more things to think about from the game against the Steelers.

First, a story.  When I was 13, I played in one of those great Thanksgiving pick-up tackle football games you have with your friends.  One of the guys playing was a gigantic Samoan.  He played D-line at some college.  He got the ball on a kick off and came charging down the field.  He was running straight ahead and didn't make any attempt to avoid me.  I had the brilliant idea to go head up with him and stop him with pure tenacity.  We were going full tilt at each other and I made a flying leap to tackle him.  What happened next was such a gigantic departure from my expectations that the moment has forever been burned in my memory.  As we collided, I actually bounced off of him and was flung backwards several feet.

 

Chris Myers

Which brings me to Chris Myers and his infamous "tackle" of Steve Slaton.  Casey Hampton did Chris Myers like the Samoan did me.  Five months ago his father, Chris Myers, Sr., let us know that this might happen.

Chris' father said that Chris' weight and mobility are a trade-off. Chris usually plays around 290-300 lbs. He is really mobile at this weight, but he can be pushed off the ball. He's a fighter though, and will fight for every inch. Even if he gets pushed off, he can often stop the rusher in his tracks. He's looking forward to squaring off with Haynesworth and Henderson.

Well, Myers got his first taste of what massive tackles like Haynesworth and Henderson are like. 

Before we start calling for Steve McKinney, Jason Brown or other power-scheme centers, let's look and see what happened.  A mobile <280 lb. center got stuck trying to hold off the 350+ lbs that is Casey Hampton.  The 3-4 scheme that the Steelers use only made it worse.  Casey Hampton lined up right over Myers for most of the game.  Rather than being in a position to peel off to the second level and use his speed to take out linebackers and safeties, Chris Myers was put in a position where he had to stonewall an oversized nose tackle.  In a game where it's best to put your players in position to make plays, Myers was playing with a pretty nasty albatross around his neck.

Myers and the rest of the Texans line will still struggle from time to time, but as they get the finer points of movement and zone blocking down, you'll start to see them dominate opposing defensive lines.  Kyle Shanahan and Kubiak will put their heads together and figure out how to move the pocket.  When you make the same chunky D-lines move around and chase the play rather than storm the QB, their size becomes a tremendous liability.

 

Downhill

Back to the storming the QB for a second.  The Steelers took advantage of a tactic that I use all the time in Madden.  And the Texans played into it over and over again because they didn't pick up on it.

The Steelers pretty much just came downhill.  Defensive Tackles, Linebackers and Safeties all came surging past the Offensive Line.  They weren't specifically going after wherever Matt Schaub happened to be.  Their primary purpose was to get into the backfield and wreak havoc.  Which they did plenty of. 

A zone scheme is particularly weak against this kind of attack.  Since no one blocker is entirely manned up on a blitzer for the entire play, blitzers are often left unblocked because they're not immediately attacking the ball.  What ultimately happens is that Schaub's mobility and pocket presence got severely compromised. 

He feels pressure from the left, and instinctively takes a step to the right and up into the pocket, only to find a blitzing LaMarr Woodley already in the space he moved into.  Now he has to take his eyes off the field and evade 2 problems at once.  Wash. Rinse. Repeat.  Soon Schaub is jumpy and not looking down field.  He's looking for threats even before they get there.

The Texans already have the strengths to beat this kind of pass rush.  You have to play the same kind of ball.  Decide on a point and attack it, whether it's a player or a side of the field.  Move the play horizontally.  If they want to send 3 or 4 rushers from the strong side to force the QB to roll left into the blitzing CB, scheme to roll right.  Intentionally game-plan to make your throw on the run with Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter trailing Schaub's roll out.

 

Make Them Pay

Part of Kubiak's philosophy is to make teams pay with big plays to the WRs once teams are overplaying the established running game.  Inside this philosophy, Kubiak does something really well.  He gets his teams to run their first scripted plays like clockwork. 

It's time for the Texans to think about making teams pay early with their WRs to open up the run.  Attack the safeties and linebackers.  Let the defense know that they have to cover the whole field.  Then, run it down their throats.  Starting the game in 3 and 4 wide single back sets.  Don't come out in the same tired run-first I-formation.  Going at the defense with Johnson, Walter, Davis, Jones and Anderson will put the safeties on notice that they can't play 8 in the box.

 

Star-divide

 

So break out that Tiger balm until your bruises go from black to Steel Blue. Take Tuesday off from the bad news like the players will.  Then come back Wednesday and scheme and plot how to pluck the Nevermores.

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