Tape Study: Texans 31, Raiders 24 -- If Your Tight End Is Wide Open... (II)

OAKLAND CA - OCTOBER 3: Running Back Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raider tries to avoid the tackle of linebacker Zac Diles #54 of the Houston Texans during an NFL football game October 3 2010 at The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland California. The Texans won the game 31-24. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

...you might be playing the Texans. Or in the midst of completing a "That's what she said" joke.

One thing that really struck me about the Texans defense was just how easy the non-aggressive version of it was for the Raiders to beat. When Frank Bush challenged Bruce Gradkowski, the Raiders had no answer for it. But because we were busy playing zone schemes, Bush pretty much kept the Raiders in the game.

Behind the cut, I'd like to defend Zac Diles to an extent. Yes, you heard me. I also will share some more gorgeous run blocking, and some formation statistics from the first four weeks.

TEs might as well be in Dark Space.

Zac Diles is the most targeted Texans player on the year. More than Kareem Jackson, more than Glover Quin, more than any other player. Teams have thrown at him 33 times and completed 31 of those passes. Ugly stats, yeah? Let's bring back Adalius Thomas!

No, really, the problem here is not any fault of Diles in my mind, but simply the scheme that the Texans play happens to funnel easy passes to his side. To wit, check out these two Zach Miller completions:

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Do you see any difference between the two? I've never been a Diles backer, per se, but there really isn't a whole lot he can do to make either of these plays work. This is all scheme. Bush was pretty reluctant to play up to the line for the first half of the fourth quarter, as he was intent on playing zone, so he wouldn't get beat deep (spoiler: he did get beat deep). As soon as he started to actually bring pressure and stop worrying about Gradkowski, the defense improved greatly. The Texans blitzed six players four times, and blitzed five players thirteen times. So, nineteen total blitzes. On those plays, Gradkowski was 4-13 for 50 yards, taking four sacks and getting called for intentional grounding once. The blitz won't always be that effective, because most quarterbacks are better than Gradkowski under pressure (and most offensive lines are better than Oakland's), but it just goes to highlight that Bush needs to stop being passive when the Texans have the lead, thus letting teams get back in the game. 

Side note: I didn't find enough evidence to discover whether Troy Nolan was covering well or not, but he had a solid tackle and at least seemed to get to balls quicker in zones than Wilson or Barber did.

Paladins can cover, Vonta Leach can block.

As you might have expected from a game where they rushed for 250 yards, the Texans had a good run block here or there. Here was my favorite: 

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Note the complete lack of effort required. Just a simple little shoulder and his man is knocked off his feet.

Speaking of good running plays, I just felt like this needed to be immortalized somewhere. For those of you who think that Arian Foster is completely a product of the Texans' offensive line, let's see what Tyvon Branch thinks about that statement:

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Lies, Heavenly Lies, and Offensive Charting Statistics.

Texans offensive sets through Week 4 below.  If some of the play numbers look off from the formation numbers, keep in mind that sometimes a team will line up in a formation but the play won't happen. For instance, a false start, or a timeout before the snap is off. 

138 (48.2%) two RB sets:  All but four of these are either out of a straight I-formation or an offset (FB to one side) I-formation.

-105/138 (76%) of these have two wide receivers, 37 of those involve two receivers on the same side (Twins or "Stacked" if one is under another receiver), and 15 of those 37 have the WRs "tight" to the line.
-29/138 (21%) of these have two tight ends, seven of those 29 involves two tight ends on one side of the line.
-4/138 (2.8%) of these are shotgun sets with a TE split back next to Schaub, and three wide receivers.

They've passed 47 plays (35.3%) with two running backs: 
-The Texans have had seven players block five (10.6%) times, six players block 22 (46%) times, and five players block 20 (42.5%) times.
-Used play-action on 30 (63.8%) of those passes. 11 of those 32 were bootlegs.
-Schaub was pressured on 14 (29.7%) of the 47 passes, and sacked twice. However, some of these hurries were on the bootlegs and not "true" hurries.
-Schaub's YPA (counting sacks) in these sets: 9.46.

They've rushed 86 (64.6%) plays with two running backs:
-YPC with two RBs: 5.6.

127 (44.4%) one RB sets:

-91/129 (70.5%) of these are a single setback with three wide receivers and one tight end. Eleven of those were Trips Bunch sets (three players, usually 2 WRs and a TE, all bunched near the line of scrimmage.)
-29/129 (22.4%) of these are the standard 1 RB/2 WR/2 TE sets, 13 of those had two of the tight ends together on one side.
-5/129 (3.8%) of these are three tight end sets. 

They've passed 85 plays (72.6%) with one RB.
-The Texans have had eight players block (1.1%) once, seven players block (1.1%) once, six players block 37 (43.5%) times, and five players block 46 (54.1%) times.
-Used play-action on 12 (14.1%) of those passes. Five of those 12 were bootlegs.
-Schaub was pressured on 18 (21.1%) of the 85 passes, and sacked 8 times. 
-Schaub's YPA (counting sacks) in these sets: 5.8

They've rushed 32 plays (27.3%) with one RB.
-YPC with one RB: 7.28

21 (7.3%) zero RB sets:

-5/21 (21.7%) of these are 2 TE/3 WR sets; the Texans will usually motion someone out on these that isn't normally a wideout, either a running back or a tight end.
-10/21 (43.4%) of these are 4 WR/1 TE sets.
-1/21 (4.3%) of these is a 2 RB/3 TE set.
-5/21 (21.7%) of these are 5 WR sets.

I'll leave the breakdowns out because of the incredibly small sample size of these. One of them was a QB sneak, the rest were passes.

Individual Stats:

Blown Blocks:

Wade Smith: 7
Chris Myers: 6
Antoine Caldwell: 3
Joel Dreessen: 3
Eric Winston: 3
Mike Brisiel: 2
Duane Brown: 2
Rashad Butler: 2
Owen Daniels: 2
Vonta Leach: 2
Arian Foster: 2
Jacoby Jones: 1

Amazing what playing some real nose tackles will do for Myers in this stat.

Broken Tackles:

Arian Foster: 16
Steve Slaton: 3
Andre Johnson: 1
Jacoby Jones: 1
Derrick Ward: 1

Arian Foster might be good.

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