Every week this season, I'm going to attempt to play the role of
alcohol-fueled blogger strategist and focus in on a match-up or area that I believe will be key for the success of your Houston Texans on Sunday (or those rare Thursday and Monday games).
For Week One, I would like to see Arian Foster, his back-ups, and the offensive line take over and dominate the Colts defense. Why are the running backs key to this game? The answers are just a JUMP away...
Luckily, the Texans have the talent to run that kind of offense. Arian Foster is a bigger running back who attacks the hole hard and fast with his impressive weightspeed. He averaged six yards per carry in the pre-season, and a similar effort could control the game and make the play-action pass more deadly than it was in 2009. As for screen passes, Steve Slaton may not be the Slaton of old, but he is still the ideal running back for the screen given how well he can move in space. Of course, all of this is useless without an offensive line.
With Kasey Studdard being replaced by Wade Smith and Antoine Caldwell being more experienced, the offensive line is definitely stronger than last season. In this game, the Texans offensive line should also have a strength advantage as they outweigh the starting Colts defensive line by 25 pounds, averaged according to official roster pages. This weight advantage should help on the initial push at the first level. While some BRBers criticize the line, there can be no denying that these offensive linemen block on the move as well as anyone else in the league. If you combine that fact with the fact that those speedy Tampa-2 linebackers traditionally play a tad bit deeper than normal LBs, you'll arrive at the conclusion where running right between the tackles, using the draw play, and throwing screen passes would be very effective calls because the Texans should get into the second and third levels for big gains until the Colts are forced to adjust from their scheme. If the Texans can execute with the backs, then the Indy defense could be slowed down, run over, and worn out (especially if the roof is open to allow that wondrous Texas humidity in).
Let's not forget the advantage that a ball-control, running back-heavy offensive gameplan gives the defense. Yes, Peyton Manning can score a touchdown on any given play, but how many times have you seen him impatiently pacing on the sideline when an opposing offense is playing ball-control offense? He gets impatient because his offense isn't allowed to really get into a rhythm or control the pace of the game. As far as I'm concerned, an impatient Manning is better than a comfortable Manning. Given the youth on the Texan defense, the best Houston defense against Peyton Manning is to minimize his opportunities on the field.
If the Texans are smart, we'll see Foster run against the smaller defensive line with Slaton screens on the outside. The running back heavy gameplan is what I'd like to see the Texans do on offense to attack the Colts and control the game. How about you, faithful BRBers? What do you want to see?