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Texans v. Vikings Review: Bigger Problem—Coaching Or Talent?

Capt Ron raises the question about whether the Texans are struggling due to talent or coaching. Join the conversation on Battle Red Blog.

Kansas City Chiefs v Houston Texans
The problem?
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images


After reviewing the "adjusted line yards" data from Football Outsiders, it clearly suggests--at the risk of stating the obvious--that Lamar Miller and the Houston Texans’ running game is struggling.

The question comes down to this: Is the scouting department for the Texans (led by Rick Smith) wrong for bringing in Lamar Miller, or is the coaching (play design and play calling) more to blame for the overall struggle in production?

Sure, we can point the finger at Lamar Miller for having bad measurable stats in terms of not breaking enough tackles compared to other running backs with 100+ touches, but if the opposing defense isn't fooled by Houston's offensive play calling, what chance does any running back have in this system?


This brings back the burning question of whether it’s the talent on the roster, or the plan and execution that keeps this team from performing each week. I don't buy into that defensive misdirection that the Texans are 3-2 and there is a lot of football yet to be played, because the Texans have not looked convincing in execution in any of the games so far this season.

Just for fun, what if you swapped coaching staffs of Houston and Minnesota for 2016? Would the Texans be performing better overall? Would Mike Zimmer have the Texans' defense ranked as best in the league through five games? Would Norv Turner be able to implement a game plan that this offense could execute more successfully than whatever it is you call that mess being orchestrated by Bill O'Brien and George Godsey?

As much as I have criticized Rick Smith for the personnel decisions he has been responsible for as the team’s general manager, I'm going to suggest that the biggest issue right now for Houston is coaching. I'd bet that the Vikings under O'Brien and company would be lucky to have one or two wins on the season at this point after losing Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson. I can actually envision Sam Bradford's wildly confused face at the line of scrimmage while he runs this so-called complex offensive decision tree through his head while reading a defense. I'd also bet that Zimmer's crew would have the Texans looking more competitive in each game, with a decent chance of being undefeated. Yes, including that tilt against a Brady-less Patriots team.

The bottom line is that this offensive program simply isn't working for Houston, and it likely wouldn't work for 30 other NFL teams. Furthermore, the Texans’ system doesn’t really look much like what the Patriots run either.  Put the "pistol" back in the gun safe!  O'Brien needs to come up with a scheme that his players can execute efficiently, consistently, and that gives the Texans a competitive opportunity against their opponents.

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