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I Think The Houston Texans Are Going To Run The Outside Zone

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I gotta a hunch.

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Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Last week, I wrote about Zach Fulton, Senio Kelemete, and Seantrel Henderson. During that odyssey, I didn’t talk much about scheme or fit. The point was to try and figure out what these players do well and their overall talent level. Fulton is really good, Kelemete is alright (just too inconsistent), and Henderson is a wreck who hasn’t played in two years.

As I was watching these men play football, an idea came to me. I think the Houston Texans are going to be more of an outside zone team than they have been in the past. From 2015 on, the Texans went from the patented Gary Kubiak outside zone to more of an inside zone/power running scheme. It didn’t work. The Texans ran the ball a lot but were never good at it. They turned Lamar Miller into a plodder and one of the more inefficient backs in football. The offensive linemen Houston had struggled at getting vertical movement on the line of scrimmage.

The linemen the Texans have on the roster now are made for the outside zone. Julie’n Davenport has excellent feet. He has the ability to reach playside defensive ends and clean up the second level.

Fulton excelled in this scheme in Kansas City; he was able to run it as both a center and guard. I’m expecting him to start at right guard for the Texans in 2018.

Kelemete can get to the second level. He can run quick double teams. He can make every block; he just doesn’t do it often enough. His strength will be a good complement to Davenport’s feet. But like Fulton, he blocked a lot of outside zone plays last year.

Nick Martin is above average. He’s scheme-neutral. Reaching and driving the nose tackle is something he did well last year.

Who knows what the hell is going on at right tackle (other than the Texans need to add talent to the position)?

Additionally, it was previously eported that the Texans are going to radically change their offense this season.

“Why put in an entirely different offense? He really told me everybody saw what we did with Deshaun this past season,” Palmer explained on Wednesday’s edition of Up to the Minute Live. “They’re changing things and it’s not even completely put into place yet. They’re still putting it all together.

”And he said the teaching portion of this is going to be the challenge because of Deshaun’s specific skill set that is so different and so lethal at the same time. ... But they are changing things up dramatically on the offensive side of the ball.”

This is something that must happen. Bill O’Brien can’t do the same thing he did last year and expect to have success. Deshaun Watson had an unsustainable touchdown rate in 2017. He’s probably never going to replicate a touchdown rate of 9.3% for the rest of his career, no matter how his career goes from here. This absurd touchdown rate was why the Texans’ offense was as successful as it was in 2017. It can’t be counted on to be the same in 2018.

With the expansion of the offense, Houston’s run game is going to change. It will probably be multi-optional, with Watson having the ability to keep the ball and Houston skipping out on blocking inside linebackers and edge defenders. Regardless, even with these additional planned options, you gotta have a staple. You gotta have a play you can stick to to create positive yards. Because of the players Houston has on their roster now and the report of a changed offense from earlier this offseason, I think the Texans are going to run the outside zone quite a bit this year.