The Houston Texans will take the field Sunday in Indianapolis already in an 0-3 hole. The 2018 season is quickly hurdling toward the sun, but it says here there are 13 games left on the schedule. A road win against a divisional opponent would be a great way to end an otherwise horrific run to the quarter-pole.
Chris Blystone from Stampede Blue checked in with us to offer up his three reasons why the Houston Texans will prevail. Similarly, I wrote up three reasons why the Colts might win Sunday, leaving the Texans at 0-4 going into a (previously) anticipated national TV match-up against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football next week.
Thanks to Chris and Stampede Blue for the #contentexchange. Let’s see how Chris could envision a possible Texans win at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend:
1. No running game.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Colts can’t run the ball effectively in 2018. There are several reasons for this. First there’s the mess at the offensive tackle positions that have been a result of perpetual injuries. Then there’s the fact that Robert Turbin got himself suspended for PED use and Marlon Mack hurt his hamstring in the first preseason game.
So, with backup offensive linemen on the outside and two rookie running backs, the Colts have understandably struggled. Jordan Wilkins has shown promise. He is a pretty talented running back, but against top quality defensive lines like the Eagles, he never stood a chance. In fact, most backs wouldn’t. The guy can’t run through a solid pile of bodies, so when the line is beat up and not moving the defensive linemen, the running game is done before it starts.
All that would really be fine if the Colts just relied more heavily on the passing game and moved the ball that way like they have in the past, except…
2. No passing weapons.
Okay, so this isn’t strictly true. T.Y. Hilton is downright deadly, but outside of him, the Colts’ primary weapon has been Jack Doyle. Doyle has been largely assigned blocking duty this season because of the aforementioned offensive tackle issues. Regardless, he was still having a productive year. That is, until he hurt his hip and missed last week; he hasn’t practiced at all this week.
Eric Ebron and Ryan Grant have been good contributors to some degree as well. However, they haven’t been big enough that you get the sense that Andrew Luck really trusts them and feels comfortable going to them when the chips are down. Could Ebron have a crazy game and put up big yards? Sure. However, his sample size is still small as a Colt, and relying too heavily on an unproven player to produce is risky.
Chester Rogers has been lukewarm this season so far and hasn’t given the offense any noticeable lift. All these guys are solid when they can be schemed open, but the Eagles proved that a good defense can remove them from the game and put the burden on Andrew Luck to make things happen. He is still getting working on getting his timing and decision making back in line after so long away from football, so that is not an ideal situation.
3. This defense bites.
I don’t mean this as a commentary on the defense being bad. In fact, the Colts’ defense has the look of a team that is building for a greatly improved unit for a long time to come. However, they are very fast and very young. That inexperience, coupled with speed and athleticism, leaves them prone to biting hard on play action.
This is a team that wants to stop the run. Two Colts, Margus Hunt and Darius Leonard, top the list of players in terms of tackles for a loss. These guys want to get penetration into the backfield and disrupt the flow of the game and force turnovers. The problem with that is when you use a player like Deshaun Watson and allow him to run play action and hit DeAndre Hopkins or Will Fuller downfield for big gains, this defense is susceptible to that.
That may not be the case as the season goes on and these players develop. However, this is the perfect time to be facing them, as they are still going to take their lumps, and have put out enough film to make their tendencies known. Players like Hopkins and Fuller could be absolute daggers in this young defense, and using the play action is the easiest way to make sure they are.