Reporting Mike Meltser
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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – In Sunday night’s blowout loss to the Packers, the Texans had their worst rushing day of the season. Star running back Arian Foster was bottled up for 29 yards on only 17 carries, a terrible performance against a Green Bay defense playing without nose tackle BJ Raji.
Houston’s rushing offense has been sort of a mixed bag this season. The Texans rank 6th in the NFL in both overall rushing yards and rushing yards per game. However, more troublesome is what they do on a per-play basis: 3.8 yards. That’s 23rd(!) in the NFL, and not nearly good enough for a team that fashions itself as a ground-based, play-action football team.
Taking a look at the last three games, Houston has averaged 3.1 yards per run against the Titans, and 3.2 against the Packers. Two bad performances. Against the Jets, Foster had 152 rushing yards, but 46 came on 1 play. Removing that one play (which was very-well blocked, to be fair), and Houston averaged 3.6 yards per carry. That number, mind you, comes against a Jets defense that was sliced and diced by the 49ers eight days earlier.
A lot of fingers have been pointed to the right side of the offensive line, with newcomers Antoine Caldwell and Ben Jones at right guard, and Derek Newton and Ryan Harris at right tackle. Clearly, the transition has been turbulent at times on that side. However, the left side needs to play better as well, and that begins with center Chris Myers.
Against Green Bay, Foster had no room up the middle, even with Raji sitting out the game. Part of being an elite football team is being able to take advantage of matchups, and the interior offensive line failed to do so. I think Myers is a terrific player and one of the best centers in the NFL, but the overall inconsistencies of the rushing attack can’t all be due to the right side of the offensive line.
On Sunday, Myers faces one of the NFL’s best defensive players in Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. He’s massive, powerful, and quick. Even with Ngata, Baltimore allowed 227 yards on the ground to the Cowboys, as Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray were able to find tons of creases. Myers needs to lead this offensive line to do the same kind of damage the Dallas line was able to inflict.
No Ray Lewis, no Lardarius Webb, and no excuses for the Texans to put together a big-time game on the ground. Foster should be fresh (it feels like he barely played against the Packers), and Ben Tate will be healthier. Many will be looking for bounce-back efforts on defense for Houston, but the onus is on Myers and Duane Brown to punish Baltimore on the ground.