CBS Houston – This Sunday the Houston Texans will be coming back home to the comfy confines of NRG stadium. But what will await them is the tough task of trying to stop the Tennessee Titans on the ground.
“They’re doing a great job running the ball,” head coach Bill O’Brien said of the Titans rushing offense, “they’re a downhill running team.”
This season the Titans dual-threat rushing attack of rookie Derrick Henry and veteran DeMarco Murray, is pounding the ball for 128 yards a game and their average of 5.1 yards a carry is good enough for third best in the NFL.
Leading the way is Murray who, in his first season with the team, is carrying the ball for six yards a carry which is good enough for fourth-best in the NFL.
“(Murray) is doing an excellent job,” O’Brien said. “He’s running hard, he breaks tackles, he’s got good vision, he’s an excellent running back.”
While the Texans defense has done well overall this season, the run defense has been a sore spot on the team. The defense as a whole is the fifth best in the league, but the run defense is among the worst in the league allowing 125.7 yards a game on the ground which is the seventh most in the NFL.
“It’s always room for improvement, nobody’s perfect,” Benardrick McKinney said of the team’s rush defense, “we just look at film, watch film and try to correct what we messed up on.”
Stopping the run for the team has been hard all year long and now they will have to do it without all-pro defensive end J.J. Watt. It won’t be easy but the team will need everyone to contribute on all three levels of the defense in order to slow the Titans.
Everyone will have a job to do even the corners who’ll have to set the edge when receivers are trying to block them.
“We definitely have to be aware of the style of offense that they play,” Kevin Johnson said, “they definitely are going to try and run the ball cause they got some great running backs so we have to be aware of crack replacing and fitting in the run.”
One of the easier things that the team can improve on is tackling, during the team’s loss to the New England Patriots in the last game it was a sore spot. The team allowed multiple Patriots to get extra yards with poor tackling.
Earlier in the week, linebacker Whitney Mercilus admitted warping up ball carriers is something that the team needed to get better at.
“We’ve already played three games, so by now we should be good at tackling,” Whitney Mercilus said, “but that’s something that we definitely need to improve on, judging from last game.”
The Texans won’t face the speediest of backs in Murry and Henry, but they are among some of the most bruising backs they will face this year.
The team knows what they need to do to be successful against the run, but if they aren’t able to tackle and stop the run it could be a long day for the team.
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