Why hasn’t the Texans’ running game come to life in 2020?

Mark Lane
·2 min read

The Houston Texans’ running game has hardly come to life through the first seven games of 2020. In fact, it may be more of an inanimate object.

As the Texans have toiled for a 1-6 record, they have tallied 84.9 rushing yards per game, the second-fewest in the NFL. Only the Chicago Bears at 84.1 rushing yards per game have a worse per game average.

Yards per carry is a little better, but the Texans are in the bottom-10 of the league, tied with the Los Angeles Chargers, Washington, and the Buffalo Bills for the sixth-lowest in the NFL.

“I think there are a number of factors that are going into it,” offensive coordinator Tim Kelly explained. “Obviously with the success that we’re having throwing the ball, we’re structured a little bit differently, personnel-wise, as far as that’s concerned.”

The Texans brought in former 2016 All-Pro running back David Johnson to be the bell cow of the rushing offense, but the former Arizona Cardinal has yet to register a 100-yard rushing game. Johnson has a 3.9 yards per carry, and has gone over the 4.0 mark in just two games: Week 1 at Kansas City and Week 5 against Jacksonville.

“Some of the ways that the games have played out really haven’t led to us being able to stick to the run,” Kelly said.

Houston is constantly playing behind this season. As such, they need quarterback Deshaun Watson’s arm to keep them in games and can’t use the run game to protect leads or close games, or the games are getting too far out of hand for the run game to be a credible threat.

Said Kelly: “We’ve got to do a better job schematically of putting our guys in spots to go out there and have more success in the run game. It’s a number of factors. We’ve obviously shown the ability to run the ball at times. You look at the Jacksonville game, we were able to close out the game in a four-minute drive by running the football. We had some success doing it early on against Kansas City and then it’s been sporadic throughout the rest of the season.”

If the Texans can find a way to be more consistent running the football, it could help them get out of the 1-6 hole and find a way to provide another offensive attack alongside Watson. Houston has a whole bye week to figure it out.

“That’s what we’re spending a lot of time this week trying to figure out and trying to figure out the best way to continue to do that for the upcoming games,” said Kelly.

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