The Houston Texans played the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, and it didn’t quite go their way. So how can they ensure that they get back on track Thursday night against the Panthers? Here, we will give you just three of many ways the Texans can get to 2-1.
1. Run the Ball
As stated in my previous article, “Texans 3 Keys to Victory Over Browns”, I wrote that the Texans needed to get their running game going early if they wanted to contend with the Browns. Such is the case against the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers this season have only given up a combined 93 total rushing yards through their first two games of the season, and lead the league in fewest yards allowed in total, which is quite impressive. The Texans however, have ran for a combined 242 yards throughout their first two games as they are averaging roughly 3.5 yards per carry(YPC). If Houston doesn’t want to fall below .500, the running game will need to carry the load due to their passing game suffering an injury to quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Last weeks performance showcased quite a lot for the Texans, especially for their running backs. Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay. Ingram got off to a slow start, but was able to carry the load on key third downs to help keep Houston in the game, and Lindsay did his part in helping out the passing game as he had one touchdown on the day.
With a Rookie QB in Davis Mills assumed to make his first start on Thursday, expect the Texans to run the ball early and often.
2. Hold your Ground on Third Down
The Texans defense last week struggled late in the game with giving up first downs on third down. The Browns rushing attack was something that the Texans really struggled with late in the game. The Texans have a really good defense so far this season as opposed to last years atrocity, they currently have given up seven first downs in 20 attempts.
The Panthers have converted 12 of their 29 third down attempts, which is roughly average. The Texans have shown that they are willing to give up lots of yardage, and points late into the game, which is something they will need to work on if they plan on containing Christian McCaffery.
The Texans defense sits tied at second in turnovers forced, and will have to do just that to slow down the Panthers.
3. Keep the Defense Guessing
Perhaps the best part about the Texans offense this season is their ability to run quick passing plays and play actions. These two types of plays alone helped them keep up with the Browns defense last week. Texans are more than likely going to be playing without starting QB Tyrod Taylor due to Taylor suffering a hamstring injury in last weeks performance. The Texans however, will more than likely turn the ball over to rookie QB Davis Mills.
The quick plays and play action will suit Mills perfectly. Given the weapons the Texans have offensively, quick plays are golden. The Texans will be without wide receivers Danny Amendola and Nico Collins due to injuries that they suffered last week, but star WR Brandin Cooks is all they need.
Cooks has been everything the Texans have needed him to be this season, and with a rookie QB starting, expect him to get the ball often. Play actions will be great to run as well, given that there is a rookie QB under center for the Texans they might be expected to run the ball more often than pass. The Texans can exploit this by calling play actions and taking shots down the field.
Nobody expected the Texans to be able to contend with the Browns last weekend, as they are truly a better team than what many are lead to believe. The Texans shouldn’t have any problems against the Panthers, if they keep doing what they’ve done thus far into the season, they’ll do just fine.
As always you can find me on Twitter @KeganCrawford.
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