The Houston Texans are hungry. They want to chew clock and spit it out when the game is over, particularly on the road. That’s part of the reason why they’re 2-0 and the 6th best running team in the league entering the third week of the season against the Denver Broncos.
“We ran the ball last week well on the road which in this business, when you go on the road, you’ve got to protect the ball and build a run,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said in a conference call Wednesday.
In week one, the Texans held onto the ball for 34 minutes 44 seconds in their 30-10 win over the Miami Dolphins. In week two, they possessed the ball for 43 minutes 17 seconds in their 27-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“We feel like they’re one of the better run teams in this league,” Broncos linebacker Keith Brooking said. “They’ve been in that system a long time, especially their core players.”
Arian Foster was a top tier back in 2011, averaging 94.2 yards per contest. He led the Texans in rushing week one with 79 yards on 26 carries and 2 touchdowns. He also put up 110 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown in week two. It’s hard to believe that Foster went undrafted.
“I just think sometimes good players like that will slip through the cracks, probably no better example than T.D. (Terrell Davis) when we were there in Denver,” Kubiak said. “T.D.’s senior year was not what he had expected or Georgia had expected. He goes and plays in a blue-grey game. We’re watching him and we say ‘This is a good-looking player.’ He ends up being a 6th round draft choice. I just think that you’ve got to do your work on everybody, and then I think there are guys that are really driven and maybe don’t have the success in college, but they have the abililty to show at the next level, ‘I can do this.'”
The guy that helped propel the Texans up the board in the running game in week two was third year back out of Auburn, Ben Tate. Tate had 74 yards on 12 carries and 2 touchdowns.
This combination presents a deadly threat for the Broncos who have been relatively good at stopping the run. The Texans employ a successful zone-blocking scheme. Brooking is very familiar with the style of ground game because Mike Shanahan’s Washington Redskins have run it in the past when Brooking was a Dallas Cowboy.
“You have to be patient,” Brooking said. “The gaps move quickly ,so you have to be sound in your responsibility. You have to know where you’re leverage is as far as your help is in the run game, as far as if you’re bringing the safety down or you’re not. More than anything is just attacking. They want to kind of get you running sideways and then cut down hill, so you have to take the attack to them.”
The Texans are great at getting to the edge and bursting for big gains, but then again, they haven’t taken on a run defense as strong as the Broncos this season. Denver is 7th against the run, giving up 71.0 yards per game.
“They’re one of the best defenses in the NFL,” Foster said. “They’re so quick and fast. They’re fun to watch.”
Fun is a relative term, especially come Sunday.