The Houston Texans' run game may be struggling this year, but in all fairness, their offense hasn’t had it easy.
This off-season saw a huge turnover in playing staff, resulting in just five starters returning from last year's unit. If you’re wanting to be ‘glass half full’ about it all then, yes, they brought in some talented players, upgraded certain positions, and added depth where necessary.
But if you take off the rose-tinted glasses, the reality is that no matter how talented the individuals are, it takes time to gel. And in a sport where communication and teamwork are key to success, this hasn't helped them so far.
To put it simply, the offense has been imbalanced.
While the passing offense was promising early on with quarterback Tyrod Taylor and has recently been gaining momentum under rookie Davis Mills, it has had next to no support from the rushers who've contributed just 399 yards in five games.
This isn’t down to a lack of effort, especially from the likes of Mark Ingram who perennially looks like he’s trying to run through the wall of a burning building to save the trapped little kittens inside.
The fact is, regardless of how hard Ingram runs, there are plentiful issues elsewhere. And the reason? You guessed it: Communication, or rather a lack thereof.
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"Some of it’s there, some of it’s play design, some of it’s up front, some of it’s with the back," offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said on Thursday. "Until we can get everybody on the same page and executing at a high level, we’re not going to get the results we want."
Given the responses of his linemen when pressed on the topic this week, it appears that Kelly's message has been heard by his linemen ahead o their divisional matchup against the Indianapolis Colts this week. Loud and clear.
"I think communication and the mental part of the game are one of the most unseen things that people see because if you don’t have communication right, guys can be going anywhere, you leave guys unblocked, one side of the line going one way the other going to this guy," guard Tytus Howard said. "It can create a lot of problems with the run game. So, for the run game you have to communicate to pick up the right guys, and I think this week we made a big emphasis on that."
This response was mirrored by tackle Geron Christian, who said the emphasis this week has been "on the little stuff, taking extra time to take periods throughout practice to work with the running backs or the tight ends, quarterbacks."
A favorite term among coaches is ‘complementary football’ ... the equilibrium between an offense and defense, or in this case the run game and the pass game.
This has been an Achilles heel for the Texans so far this season.
Thankfully, the fact they are all on the same page regarding their issues is a good sign, as is their clear positivity surrounding the improvements they've made this week despite missing the likes of starting linemen Justin Britt, Laremy Tunsil, and Marcus Cannon.
That being said, Rome wasn't built in a day...