HOUSTON -- Tim Kelly returns under new management as the Houston Texans offensive coordinator. This time around, running the ball will be a critical factor to the offensive production.
“Going back and looking at it, I’ve got to do a good job calling more runs and letting our backs and our line get into a rhythm and get into a groove, as far as how that game’s being played out up front,” Kelly says. “Each year, you go into the offseason looking at different schematic ways and personnel ways that you can improve, and we feel like we’ve done that.”
The Texans are coming off one of their worst seasons ever in terms of running the football.. They finished 31st in the league, averaging 4.3 yards per play and scoring a mere 10 times.
Of course, having a balanced offense is essential. But fixing the run can lead to some balance.
Can Houston trust the run in 2021 for a more even approach?
Last season, the Texans didn't have to worry about the run game since Deshaun Watson tore it up in leading the passing attack. Topping the NFL in 2020 with 4,823 passing yards and a franchise-high 33 touchdowns, Houston ranked No. 4 in the league in the air.
The Texans are prepping for life without Watson, who still is facing 22 civil lawsuits of alleged sexual assault and sexual misconduct. Prior to that, the 25-year-old asked for a trade from the organization.
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Even if Watson is placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List or suspended, Watson's time left in Houston seems limited. The team used its first pick at No. 67 to select Stanford's Davis Mills as the future.
For now, it's likely the Tyrod Taylor show at NRG Stadium. But the Texans still need to find a way to to run.
Houston made moves to solidify the run game this offseason. The team restructured Johnson's deal for 2021 and added veteran Mark Ingram. Houston also signed former two-time 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay to a one-year deal.
Following the draft, the Texans added Rex Burkhead, who has close ties with new general manager Nick Caserio. Three of the four runners have made the Pro Bowl at least once since entering the league.
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First-year head coach David Culley is looking for any option to give Mills and Taylor time passing the rock. Pounding it consistently might be the right answer. And with all options on the table, the four-man rotation might be enough to hide the flaws Houston possess as they enter a new regime.
“When those guys are coming off the ball and they’re hitting you in the mouth and you know they’re coming off aggressively and you know they’re establishing that physicality that we want to have, that you’ve got to have when you run the football, that’s invaluable,” Culley said. “Basically, all that does is make the passing game go even better."
That statement could be proven true when the Texans return to NRG Stadium for the start of training camp on July 27. It is then when we will start to see the unveiling of Houston running game that will help deciding the outcomes of real games starting in September.
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