HOUSTON -- Instead of making a dent against the NFL’s top-ranked defense, the Houston Texans’ running game left NRG Stadium bruised and empty-handed.
Although the Texans built their roster with a intention of having a strong rushing offense with the presence of three former Pro Bowl running backs and five backs on the roster, the productivity hasn't been there during a two-game losing streak.
During a 24-9 loss at NRG Stadium to the Carolina Panthers and their stout defense, the Texans rushed for only 42 yards on 17 carries for an average of 2.5 yards per carry. Running backs Mark Ingram, David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay gained a combined 37 yards on 15 carries as the running game failed to support rookie quarterback Davis Mills in his first NFL start.
“Obviously, we didn't run the ball very well, and we have to be able to do that,” Texans coach David Culley said. “I think the team we played had a little bit to do with that, also. That's a very good defensive football team. They kind of knew that with a new quarterback in that things were going to be a little bit different than what they had seen previously.”
The Texans (1-2) have run the football 85 times for 284 yards, but are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. Ingram has rushed for 147 yards and one touchdown on 46 carries, an average of 3.2 yards per run.
Lindsay, who has 32 yards on 20 carries, rushed for just five yards on seven carries against Carolina.
“We’ve just got to be better,” Culley said. “We’ve got to play better.”
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The Texans have Rex Burkhead and Scottie Phillips on the roster, but neither player has any carries.
Ingram, Johnson and Lindsay have combined for 77 carries for 225 yards for a 2.92 average per run.
The Texans had the 31st-ranked running game in the NFL last season with Johnson as the primary running back. This season, he has 46 yards on 11 carries and five receptions for 40 yards.
The Texans’ longest run of the season is a 29-yarder from injured quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
“That's a big thing with us,” Culley said. “We have to be able to do that. That's who we are, and I think offensively our biggest ills of the night was the fact that we could not establish any consistency in our run game, and we have got to be able to do that to be successful, to be able to become better in the pass game and to be consistent and stay on the field, and we weren't able to do that.”
In order to improve and win games, the Texans have to figure it out. A running game stuck in neutral has left the Texans with a one-dimensional offense.
“It’s the NFL,” wide receiver Brandin Cooks said. “ Some weeks that's going to happen. Maybe the pass game's struggling, so you need the run game to step up. Run game struggling, you need the pass game to step. We didn't have our best day on the ground, but we have to find a way to get that going and we have to find a way to make up for that in other areas as well.”