The Houston Texans nearly came away with a win on the road against the New England Patriots. It took a final drive by Tom Brady for New England to come away victorious and leave Houston feeling deflated. These are the five keys to shake off the bitter defeat and come away victorious this week against the Tennessee Titans.
1. Continue to Involve Secondary Receivers
Backup tight end Ryan Griffin caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown and backup wide receiver Bruce Ellington caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. The involvement of secondary options in the receiving game gave the Texans a chance to win last Sunday. Deshaun Watson must continue to involve these receivers to give Houston their best chance to win against Tennessee.
2. Pressure Marcus Mariota
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has only been sacked twice this season, the Texans defense has only sacked the opposing quarterback eight times. This week is not an optimal matchup for their disappointing pass rush. Mariota is mobile and can escape pressure which will cause problems for Houston defensively. Houston must be able to contain and pressure Mariota consistently to potentially get sacks and possibly turnovers.
3.Contain Tennessee’s Rushing Attack
Tennessee ran all over the Seattle defense last Sunday which is a cause for concern for an average Houston rush defense. Tennessee rushed 35 times for 195 yards and one touchdown. DeMarco Murray lead the way with 14 rushes for 115 yards and one touchdown and continues to enjoy his revival in Tennessee. Houston will have problems if they are unable to contain the rushing attack of the Titans. Stopping their running game will be essential to coming out victorious on Sunday.
4. Improved Performance in the Defensive Backfield
Tom Brady carved up the Texans defense last week and exposed them like few quarterbacks in the NFL can. Brady was 25-35 for 378 yard and five touchdowns and made Houston’s defense look helpless. Marcus Mariota is not Tom Brady but is more than capable of taking advantage or poor secondary play. Mariota took advantage of Seattle’s defensive backfield last week and they are considered to be a much superior unit. It could be a long day for Houston’s defensive backs.
5. Continue the Running Back by Committee Approach
One thing is abundantly clear, there is not one running back on the Texans roster who is capable of handling the vast majority of carries. Carries have been split between Lamar Miller, Deshaun Watson and D’Onta Foreman. Miller has received more carries than the others but has not been entirely effective. As long as the Texans continue to spread out the carries and get good production overall form the players who carry the ball they will have a chance to win against Tennessee.
Houston must contain the Tennessee rushing attack and pressure Marcus Mariota. The defense must also not get torched by Mariota, limiting the amount of yards gained through the air by Tennessee will be crucial to containing the Titans offense. Offensively Houston must continue the running back by committee approach and involving the secondary receivers. If Houston can successfully execute these five keys they can get back to .500 on the season.