TheSTN – NFL: Balance On Offense Leads To Success For Texans

NFL defenses present complex schemes in an attempt to confuse and disrupt offenses. One method offenses use to counter is a balanced approach that leaves defenses guessing.

The Houston Texans, who sit atop the AFC with a 9-1 record, certainly believe in balance. Through Week 11, Houston has the best run-to-pass ratio in the NFL this season (50.1 rush/49.9 pass). That balance will be tested again this week when the Texans travel to Detroit to face the Lions on Thanksgiving (CBS, 12:30 PM ET).

Houston’s versatility on offense has been on display the past two weeks. In Week 10, Houston relied on running back ARIAN FOSTER to rush for 102 yards against a stingy Bears defense in the Texans’ 13-6 win at Chicago. Foster leads the AFC with 949 rushing yards this season.

In Week 11, Houston turned to quarterback MATT SCHAUB and wide receiver ANDRE JOHNSON in the Texans’ 43-37 overtime win against Jacksonville. Schaub passed for 527 yards, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer WARREN MOON (December 16, 1990) for the second-most passing yards in a game in NFL history, while Johnson had a career-high 273 yards on 14 receptions, including a 48-yard game-winning TD catch.

“It is part of our identity,” says Schaub on the Texans’ balanced offense. “It’s how we operate. We can control the ball and put drives together. It’s just something that we need to stay true to our plan and who we are.”

The teams that are closest to a 50-50 run-to-pass ratio this season: 

TEAM

TOTAL PLAYS

RUSH PCT.

PASS PCT.

PCT. DIFF.

Houston Texans

698

50.1

49.9

0.3

San Francisco 49ers

599

50.4

49.6

0.8

Washington Redskins

626

50.5

49.5

1.0

Kansas City Chiefs

676

47.2

52.8

5.6

Chicago Bears

620

46.6

53.4

6.8

 

The Texans balanced offense starts up front with a productive ground game that utilizes a zone-blocking scheme.

“We feed off our running game,” says Schaub. “We try to make everything look the same, whether it’s a run or pass. When the offensive line is as aggressive in the pass as they are in the run, it really sells to the defense that we’re trying to run the ball. That in turn, will help our receivers get open down the field and create big plays.”

NFL Network analyst and former NFL head coach STEVE MARIUCCI is a believer in the Texans’ zone-blocking scheme.  Mariucci says the Texans have all the right pieces to master the scheme.

“That zone-run scheme is the scheme that head coach GARY KUBIAK was involved in at Denver with MIKE SHANAHAN and ALEX GIBBS, and brought it to Houston,” says Mariucci. “He has the offensive line to do it, he has the running back to do it right now, and it’s a great run-game scheme for play action and movement passes. They go hand in hand together.”

The teams with the most rushing yards per game since 2011:

TEAM RUSH YARDS PER GAME
Minnesota Vikings

147

Houston Texans

146.7

San Francisco 49ers

142.3

Denver Broncos

141.7

Philadelphia Eagles

134.3

 

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