At one point this season it seemed that the Houston Texans were fully committed to bringing back the old-school ground-and-pound offensive game that would seek to bruise defenses in the running game instead of relying on their inefficient quarterbacks to move the ball upfield. Now, after taking nine losses in 11 games, the team seems to have reversed course, giving rookie phenom Dameon Pierce just 15 carries in their last two matchups combined.
This is a clear move away from the running game, which had served them well over the early part of the season, and head coach Lovie Smith was asked about what spurred the change in the team’s Wednesday press conference. Though he didn’t blame Pierce, Smith made it clear that the production on the ground just hadn’t inspired his staff to force the issue on the ground offensively.
“In an ideal world, I think we’ve seen how we would like to mix it up, run-pass,” Smith said. “We want to have balance. When you get behind like that, it’s hard to have balance. No fault in how we did it. We had to complete more passes. That wasn’t a day to worry about how many carries a running back is going to get. We’re just trying to get some production some kind of way. You get into a game, you have a gameplan coming in, but that gameplan can change at any time. I had no problem with what we’re trying to do that last game.”
Though Smith may feel justified in his decisions relative to this issue, fans are sure to continue wondering why the Texans have totally changed their offensive identity over the course of two weeks. It would make more sense if the new strategies were working, but with losses piling up and nothing seeming to change, Houston may be wise to get back to their core offensive competency and put the ball in the hands of their most explosive playmaker as much as possible.