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Texans red zone woes not a new problem

Matt Schaub, Gary Kubiak AP

I got involved in a debate this morning about what NFL team has the best offensive line.

There was no consensus, but the Texans got the most votes. I tend to agree, but it’s hard to explain why they struggle so much in the red zone.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle notes that the team especially struggles to run near the end zone. They ran five times for eight yards in the red zone against New Orleans.  In 26 red zone runs this year, the Texans have gained one yard or less 11 times.

The team’s red zone struggles have been alarming this year.  They have three touchdowns in 13 trips.

It’s not like this is a new problem for Gary Kubiak’s team.  For the last three years, the team has on average ranked third in the league in yards gained.  They have averaged 12th in points scored.

They are a better fantasy offense than reality offense, and we’re not exactly sure why.  Does their zone blocking work less in tight quarters?  Is it all Arian Foster? (Houston was much better in the red zone than usual last year.)

Whatever the reason, Kubiak needs to fix it to avoid being the same old inefficient Texans.

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32 Responses to “Texans red zone woes not a new problem”
  1. redrifle14 says: Sep 27, 2011 2:08 PM

    Texans 2011 = miss the playoffs yet again.

  2. trbowman says: Sep 27, 2011 2:10 PM

    The common denominator is Matt Schaub

  3. jpb12 says: Sep 27, 2011 2:11 PM

    Weird how a former offensive coordinator can not score in his new gig… (Brian Billick)… or a defensive coordinator (Belichick) can have a sucky defense..

  4. snowpea84 says: Sep 27, 2011 2:14 PM

    The best O-line in football? The Jets.

  5. cliverush says: Sep 27, 2011 2:17 PM

    The QB is of the hot and cold variety. Give him room and he shines, put him in limited space and he suddenly gets very dull.

  6. ajknox88 says: Sep 27, 2011 2:17 PM

    Fade routes to Andre for 3 straight plays. It works for the Lions and Calvin.

  7. southpaw2k says: Sep 27, 2011 2:20 PM

    Uhh Detroit anyone? Matthew Stafford has yet to be sacked this season. Their O-line has to be doing something right in order to do that.

  8. pitofzombies94 says: Sep 27, 2011 2:24 PM

    He got sacked like 4 times against the Vikings

  9. ajknox88 says: Sep 27, 2011 2:24 PM

    southpaw2k says:
    Sep 27, 2011 2:20 PM
    Uhh Detroit anyone? Matthew Stafford has yet to be sacked this season. Their O-line has to be doing something right in order to do that.
    _________

    Vikings sacked him 5 times on sunday and hit him 7 more times

  10. thekingdave says: Sep 27, 2011 2:27 PM

    The problem is two fold. For one, with the short field many of the Texans passing plays such as the naked bootleg are useless. More importantly it’s the lack of a power back. They were fine last year with Foster. Flash forward to now with Ben Tate and the red zone woes are eerily similar to the ones in 08 and 09 with Slaton running the rock.

  11. itstariq says: Sep 27, 2011 2:33 PM

    We were a little better in the red zone last season with Foster and various possibilities with him. The first TD play with the 3 TE set was great and creative, but it seems like we become one-track at times inside the 20, focused too much on the pass or too much on the run and we forget about Andre Johnson.

    Also, I’d say the o-line has been a bit shaky on Winston’s side when it comes to pass protection.

  12. southpaw2k says: Sep 27, 2011 2:35 PM

    ajknox88 says:
    Sep 27, 2011 2:24 PM
    southpaw2k says:
    Sep 27, 2011 2:20 PM
    Uhh Detroit anyone? Matthew Stafford has yet to be sacked this season. Their O-line has to be doing something right in order to do that.
    _________

    Vikings sacked him 5 times on sunday and hit him 7 more times

    ———————————————

    Whoops. Maybe I should’ve checked myself fo’ I wrecked myself.

  13. fmiller79 says: Sep 27, 2011 2:47 PM

    It is the Denver style zone running scheme. Look at the teams that have or do run it, they have historically done poor in short yardage and goal line situations. The scheme depends on getting the defense moving in a certain direction, in a compressed goal line area it is harder to get the defense moving.

  14. dukemarc says: Sep 27, 2011 2:49 PM

    Vikings sacked him 5 times on sunday and hit him 7 more times
    —————————————–
    And they laid out the blueprint for beating that subpar line – well, at least for a half they did.

  15. rskills says: Sep 27, 2011 2:57 PM

    The Redskins’ red zone issues are far worse! They’ve been settling for field goals since Marty ball.

  16. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Sep 27, 2011 2:59 PM

    JESUS!! Thank you!!! They’ve always sucked in the redzone, I went off all sunday about how the texans can never EVER do anything in the redzone. Personally I think, its Andre getting covered up in the redzone and the texans have no one else to really go to. I don’t believe walter/owens have the speed to separate in the redzone. O and Kubiak sucks at redzone offense, they need to spend all fri-sat practice in redzone play mode. YOU GUYS CAN MOVE THE BALL UP AND DOWN THE FIELD ON ANYONE!!! Practice the redzone offense already jesus!!

  17. dboskie says: Sep 27, 2011 3:29 PM

    thekingdave says:
    Sep 27, 2011 2:27 PM
    The problem is two fold. For one, with the short field many of the Texans passing plays such as the naked bootleg are useless. More importantly it’s the lack of a power back. They were fine last year with Foster. Flash forward to now with Ben Tate and the red zone woes are eerily similar to the ones in 08 and 09 with Slaton running the rock.
    ————————————————–
    Lack of a power back? Are you kidding. What the heck do you think Tate is. He is much bigger than Slaton and he prefers to run over guys than make him miss. Here is the deal. Foster is the only back on the team that can a. Run over a guy if he has to. b. juke a guy if he has to. c. do both and also excel in pass blocking when teams like to blitz. d. get open in the flat or across the middle as a mismatch with a linebacker and catch the ball. NONE of the other backs offer all of these options when they are on the field. That is why Kubiak is so impatient with getting Foster back on the field.

  18. dboskie says: Sep 27, 2011 3:30 PM

    Lions Fans – Your line is brutal against any defense with any juice. Hence 5 sacks against the queens.

  19. psmith7716 says: Sep 27, 2011 3:35 PM

    Houston may get well this week against my Steelers. Pitt sure doesn’t look like the same defense we have had the past number of years.

  20. quiettexan says: Sep 27, 2011 3:35 PM

    foster was much more patient in the red zone. tate doesn’t allow blocks to develop and forces things too much. the “experts” who keep saying arian and tate are identical runners don’t make sense to me.

  21. philrat says: Sep 27, 2011 3:47 PM

    Nick Scurfield compares the Texans’ red zone stats from 2011 to 2010 at the Texans’ website http://www.houstontexans.com/news/article-3/Amid-red-zone-woes-Kubiak-hopeful-on-Foster-for-Week-4/b321e9a7-5928-469d-bb18-708df20fc087.

  22. ajknox88 says: Sep 27, 2011 3:47 PM

    dboskie says:
    Sep 27, 2011 3:30 PM
    Lions Fans – Your line is brutal against any defense with any juice. Hence 5 sacks against the queens.
    _______

    I’m going to disagree only because when they got to Stafford it was on where they brough more than 2 blitzers minus the times when Jared Allen got to Stafford. Backus had a weak game no doubt, but for the past year I think he gave up less than 5 sacks or something similar. Sunday he gave up 3 sacks to Allen. It could be that you’re right, but more than likely it was just a bad outing for him.

  23. txtuff says: Sep 27, 2011 3:49 PM

    The biggest problem and I don’t know why he does it but Gary Kubiak will not call aggressive plays in the red zone or when they get up by any amount of points. All that aside when your D gives up 40 points you are suppose to lose!

  24. kingkreg12 says: Sep 27, 2011 3:49 PM

    It is clearly a combination of things on this one. Foster being out does hurt since he has a hard nosed running style great for breaking the plane, but don’t forget that Matt Schaub really just isn’t that good.

    Andre Johnson has been masking the mediocrity of Schaub for year in Houston. Does anyone else find it strange that a beast like Andre Johnson has never touched double digit TDs in his career? Watch Schaub attempt to get him the ball in the redzone… it’s quite humorous.

    It’s a little play calling, a little Foster and a lot of Schaub… circus catches downfield on underthrown balls will make any QB look good, but when a defense can bracket a guy like Johnson in the endzone- Schaub’s the one who needs to step up with a perfect throw and more often than not he just doesn’t

  25. leftcoastnative says: Sep 27, 2011 3:59 PM

    Red Zone running is a bit more difficult because the depth of the secondary, especially the safeties, is reduced due to the lack of a vertical field and they become more of an immediate factor in filling gaps in the run game.

    Therefore, potentially an offense is looking at 9 defenders to fill 7 or 8 gaps.

    Play action passes are effective because you can make the safeties bite on the play action and eliminate them from coverage. With the Texans WR, play action should be a great weapon in the RZ.

    You have to spread the formation and pull the safeties out of the box to run effectively or if you are employing a closed formation, you need a lead back or an H-back as an escort for the ball carrier, and you don’t need slow developing runs.

  26. nabz034 says: Sep 27, 2011 4:01 PM

    southpaw2k says:
    Sep 27, 2011 2:20 PM
    Uhh Detroit anyone? Matthew Stafford has yet to be sacked this season. Their O-line has to be doing something right in order to do that.

    I’m a Lions Fan and I think the only possible explanation for this comment is that you were in a coma for week 3, and if thats the case you missed a really great game.

    Hope you recover soon :)

  27. Andre's Johnson says: Sep 27, 2011 4:11 PM

    The red zone stuff is a combination of several things. But it’s not all Matt Schaub’s fault.

    Schaub’s not elite, but certainly more than one-half (maybe even two-thirds) of the teams in the NFL would trade their starting QB (even if they wouldn’t admit) for Schaub right now.

    Schaub would start for the…

    Seahawks
    49ers
    Chiefs
    Broncos
    Raiders
    Titans
    Vikings
    Bears
    Jets
    Dolphins
    Jags
    Colts
    Panthers
    Browns
    Bengals
    Eagles
    Redskins

    all right now.

    Then he’d arguably start for the Ravens, Giants, Cowboys, Bucs, Falcons, and Bills, too.

    Go ahead and hate, but you know he’s better than average and would replace most QB’s in the league.

  28. phillyahole says: Sep 27, 2011 4:16 PM

    Sit down Tate sit down! Goodbye Slaton seeya! The Arian Nation is taking over!

  29. watermelon1 says: Sep 27, 2011 4:43 PM

    They should be throwing jump balls for Andre Johnson in the red-zone a lot more often. No corner is big enough to go up in the air with him. As someone already stated… Calvin Johnson does it and the Lions finally learned this. Schaub just needs to work on perfecting the timing/arc/accuracy of nice jump ball with Andre. It’s really a much safer play than running it anyway.

  30. kingokra says: Sep 27, 2011 5:22 PM

    C’mon now, that Saints’ defense is STOUT! No one can score in the red zone against it. Dude, they have real wizards casting spells and stuff.
    They are money in the red zone. Look it up. You are getting very sleepy…

  31. realfootballfan says: Sep 27, 2011 6:16 PM

    You answered your own question, the zone blocking isn’t built for powering in the football in close quarters. The only way that you overcome that problem is by having a truly great back like the Broncos had with Terrell Davis or a great QB, which the Broncos also had with John Elway.

    Tate and Foster are good, but I doubt if anyone would call them elite. Heck, one guy has virtually replaced the other, and they haven’t missed a beat. Furthermore, Schaub is good, but hardly elite.

    It’s finesse football, and it ultimately would surprise me if it stands up to physical teams. Houston will have more problems than people think when they play both the Jaguars and Titans in division for this reason.

  32. uwsptke says: Sep 27, 2011 6:28 PM

    Gregg, it’s pretty well established that zone-blocking teams (those who run it in its purest form) struggle mightily as they get close to the goal line

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