Texans coach David Culley stresses the importance of run defense against the Browns

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HOUSTON — After starting the season off on a great note following a 37-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Houston Texans will look to make it two straight wins on Sunday when they take on the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.

It’s a daunting task many are deeming impossible, especially with the Browns seeking their first victory of the season after losing 33-29 to the Kansas City Chiefs. But first-year coach David Culley isn’t oblivious to the challenges of slowing down the Browns’ dynamic offense.

“Offensively, they have a lot of weapons,” Culley said. “They have a very good quarterback and probably the best two combo running backs in the game. They have skills all over the place. It’s a big challenge.”

Culley emphasized that stopping the run is the most important defensive scheme for Houston. Led by the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns rushed for 153 yards on 26 attempts in the loss against the Chiefs. Chubb and Hunt accounted for a combined 116 yards on 21 carries.

Since Lovie Smith took over as the new defensive coordinator, the Texans have shown significant improvements to their run defense when compared to the prior season. During Houston’s 10-7 loss to the Browns last November, the Texans gave up 231 yards on the ground. Chubb and Hunt each rushed for over 100 yards.

Although much enhanced, Culley saw some flaws in Houston’s run defense during their Week 1 victory over the Jaguars.

“Assignment wise, I thought a couple of times we got out of our gaps, and we gotta play gap control defense,” he said. “They [Jacksonville] popped a couple of runs on us when we were out of our gaps, and we gotta correct that. Once we do that, we’ll become more consistent.”

Culley and the Texans will receive some assistance in their run defense with the return of defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson. He was a prominent piece to the Texans’ defensive enhancements, mainly in stopping the run, as Houston held their preseason opponents to an average of 65.3 yards in rushing.

According to Culley, the Texans are very fortunate to have Johnson back as they prepare for an opponent Houston deems as a playoff-caliber team.