However, the ground game has not met expectations at all in 2020, and interim coach Romeo Crennel believes that element has to activate after the bye week to help improve the team’s 1-6 record.
“I think that we have to establish a running game also,” Crennel said. “If we can establish a running game, that pulls linebackers up on the run fake, then you can throw play-action passes. Then you can drop back when you want to rather than when you have to.”
Houston typically has had to drop back “when they have to” because of the deficits they are overcoming or simply because running backs David Johnson and Duke Johnson haven’t been able to threaten defenses. Only in the Week 5 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was Johnson able to average more than 4.0 yards per carry. In five of Houston’s six losses, it has been sub-4.0 for the former 2016 All-Pro.
Similarly for Duke Johnson, in four of his five games played, the former Cleveland Brown has recorded less than 4.0 yards per carry.
Said Crennel: “Because when you drop back when you have to, they know you have to, and they can pin their ears back and bring the heat basically. A couple times in the second half, they were able to do that, which then forced Deshaun to have to pull the ball down and try to run. We’ve seen him be able to make some good runs, but [Sunday the Green Bay Packers] kind of penned him up a little bit as far as his ability to run. I think us doing a better job in the running game will help the passing game.”
The Texans will close their season series with the Jaguars in Week 9 at TIAA Bank Field, and it will be another chance for Houston to get their run game going.