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Texans To-Do List vs. St. Louis

Posted Oct 12, 2013

After a week of practice and preparation, the Texans head into Sunday's game against St. Louis with a few strategies to get them a much-needed win.



1. Protect the ball.

Coming off the loss at San Francisco, the Texans had four turnovers in Sunday’s game. Matt Schaub has thrown eight touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. Meanwhile, St. Louis defense forced three turnovers in last week’s 34-20 win over Jacksonville. Defensive end Robert Quinn currently leads the NFC with 5.0 sacks on the season and has a team-high 13 quarterback hits and six tackles for loss.

“Yeah, they’re really good,” head coach Gary Kubiak said about the Rams’ pass rush. “(Chris) Long on one side and 94 (Robert Quinn) on the other side is a great player. He makes some great plays on special teams, knocks balls out and, it seems like every game, he’s knocked the ball out on the quarterback either strip-sack or something. He knocks balls down in the pass game. They’re a very energetic young group, very fast, always a pressure football team.”

2. Run the ball.
Arian Foster should see more carries this Sunday not just because the Texans want to accomplish #1 on this list, but also because if they do so, it means they are not playing from behind. The St. Louis defense is tied for 27th in the NFL in rushing, allowing an average of 126.0 yards on the ground per game. Last year at this time, Foster had six scores through five games. This season he has averaged 4.0 yards per rush and 7.0 yards per reception, but has found the endzone just twice.

A healthy offensive line helps too. Brandon Brooks has been limited in practice but is expected to play on Sunday after missing Sunday’s game against the 49ers with a toe sprain. With Duane Brown fully recovered from his toe sprain and Brooks’ return, all five starting lineman will be back for the first time since Week 2 against Tennessee which was the last time Foster scored a rushing touchdown.

On a side note, Foster, now in his fifth NFL season, is just 89 yards shy of 5,000 rushing yards for his career. If Foster eclipses 5,000 yards in Sunday’s game, he would tie Emmett Smith as the 13-fastest player to do so in NFL history.

3. Force more turnovers.
This one never got checked off of last week’s to-do list. With no forced turnovers against the 49ers, the defense has been focused on finding ways to strip, deflect, or intercept in any way possible. The Texans hope to regain control of Sunday’s game against St. Louis and not play from behind. More passing attempts by Rams quarterback Sam Bradford will equal more opportunities for turnovers for the Texans defense which has just 2 interceptions and 1 fumble through five games.

“I always say, if you’re ahead, you’re going to have a chance for more turnovers,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “They only threw it 15 times last game and only completed six, but you just don’t have as many chances for interceptions when they don’t throw it much. We’ve just got to knock the ball loose. We keep working on those things. They’ll come through for us.”

4. Go deep.
The Texans have not had a completion of 25 yards or greater in the last three games and did not have an attempt greater than 25 yards against San Francisco. Houston has not had success stretching the length of the field for a number of reasons, according to Kubiak.

“Well, when you get behind in this league, people start playing you (differently),” Kubiak said Thursday. “There are some certain coverages that aren’t very conducive to getting the ball way down the field and you don’t have much play-action when you’re 14-21 points behind in football games. So there are a lot of things going on within the course of the type of games we’ve been in that have kept us from being what we want to be. That’s obvious. We’ve got to get back to being what we want to be and that starts with protecting the football.”

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