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Kubiak unhappy with running game, special teams


If you watched either of Gary Kubiak's press conferences on Sunday and Monday, you wouldn't know the Texans beat the Miami Dolphins by 20 points in Week 1.

In his Sunday press conference after the game at Reliant Stadium, Kubiak lamented his offense's struggles to run effectively and score touchdowns in the red zone. The Texans' head coach was so upset with the running game, which averaged 2.4 yards per carry against Miami, he said he wouldn't sleep well on Sunday night.

Kubiak wasn't much happier on Monday afternoon. Much of his weekly press conference centered around the Texans' struggles in the running game and on special teams.

"The biggest thing I was disappointed in offensively was how we ran the ball, which wasn't very good at all, and how we finished on the 1-yard line and how we finished the game the last couple drives," Kubiak said. "I think that's a mark of a good team: Everybody knows you've got to run it to finish a game, (and) you still line up and run it. We didn't do that yesterday."

The Texans, who ranked second in the NFL in rushing in 2011, struggled to establish a consistent ground attack against the Dolphins. Arian Foster averaged 3.0 yards per carry on 26 attempts (79 yards). Ben Tate averaged 1.2 yards on five attempts (six yards). The Texans went three-and-out on three of five possessions in the second half after taking a 24-3 halftime lead.

Kubiak said the Texans' problems in the running game were "across the board."

"It starts up front," he said. "It always starts up front. We've got to do all things better: Coach it better, call it better, do it better – backs, wide receivers, tight ends. It's not one thing."

Asked to evaluate new starting right guard Antoine Caldwell, who made his 14th career start on Sunday, and right tackle Derek Newton, who made his first, Kubiak put the focus on the entire offensive line.

"I'm looking at the big picture," Kubiak said. "We didn't run the ball well whether we ran it right, left or up the middle. So when I talk to them I'm talking to all five of them. I'm not talking to right or left, and we've got to play better than we did in the game."

Special teams play was Kubiak's other major concern from Sunday's game. He lamented the Texans' "horrible field position" on their first three possessions, when they started on their own 10-, 5- and 13-yard lines.

Trindon Holliday, who averaged 33.9 yards per kickoff return in the preseason, averaged 15.7 yards per return on Sunday. His longest return went for 19 yards. Kicker Shayne Graham, who didn't miss a single field goal in the preseason, came up short on a 52-yard field goal.

The Texans allowed a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown by Dolphins running back Marcus Thigpen in the third quarter. Thigpen also averaged 27.4 yards per kickoff return on five returns.

"We didn't play good at all (on special teams)," Kubiak said. "We didn't. When you get beat, you have to let things go and go get after the next game. Good teams, when they win, they're able to be hard on themselves. So we have to start today with that. We did not play well on special teams. We didn't cover well. We didn't return well; something that we had been doing pretty consistent during the preseason."

Kubiak said several players need to step up and play a prominent role on special teams. He named two in particular on Monday: rookie outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, the first-round draft pick from Illinois, and second-year inside linebacker Mister Alexander.

"Throughout the course of the preseason, we did protect some of those guys when we're looking at (other) young players, and it showed yesterday," Kubiak said. "I don't think some of the key guys on special teams were on top of their games. We didn't come out of this game feeling very good about how we played, but we make the corrections today and hopefully we're a lot better next week."

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