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Houston Texans

Texans at Dolphins | 5 Things to Watch

The Texans (1-8-1) head to South Florida for a Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins (7-3). Here are five things to watch when clubs kick off at noon inside Hard Rock Stadium.

1) QB switch – The news of the week was the change at quarterback. On Friday, Head Coach Lovie Smith announced Kyle Allen would take over the starting duties from Davis Mills. Since entering the NFL in 2018, Allen's started 17 games, completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,318 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 17 picks.

"You're always looking for the best option that gives you the best chance to win," Smith said. "That's where we are right now."

Despite the switch, Smith emphasized the need for improvement all around for the Texans to get another win.

"There are a lot of other things that we have to do better," Smith said. "Protection has to be better, no matter who our quarterback is. Hopefully that will be the case, and it will give us a better chance to win football games. That's where we are."

Allen, meanwhile, is "grateful" for the opportunity and detailed what he must do.

"We need to execute and we just need to make plays," Allen said. "I think situational football is going to be huge. I think we've struggled in the situational football a bunch, so hopefully we can be good in third-down, red zone, two-minute and stuff like that. I think those areas are really important in the game and I think we can improve in those areas. But for me personally, I'm just trying to execute and do what I can do to help the team."

2) Re-boot run game – One key way to help Allen and the offense roll would be for the run game to bounce back from an uncharacteristic performance last Sunday. Dameon Pierce was limited to eight yards on 10 carries, and the Texans mustered 21 yards on 16 carries as an offense. That must improve Sunday.

Pierce said he and the offense need to "just make our plays" to get going again, and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton explained how his side of the ball can overcome a struggle to run the ball.

"You just have to come up with ways – we're going to be able to run the football, in which way we decide to attack the defense," Hamilton said. "Whether it's a downhill run, or it's a perimeter run, or we're in a situation where we have to use other methods of getting the ball out on the perimeter."

The Dolphins defense is giving up 4.6 yards per carry on the ground. Pierce has averaged 4.5 per rush attempt.

3) Explosive passing game – The Dolphins can light it up through the air. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has tossed 18 touchdowns and been picked off just three times this season. He's completing 71 percent of his passes, and he has one of the premier pass-catchers in the NFL with Tyreek Hill. Toss in explosive wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki, and the Dolphins passing attack is potent.

"They have a balanced attack," Smith said. "They have a quarterback that's playing at an elite level right now. I'll say there are some special players in the league. There's a lot of good players in the league, and then there's some special players in the league. I think they have a special player the league. Everything around the passing game is a little different than maybe some week-to-week, and our guys realize that."

Hill's needed just 10 games to crack the 1,100-yard mark for receiving on the season, and he's already logged 81 catches. Waddle, meanwhile, is averaging 17.2 yard per catch, already has 800-plus receiving yards, and shares the team lead in touchdown receptions with Gesicki at six.

Texans defensive back Desmond King, II knows the challenge ahead for him and his defensive teammates.

"They're rolling right now," King said. "They're doing what they were expected to do. I'm going to say our key is to not give up the deep ball against them. They've got Tyreek, they've got Waddle, so we know what's going to come with that."

4) Don't forget their run – The Texans defense has struggled against the run in 2022, and faces a new challenge this week with Miami. With all the weapons in the passing game, the Dolphins have some dynamic backs in Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. The former is good for 4.6 yards per carry, while the latter has picked up 6.5 yards per attempt since coming to town before Week 9. Two weeks ago, Wilson exploded for 119 yards on 17 carries, and also caught a pair of passes for 24 yards.

"You see dynamic backs," Texans defensive lineman Maliek Collins said. "Backs that can run routes. Backs that are elusive in space. We've got to run to the ball. We've got to tackle. We need all 11 guys in the picture on defense. When we come back and watch that film, we need all 11 guys showing up and going to get the ball out."

5) Get the ball back – When these two teams met last season, the Texans took the ball away five times. They turned it over four times, also, but on the whole this season, Houston's not come up with takeaways.

Collins described how he's taking that upon himself to change.

"One takeaway from the last game is that we have to take the ball away," Collins said. "That's critical. Me myself, when I'm going in for a tackle, I've got to punch at the ball better. Not just punch the ball but punch the ball out. Make sure I'm getting the ball out to give us the opportunity to score."

Miami's turned the ball over 10 times and managed eight takeaways on defense. They're tied with the Texans on the season at minus-2 in turnover differential.

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