The Texans have a fairly simple game plan for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. As Houston prepares for the AFC South division rival, coaches Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips have three goals in mind.
Protect Matt Schaub
Last week against the Steelers, the Titans defense recorded five sacks, 6 quarterback hits, one interception, one pass defensed, and one fumble recovery. This week, head coach Gary Kubiak wants to protect Schaub against a strong Titans pass rush.
"They can go get the quarterback," Kubiak said. "They banged (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) around last week. They can go get there. I think they do an excellent job of getting after the quarterback and knocking people down.
Run the ball
The Texans aim to regain their success in running the ball. In Week 1 at San Diego, running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined for 112 yards on 27 carries. Foster averaged just 3.2 yards per rush on 18 attempts. With the Texans trailing by three touchdowns in the third quarter, the run game was abandoned for the second half with just 11 carries for 39 yards. Passing plays accounted for 19 first downs, whereas only five were earned on running plays.
"We're going to have to run the ball more and better than we did last week," Kubiak said. "Obviously, there were reasons why we didn't run it more last week, but it will be very important. We made a bunch of third-and-longs last week, third-and-18, third-and-13, to keep the game alive. We can't put ourselves in that position this week."
Stop the run, i.e. Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson, who has a career 33 games with 100-yards rushing performances, led a trio of running backs with 70 yards in last week's 16-9 win over the Steelers.
"After one week, we see him (Johnson) getting a lot of opportunities to run the football," Titans head coach Mike Munchak said Wednesday. "I think if we just keep getting better in what we're trying to do, I have no doubt that he'll have his chances to make big plays. We know what he's capable of doing. He's done it in the preseason."
The Titans rushed for 10 of 17 first downs on 42 carries. Jackie Battle, the Houston native, had the lone rushing touchdown in the second quarter. The Titans look to Chris Johnson to continue their success running the football, especially with a young quarterback like Jake Locker who had just 11 completions on 20 attempts in Week 1.
"He's the same explosive guy that he's been," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said of Johnson. "He's a guy that you can see why he made 2,000 yards, because he's got that great explosion. He had a 58-yarder in preseason where nobody came close to catching him. Any time he gets a hole, he can break it all the way. There are just a handful of guys that can go all the way on one play from any part of the field and he's one of those guys."
The Texans hope that the return of Antonio Smith off his recent suspension will be a factor in stopping the Titans running game.
"This team can sit there and pound on you," Kubiak said. "They obviously have got one of the biggest big-play backs in football. That's a big point of emphasis right there. Getting (DE Antonio (Smith) back is a plus and then we've got a quarterback that can move around, so that's the two big challenges."
Kickoff for the (1-0) Texans vs. (1-0) Titans game is scheduled for 12 p.m on Sunday, September 15.