Five problems Texans need to correct

Five problems Texans need to correct
January 1, 2013, 8:00 am
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Texans come limping into Saturday's game

Putting it pretty simply: the Texans haven't been a good football team recently.

After starting the season with an 11-1 record, the Texans have lost three of their past four games and are now stumbling into the playoffs.

Not all problems are fixable but it seems the ones the Texans own are. The team seems to have plenty of talent. The problem has been a lack of execution and discipline. These two issues have reared their ugly heads at the absolute worst time but if they want to win Saturday, they'll need to correct these problems.

1. Penalties

How does a team stop taking bad and too many penalties? Good question. If it was easy to answer there would be a lot fewer coaches fired in this league. Teams who get called for a lot of penalties are normally younger and undisciplined, not necessarily younger but almost always undisciplined.

“It’s driving me crazy to be honest with you," he said.

Penalties fall on the head coach and Gary Kubiak knows it.

"When you’re having too many penalties that’s a discipline issue and that’s on me the coach," he said. "I take full responsibility for that and I’ve got to get it fixed.”

2. Giving up big plays

The Texans have given up six pass plays of 60-plus yards, which is tied for the most in the NFL. And they've given up all six of them since Nov. 18.

"We’ve given up some plays in situations that we shouldn’t," Kubiak said. "What was it yesterday, third-and-23, that’s not us. We’ve done that twice this year. We did that yesterday, we did it against Jacksonville back a few weeks ago. Getting off the field has been a problem defensively."

3. Not getting big plays

For as many big plays as the Texans give up on defense, they don't get many back on offense.

Matt Schaub has completed just 14 passes of 20-plus yards this season and has attempted just 43. In those passes, the Texans have gained 543 yards and five touchdowns. Not terrible statistics but not anywhere near the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

Here are the stats for three of the top quarterbacks in the NFL compared to Schaub when throwing 20-plus yard passes.

Matt Schaub - 14-for-43, 543 yards, five touchdowns
Tom Brady - 21-for-63, 699 yards, eight touchdowns
Peyton Manning - 24-for-60, 794 yards, eight touchdowns
Aaron Rodgers - 19-for-48, 609 yards, 10 touchdowns

"There are a lot of plays to get a quarterback going and make it look a lot better from the standpoint at the end of the game statistically that could help him," Kubiak said. "But at the same time he’s got to do things better. And I’m up there searching all I can to put him in a better situation to be successful.”

4. Inconsistent running game

The Texans biggest weapon is its run game with Arian Foster. The problem is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

"Offensively, it starts with running the ball," Kubiak said. "We’re very inconsistent. I think it’s about three weeks in a row we’ve walked in at halftime and we’ve had – (Sunday) we had, what, 12 or 13 carries for 20-something yards. So not a lot of snaps, not a lot of production. Then we come out in the third quarter and run the ball extremely well. We have to have a consistent day where we get out there and run the ball 30 times like we’re accustomed to doing and what we do best, and that hasn’t happened.”

Foster finished near 100 yards on the game but that steady production hasn't always been there. With three Pro Bowlers on the offensive line, the Texans should certainly be more consistent, even with the youth on the right side of the line.

5. Poor special teams play

The Texans' special teams units have struggled all season and on Sunday had another bad game with one play.

It gave up a 101-yards touchdown on a kick return. It was the second kick return touchdown the Texans have given up this season. They've given up three combined kick and punt return touchdowns this season and are tied for second tied in the NFL in that regard.