In the last two weeks, the Houston Texans have displayed a versatility on offense that every NFL team would love to have. In the week 2 win in Jacksonville over the Jacksonville Jaguars they did the majority of their damage with the running game. The Texans ran the ball 48 times, rushing for 216 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and controlling the clock to the tune of 43:17.
In the week 3 victory in Denver over the Denver Broncos, Houston took to the air and did similar damage. Matt Schaub passed for 290 yards and 4 TDs to four different players to lead the Texans to the victory. That was typical of the way the ball was spread around on offense, as eight different players recorded a reception, with no one player making more than 3 grabs.
Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter led the way with 3 catches and a touchdown apiece, but Denver had much more to account for than just those two. Andre Johnson only had 2 receptions on the day but both were huge. The first one was the 60 yard bomb he caught off of a play action fake from Schaub that put the Texans on the scoreboard in the 1st quarter. His second catch was a 12 yard grab on a crucial 3rd and 5 play in the 4th quarter that gave Houston a first down and allowed the Texans keep possession and run most of the clock out.
The other touchdown reception came from RB Arian Foster, who added another 100 yard rushing game and is another dangerous receiving weapon out of the backfield. Also getting in on the fun Sunday was James Casey with 3 catches, Garrett Graham and Keshawn Martin with 2 each, and Lestar Jean with a big 46 yard catch and run reception. Perhaps no player demonstrates the Texans versatility on offense better than the jack of all trades Casey, who lines up at fullback, h-back or tight end. The rookie Martin can also be a wild card, as evidenced by his 21 yard gain on an end around in Sunday’s game.
The Denver game was a microcosm of how the Texans have been spreading the ball around thus far this season. Johnson and Daniels lead the team with 13 receptions apiece. Walter and Foster each have 8, Casey and RB Ben Tate have 7 grabs apiece, Graham 3 and Martin and Jean round out the stat line with 2 apiece. This balance makes the job of opposing defensive coordinators that much more difficult when devising game plans to stop the Texans offense.
Double cover the All-Pro Johnson, tight ends Daniels and Graham can hurt you in the middle of the field. Bring heat to Schaub, Foster and Tate can swing out of the backfield and take a swing pass the distance. Play zone, Martin and Jean have the speed and big play potential to get open and rack up yards after the catch.
A big question mark for Houston coming into the season was who would step up as the 2nd tight end and 3rd wide receiver to make up for the losses of TE Joel Dreessen and WR Jacoby Jones. So far, those concerns have been alleviated, as the wave of options the Texans are hitting teams with has been more than adequate. Pick your poison defenses, and Houston’s pass catchers will continue to share the wealth. That’s a problem that the Tennessee Titans will have to deal with this week, and based on the way their defense has played so far one of Schaub’s targets will have a big day on Sunday. Which one will it be? It could be any one of them, and that’s the beauty of the Texans passin game.