Texans' biggest issue: Third down

The Houston Texans have plenty of concerns after losing two of three. They need a win Sunday in Indianapolis to grab the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. If they lose, they may wind up playing a first-round game.

Foremost on Gary Kubiak’s mind is problems converting on third down after his team went one-for-11 down against Minnesota, with far too many third-and-longs.

From his Monday news conference with Houston media:

“Obviously, we’ve got a problem on third downs right now. It has not been good the last three weeks. If there was one problem, we’d go address that. There’s many, many issues going on. But there is one consistent issue and the consistent issue is third-and-long. We have 12, officially 11 third downs yesterday. Of the 12, nine of them were over eight yards. So, you’re setting yourself up for very bad situations. (Matt Schaub’s) got to play better in some of those situations. We definitely have to protect better in some of those situations. We’ve got to make more plays in those situations and we’ve got to call better plays in those situations. So all those things working together, when they start splintering and awry, they add up to a very difficult problem. But it’s not on Matt. It’s not on one guy. It’s everybody doing a better job.”

Before their Dec. 2 win at Tennessee, the Texans ranked 11th in the NFL in third-down conversions.

Since then, they’ve gone:

  • Four-for-17 in Tennessee

  • Four-for-14 in New England

  • Five-for-13 against Indianapolis

  • One-for-11 against Minnesota

Thanks to that stretch of converting just one in four chances, they now rank 20th in third-down conversions.

That’s quite a drop in a month.

“I think we were actually pretty good for about 10 weeks, pretty good, third down-wise,” Kubiak said. “The first glaring thing I look at is, why so many long-yardage situations? Usually those are coming if we’re not running the ball very good. Yesterday is a great example. To have 12 third-down plays and not one of them was a run, that’s disturbing. There’s a couple of them that could have been and I didn’t call them.

“But for us to do what we do best, there’s a percentage of those that we need to be in position to line up and run the football and we haven’t done that in the last month. Getting back to that is a big point of emphasis. Now that’s a lot easier said than done, so we’ve got to look at ourselves hard to make sure we can get that done.”