HOUSTON -- While the Jacksonville Jaguars have a good front seven, highlighted by what Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien called “linebackers that fly,” they didn’t have success in their first meeting against the Texans.
In that Week 10 game in Florida, Houston ran the ball 33 times for 181 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Starting running back Lamar Miller got injured but still ran for 83 yards on 15 carries. Akeem Hunt ran for 52 yards in his season debut off the Texans' practice squad and backup Alfred Blue added 23.
“I thought we ran it pretty well,” veteran left tackle Duane Brown said of Sunday's rematch. “Especially at the end of the game, you know, having some runs there just to close the game out. It’s never easy to run on their front. They’ve got some big guys out there, linebacker corps is extremely fast. The secondary gets involved, but guys found a way to get a lot of yards. We’re going to have to do it again this week.”
O’Brien has said the running game becomes even more important in December and into the playoffs, and the Texans have shown on offense they are a run-first team.
“I think that we’re always, especially this year, we’re always going to try to run the football. That’s kind of what our identity is on offense,” O’Brien said. “I’m not saying that we can do it the same way we did it. Some of those runs that we had against Jacksonville in the first game were our bread-and-butter runs. Some of them were stuffed. We got to do a better job on those runs.”
Offensive coordinator George Godsey credited the development of the run game to having a deep group of backs who are very “productive.”
“All the running backs, when they get the opportunity, I think they do a great job of just keeping the run game going,” Miller said. “Like Alfred Blue, he did a great job this past week getting them tough yardage. Even Akeem [Hunt], when he got in the game, he made big runs for us. [Jonathan Grimes], he’s been doing a great job throughout this whole season, coming in on third downs and making big runs for us in critical downs. I think everybody’s been doing a great job.”
Miller praised the Texans’ offensive line for what the unit has done on the ground this season.
“I think those guys have been consistent since Day 1,” Miller said. “I have a lot of confidence in all of the guys just doing their assignment and getting the job done. Those guys have been doing a great job for me and the other running backs. We just try to be decisive and just keep the chains moving and get positive yards.
“That’s our mentality, smashmouth football. We have the offensive line to do it and we have the running backs that can do it as well. We just try to go out there and do our assignment and just keep the chains moving any way that’s possible.”