HOUSTON -- Despite an 0-2 record and ranking 26th in the NFL in scoring offense, at 18.5 points per game, the Houston Texans have had success running the ball and enter Week 3 leading the NFL in rushing.
Through two games, the Texans are averaging 157.5 rushing yards per game, and they're doing it without 2017 third-round pick D'Onta Foreman, who started the season on the physically unable to perform list while he recovers from a torn left Achilles.
After the Texans' offensive line struggled last season, the additions Houston made in the offseason have had success run blocking for starter Lamar Miller and backup Alfred Blue. The Texans have four new starters -- left tackle Martinas Rankin (third-round pick), left guard Senio Kelemete (free agency), right guard Zach Fulton (free agency) and Julién Davenport -- on the offensive line. Although the group has struggled to protect quarterback Deshaun Watson, there has been a noticeable improvement in the running game.
Houston has had success on the ground with Miller, who has 34 carries for 166 yards (fourth in the NFL) through two games. Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Miller "does a good job of reading the runs" and praised how decisive the veteran running back has been so far.
This is an important season for Miller, who is coming off the worst year of his career, in which he averaged 3.7 yards per carry. Although his yards per carry was slightly inflated in Week 1 because he had a 31-yard run, he is averaging 4.9 yards per carry through two games.
Blue, who is the Texans' No. 2 running back in Foreman's absence, has 12 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown this season. Houston's rushing stats have also gotten some help from its mobile quarterback, as Watson has 13 carries for 84 yards.
Most importantly for the offense, which has gotten off to a slow start and struggled to put points on the board, the running game has helped the Texans get into a rhythm in the second half. Through two games, they have combined for 13 first-half points and 322 total net yards. Those numbers jump to 24 points and 440 total net yards in the second half.
If the Texans are going to turn their season around -- they face the 0-2 Giants in Week 3 (1 p.m. ET Sunday, Fox), who rank 29th in the NFL in rushing defense and are allowing 137.5 yards per game -- continuing to have consistency in the running game could be the key.
"I think the running game really helped [get the offense moving after a slow start]," O'Brien said. "We started to really move the ball on the ground. I think our backs are really playing well. Lamar [Miller] and [Alfred] Blue are really doing a good job, and our line is run blocking pretty will with the tight ends.
"There was some good execution going on there, and we really need to try to keep it going. We really need to continue to be consistent with it because it's going to help us."