Brutal rushing performance weighs on Bill O'Brien, Texans

HOUSTON -- Struggles with run-blocking in Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts played a factor in one of the Houston Texans' least effective rushing performances of the season, coach Bill O'Brien said Monday.

With a sudden inability to find lanes against the Colts, the Texans' running game more closely resembled the Week 3 loss to the New York Giants when they rushed for just 59 yards and fell to 0-3 to start the season.

"They did a good job," O'Brien said of the Colts. "We had trouble blocking the movement. We just did not perform as good as we had been performing up front. I've got to do a better job mixing it up a little bit more for our guys. It's a combination of playing and coaching, and hopefully, we can improve this week."

Rushing for just 89 yards on 25 carries (3.6 yards per carry), the Texans' rushing offense looked vastly different than it did in the team's franchise-record nine-game winning streak when Houston averaged 146.1 rushing yards per game.

Taking away quarterback Deshaun Watson's five carries for 35 yards, Texans running backs Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue combined for 54 yards on 20 carries, an average of 2.7 yards per carry.

"I think on the offensive side of the ball, we came out slow," Miller said. "We just have to find a way to keep the chains moving and put points on the scoreboard any way possible. That's it."

The Texans were playing without starting right guard Zach Fulton, who suffered a hand injury in a 29-13 win against the Browns in Week 13. Greg Mancz started in place of Fulton. The Texans were held to 26 rushing yards in 12 attempts to the right side, a bulk of which came on one 13-yard run from Miller in the fourth quarter.

The struggles with the running game -- particularly on early downs -- led to five drives during which the Texans failed to get a first down.

"Having a balance, establishing the run game, slows down the defensive line, slows down the secondary coming up in the run fits, kind of opens up the pass game," Watson said. "If you don't establish the run game, get the other team's defensive line going, they get momentum, juice and confidence. The secondary can play a little bit tighter because they feel like their defensive line is geared up. We'll watch the film, correct those and move on from it."

A reshuffling of the offensive personnel also appeared to disrupt Houston's flow.

The Texans were already without rookie slot receiver Keke Coutee (hamstring), and when backup slot receiver DeAndre Carter left the game with a concussion, Houston shifted to more two-tight-end sets. Ryan Griffin led the team with five catches for 80 yards, and rookie tight ends Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas added two catches for 40 yards and four catches for 31 yards, respectively.

"Those guys are talented," O'Brien said. "Relative to how we operate, offensively, sometimes they don't get the opportunities because of how we try to do things, especially in the passing game. Yesterday, they were able to get the ball in the passing game and it really helped us."

O'Brien praised Akins for his versatility and how he lined up out wide, in the slot and at tight end on Sunday. Even third-string quarterback Joe Webb III got looks at slot receiver, making two catches for 13 yards.

The Texans will look to regain their offensive balance on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS) when they visit the Jets (4-9), who feature a defense that ranks 27th in the league against the run (132.0 yards per game) and 16th against the pass (243.8 yards per game).