AFC South: Michael Bush

Initial thoughts on Week 1 matchups

September, 5, 2012
9/05/12
12:03
PM ET
Some initial thoughts on the four games we’ll be watching this weekend:

Miami at Houston

Miami left tackle Jake Long is coming of a knee injury and right tackle Jonathan Martin is a rookie. How well can the Dolphins protect rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill against a smothering Texans’ defensive front? Set the over-under on sacks at 4.5, minimally. Maybe everybody gets one, maybe Connor Barwin or Brooks Reed or J.J. Watt ends up with several.

Indianapolis at Chicago

I expect a big season from Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. But the Bears would be wise to start off with a heavy dose of Matt Forte and Michael Bush. The preseason didn’t do much to prove the Colts will be capable of stopping the run. Opponents would be wise to set the tone with a running back before trying to find the holes in the secondary.

Jacksonville at Minnesota

How good is rookie left tackle Matt Kalil out of the gate for the Vikings? The Jaguars own rookie starter, right defensive end Andre Branch, draws the matchup. The second-round rusher will look to get past the first-round blocker to harass second-year quarterback Christian Ponder. We’ve not heard a great deal about Branch yet, but he’s a key addition for the Jags. (We hit on the importance of Eugene Monroe yesterday.)

New England at Tennessee

The Titans love Jake Locker's ability to rebound from tough stuff, and he's likely to be in position to have to do so in the course of this game. The Patriots' defense had some severe deficiencies last season. Can rookie right end Chandler Jones help disrupt Locker, or will Michael Roos hold him at bay? And what kind of coverage wrinkles will Bill Belichick come up with?

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


Everyone connected to the Houston defense needs to raise his hand when it comes to assessing blame for the team’s miserable run defense so far.

Back in Week 2 after a huge tackle of Chris Johnson by Mario Williams, I thought perhaps things had begun to turn. Nope.

My new best friend, Marty Callinan of ESPN Stats and Information, gave me this breakdown or where teams are attacking, and not attacking, the Texans on the ground.

Mario Williams is moved around and plays on both sides, but he starts out on the right and it seems they try to keep him on the weakside. I just re-watched the Jaguars’ first series against the Texans and of his seven snaps I saw him on the right for six. The general rule is he is on the right in the base on run downs, then flips left to rush the passer.

Amobi Okoye lines up at tackle on the right, next to Williams on a lot of run downs.

And it seems to be where offenses feel like they can control people and find run yards.

Opponents have done much more damage against the Texans running anywhere from the left sideline to the right guard, while doing much less from the right tackle to the right sideline.
Texans rush defense by direction, 2009
RG -- left sideline RT -- right sideline
Att-yds73-52320-93
Avg.7.24.7
Long91 39
Rush TD61

Take note in the Oakland game Sunday: are the Raiders sending Darren McFadden and Michael Bush more to the left and a lot less to the outside on the right? Do the Texans look to do anything to bandage what’s become the weaker side of their run defense?

And what does this tell us about the run play of left end Antonio Smith?

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