Texans relying on offense or defense?
October, 4, 2012
By Michael Bonzagni and John Choi | ESPN.com
Ron Chenoy/US Presswire
Is it Matt Schaub and the offense or Wade Phillips' defense that is responsible for the Texans' 4-0 start? We debate each side in our weekly installment.
Defense is the key
The Houston Texans are Super Bowl favorites after the first four weeks of the season, and the defense is the reason why.
Houston has allowed a league-low 273 yards per game thanks to its ability to dominate opposing quarterbacks. Wade Phillips’ unit has held quarterbacks to a 12.5 QBR and just 5.4 yards per attempt, both the best in the league. The unit has allowed a 52.9 completion percentage and 182.8 passing yards per game, both second-lowest in the NFL.
The Texans are second in the league in time of possession (35:32) because the defense gets off the field after third downs, allowing opponents to convert a league-low 25 percent of the time (12-of-48 opportunities). Opposing quarterbacks complete 46 percent of their passes for 4.3 yards per attempt with a 3.7 QBR on third downs.
As a result, the defense has been on the field for an average of 58 snaps per game, tied for fourth lowest in the league.
The Texans defense has evolved into an elite unit that suffocates opposing quarterbacks and allows the offense to control the ball. The defense is the reason the Texans are one of just three undefeated teams.
-- Michael Bonzagni
It’s all about the offense
The Texans have emerged as one of the best teams in the NFL, boasting the highest point differential in the league at +70, and it’s because of the offense, which is averaging seven more points per game than last season.
The offensive line has protected the quarterback, allowing a sack every 42 dropbacks, the best rate in the NFL. That’s allowed Matt Schaub to be efficient when opponents send four or fewer pass rushers -- he’s completed 73.9 percent of his passes against such pressure with five touchdowns, both in the top two among qualified quarterbacks.
The o-line has helped the run game as well -- Houston running backs have scored five of their six rushing touchdowns inside the tackles. No other team’s running backs have more than four touchdowns on such runs.
Overall, the offense extends drives with third-down efficiency, converting at the sixth-best rate in the league. Their success comes from getting in manageable situations -- 63 percent of Houston’s third downs are five yards to go or fewer, the best rate in the NFL.
The Texans have only turned the ball over twice this season, tied for the fewest in the NFL, and have no turnovers in the red zone. Last season the Texans had five red-zone turnovers -- only the Philadelphia Eagles had more.
-- John Choi