Run, Run, Run. Then Run Some More. Texans-49ers preview.

TexansObviously Matt Schaub is catching tremendous heat from fans and media after throwing six interceptions in the first four games of the season. Three of them have been returned for touchdowns, including each of the last three games, two of which have been losses. As the quarterback, of course he is the focus of the ire and consternation, and in my opinion, based on his penchant for the big mistake, the anger is properly targeted. The majority of the interceptions are just flat out bad decisions. Decisions that shouldn’t be made once in a season from a 7-year starter, let alone on a weekly basis.

But to blindly ignore there are not other issues with the team – specifically – the “team” of protectors in front of him, would not be right. So let’s look at something that stood out to me. Sacks. Schaub’s been sacked 11 times in four games this year. Simple math says that’d be 44 sacks over the course of the season.     44 sacks in a season would land him in the top 4 most sacked quarterbacks for each season since 2007 – his first year as an NFL starting quarterback. He’s only been sacked more than 27 times in a season once, that was in 2010, when he was dropped 32 times. Not surprisingly, the Texans went 6-10 that season, the only season since Schaub arrived that the Texans had a losing record. (To be fair, it should be noted that his individual numbers were not drastically different than his others, only slightly down. However, that 2010 defense rivaled the 2-14 (2005) Texans as the worst in team history allowing 27 points per game (29th in the NFL).

I actually wanted to focus in on the 11 sacks in four games. That really stands out during his time here. Getting sacked 11 times over a four-game span has happened only two other times in his career. He’s had very good protection and an offense clearly focused on ensuring his protection throughout that time. It certainly doesn’t look like they have an offense like that this year. Schaub’s 177 pass attempts are second only to Sam Bradford’s 182. The difference is St . Louis cannot run the ball. They average just 18.3 attempts per game, which ranks 31st. They get just 47.3 yards per game on those carries which is the worst total in the NFL.

The Texans are one of the league’s better running teams. They’re 12th in attempts (28.5), 7th in yards per game (134.3) and 6th in yards per carry (4.7). I asked coach Kubiak earlier this week about if they are throwing the ball too much. “If we’re not throwing it as much as we did, we’re not going to win. Obviously, in Baltimore, we got down. So we’ve been in games that have brought about us throwing the ball too much,” Kubiak said.

“Don’t want to play that way. We were very balanced the other day and consistent in what we were doing,” he continued. “I liked to play much like we did the other day for three-and-a-half quarters.”

It seems pretty clear they need to run the ball more and stick with the run more, especially if it’s as effective as it has been for more of the year. The San Francisco defense was very good in their two wins, and not real good in their two losses. They’re only 19th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, but more importantly they are 5th in the league in rushing yards per carry, a much better measure of a defense in my opinion. Against Green Bay and St. Louis, the rushing defense was great (GB: 19-63, 3.3ypc & St.Louis: 19-18, 0.9ypc). Against Indianapolis and Seattle, their rush defense was far less effective. Seattle was credited with 47 rushes and 172 yards, which includes 2 kneel downs for -3 yards, so really it was a 45 rushes for 175 yards (3.9 ypc). Indianapolis popped San Francisco for 184 yards on 40 carries (4.6 ypc), including 9 straight runs to close out their 27-7 victory.

What that says to me is run the ball. Then run it some more. 30 passes is fine for this team. 35 is fine, too. But trusting the offensive line and more importantly Schaub to throw it much more than that is too much this year in my opinion. Kubiak has had a tendency to quit on the ground game way too soon this year. I suggest he doesn’t this Sunday night.

– Wex (@awexler)

— By the way, quarterbacks are completing just 52.8% of their passes against San Francisco this year. That’s the 2nd best mark in the NFL. They’ve also allowed only 11 completions of 20 or more yards this season. Only 2 teams in the NFL have allowed fewer such completions – Seattle and…drum roll…Houston. Should be a great game.

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