Offseason Playbook: Texans

A look at Houston's philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move

Originally Published: March 1, 2013
By Gary Horton and Field Yates | ESPN Insider
Andre JohnsonThomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesAndre Johnson is a true No. 1 receiver, but he needs some help in Houston.

In a new offseason series, Insider takes an in-depth look at NFL teams before free agency begins March 12. What is each team's philosophy on offense and defense, biggest needs and one player who could make for an ideal signing in free agency?

Team philosophies

Offense -- This is a very well-designed offense with excellent run-pass balance and creative play calling. The run game is a zone-blocking, one-cut-and-go scheme, which tailors to the Texans' backs and the offensive line really well. They have even added some unique blocking wrinkles with stretch plays, pulling linemen and wham blocks. In 2012, Arian Foster ran more to the left side because of right-side offensive line deficiencies, and one of his best qualities is patience to let his blocks form.

When the run game is going well, it sets up an excellent play-action passing game -- at times with bootleg action. Matt Schaub throws well on the run and on bootlegs, with a lot of short to intermediate passes -- but where was the deep ball in 2012? Conservative play calling allowed safeties to crash the box, which hurt the run game. Schaub needs to open up this passing game to force defenses to play honest. The Texans like power run formations near the goal line and they will use motion and movement to create good matchups.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.