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Scouts Inc.: [Cliche] Important For [Team]

At some point, I'm sure Scouts Inc. was a good company. They were founded on the principle of breaking tape down, studying football from all angles, and giving a scouts perspective on things. Unfortunately, ESPN purchased them, and since then they've been producing nothing but unsourced hyperbole. Example: this piece that ran on the AFC South blog last week.

Commence takedown? 

You have selected "Yes."

On the ground, Houston attempted 425 runs, but averaged a measly 3.5 yards per carry. The Colts also averaged 3.5 per rush, and only the Chargers -- two pretty good offensive teams -- were worse on an average per rush basis.

Man, it's almost like running the ball isn't a prerequisite to having a good offense (or a good team, since the Colts and Chargers were the #1 and #2 seeds in the AFC last year). Maybe, with this newfound knowledge, you can go back in time and re-write the headline that "run-pass ratio is key" to the Texans? Or are you going to be introducing actual evidence?

The Texans were minus-1 in turnover ratio, and although their running backs had collective fumbling problems in 2009, surely running the ball more would help that equation. The ball security does need to be improved, as does their ability to take the ball away on defense, where they created only 14 interceptions and 13 forced fumbles.

So you admit that the Texans, faced with a group of butterfingers before Gary Kubiak finally found Arian Foster at the end of the year, were having problems carrying the ball. You also admit that their defense was pretty mediocre, which was probably at the root of their turnover differential being a problem. These would seem like a pair of reasons that the Texans wouldn't have ran the ball much last year, and perhaps something that would come back to earth with regression, no?

That goes for both sides of the ball, as the defense would stay fresher if the Texans controlled the clock with more regularity. The Texans are not known for being able to eat clock when they have a lead or to consistently bury their opponent. Clearly a better rushing attack would help in this regard. 

Statistical backup? For any of these quotes? Have you considered that perhaps part of the reason the Texans have a problem holding onto leads is, I don't know, the part of the game of football that doesn't have anything to do with the offense?

Although Indianapolis and San Diego obviously proved last year that you can have a very effective offense in today's NFL even without much of a running game, I am a believer in more offensive balance for reasons stated above and several others. For one, the threat of a downhill running game would open up more play-action possibilities, which in turn, should lead to more big plays when safeties bite ever so slightly on the run fakes. Clearly Houston has the weapons to take advantage of such a situation. And, a bolstered rushing attack could very much lighten coverage on Andre Johnson, making it far more difficult to double the star receiver.

Reasons for running the ball more: "offensive balance" (irrelevant, since teams can have a good offense without running), "fresher defense" (logical, but unsourced, would make a nice study), "turnover ratio" (Texans running backs fumbled so often last year that it was hard to trust them), and now "open up more play-action possibilities." That last idea would make sense, except that the Texans already had the second-biggest increase in DVOA on PA pass plays last year (according to our friends at Football Outsiders), compared to their regular plays. Their offense was almost 50% more effective on play-action, and they ran play-action more than any other team in the Top 10 DVOA increases on PA asides from Carolina. But hey, running the ball more will help this out somehow! This is truly an area in need of improvement!

The run blocking wasn't stellar, but I blame the runners more than the blocking for Houston's woes in 2009.

Oh, so you've complied some bad tape? You've got some good insight to spread on why they were bad? Is someone holding the ball wrong? I mean, you guys do break down the tape, right? Please, tell me and save your article! 

(Spoiler: he adds absolutely nothing to that and spends a paragraph talking about defined roles for Foster and Steve Slaton.)

Obviously Houston has a very good offense. Although the overall points scored statistic might not jump up drastically with a better rushing attack, the results would be noticeable in other ways

Yes, they would receive style points from Scouts Inc's Matt Williamson.

That is one of the playoff tiebreakers now, right?

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.