With four games left in the season, all being AFC matchups and three of those coming inside the AFC South, the Houston Texans hold their own destiny on the outcome of their up and down 2016 season.
The high expectations going into the season have been slowed by an offense which has not produced the points needed to win and a defense decimated by injuries, especially the losses of J.J. Watt and Kevin Johnson, combined with the slow healing issues of John Simon and Jadeveon Clowney.
What will the Texans have to do to close out the 2016 on a high note and win the AFC South? That will be the only way the Texans make the playoffs for the second consecutive season but right now, it seems like a long shot.
There are some changes that the Texans can make heading into the final stretch of the season and listed below are three simple moves the team can make to improve its chances.
Kendall Lamm needs to start over Chris Clark
It has been tough to watch Chris Clark continually struggle in pass protection against some of the top pass rushers in the game. The Texans make it a habit that their offensive lineman handle their one-on-ones when necessary with occasional chips from backs and tight ends.
Clark is athletically limited and it has shown too many times. Kendall Lamm is inexperienced but he has a better chance to hold his own just based on his movement skills. Lamm has been working mostly in a tackle eligible roll, but the inconsistent play of Clark continues to cause issues in the running and passing game.
Texans Need Depth on the Edge
The Texans need help in a bad way on the edge even when Jadeveon Clowney returns from his ailment. The depth is not there and the Texans found out against the Green Bay Packers what inexperience does at that position. The defense used multiple players who were not accustomed to holding the edge and it showed with easy runs for the Packers and Aaron Rodgers who slid that direction to extend plays.
An experienced veteran free agent like Manny Lawson, who has 3-4 edge experience, could help for the short term. Either way, the Texans have to find help on the edge or they will have a hard time containing some potent offenses the team will face in those last four games of the season.
Trio of Running Backs
The tweet still holds true in December: Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes need to split carries with Lamar Miller the rest of the way. Miller is dealing with multiple injuries, according to Bill O’Brien, which are affecting the way he runs the ball on the field.
Blue and Grimes fit into their roles in the offense well. Blue as the 1st and 2nd down back who eats up yards, while Grimes is the back the Texans turn to in 2nd and 3rd down situations with 5 or more yards to gain for the 1st down. They continue to pile up positive yards when they play, with Blue averaging 5.2 yards per carry and Grimes at 6.2 yards.
Miller should still be mixed in but this should be a complete equal time share for the Texans running back moving forward.