AFC South All-22 Review: The Houston Texans' Signature Play

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AFC South All-22 Review: The Houston Texans' Signature Play
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
Hold up! Don't bite on this!

No team in football runs the play-action bootleg quite like the Houston Texans.

Houston's dogged reliance on the run makes opposing defenses particularly vulnerable to the play-action pass.

They used the action to great affect against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9.

Late in the first quarter, the Texans opened their scoring drive with an 18-yard throw to Kevin Walter from Matt Schaub on first down.

There will be three route-runners on the play. Owen Daniels comes in motion and ultimately lines up at tight end to block. James Casey is playing full back. Schaub play actions to the back and then boot legs back to the left hash.

Walter's actual route is more complicated than the result. See the second picture.

Meanwhile Walter is running a slow-developing double move that will eventually take him all the way across the field.

In this case, the Bills secondary isn't confused by the play-action, but the corner on Walter gets slightly turned around by the double move and gets screened off the play by the combination of Johnson and the two defenders shadowing him.

Walter runs a double move, and his defender is about to caught in the wash. Note the pocket for Schaub.

The double coverage on Johnson manages to take out three defenders leaving Walter wide open.

The real effect of the play-action bootleg on this play is to give Walter time to run his route. Look at the pocket where Schaub has to sit and wait for his man to come open.

The key to defending this play is for the defensive right end to stay disciplined and head upfield after the quarterback. If Schaub gets this kind of cushion, the result is going to be a long throw downfield more often than not.

After the Bills struggled with it, Schaub went back to it just a few plays later.

The formation is different this time, but the effect is the same.

This time Casey is in motion and Daniels is lined up at tight end. There is no full back. On the play-action, Daniels glides across the line of scrimmage feigning like he's looking for someone to block.

Daniels (yellow) will leak out pretending to block for a run.

When he finally releases upfield, the linebacker is still confused as to what is happening. He makes an initial move toward the quarterback, who is approximately 149 miles away from him.

The linebacker blows the coverage on the tight end. Schaub has all day to let the play unfold.

The result is a wide-open Daniels.

This time, the action sucks in the linebackers and allows the tight end to burn upfield unmolested for a score.

Teams have to pick their death against Houston. If they sell out to stop the run, the results can be devastating.

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