The Houston Texans are in free-fall mode, extending their unanticipated losing streak to a whopping seven games. Quite honestly, the only exciting thing about the Texans' future right now is their potential to get a high draft pick.
The Texans, however, have a winnable game this week against the Oakland Raiders and a chance to restore some glory to their fallen franchise.
Here is the breakdown of the game plan the Texans must follow if they wish to curb their embarrassing streak of poor performances.
Pound the Ball
After experiencing failure with running the ball last week against the Arizona Cardinals, the Texans decided to completely abandon the core of their offense.
They allowed Case Keenum, the talented young quarterback who has provided a spark for the struggling Texans team, to throw the ball well over 40 times, a number way too high for a rookie quarterback making his third career start.
The Cardinals pass rush dominated the Texans offensive line due to the fact that they were expecting a passing play every single down, and Keenum stood no chance.
This week, the Texans must pound the ball with Ben Tate and establish a running game against a suspect Raiders rush defense.
Protecting Keenum is a priority this game, and there is no better way to do it than consistently running the ball. Expect the Texans to rush Tate early and often.
Last week's demoralizing was not only perpetuated by poor offensive line play but also shoddy play-calling. As often as Texans fans criticize and berate Gary Kubiak, it is clear that he is a much, much better offensive play-caller than Rick Dennison.
Dennison was unable to react to the game, as he continued to call for long-developing passing routes even after Keenum was faced with constant pressure.
Any capable play-caller, including Kubiak, would have adjusted to the game action with shorter, faster passing routes that would have given Keenum ample enough time to get rid of the ball.
Watch for the Texans to be much smarter with how their offense is run this week; Keenum needs to be put in a position to win the game. They can't expect Keenum to be a hero; they must run an offense predicated on balance between the running and passing game.
Stack the Box
The Raiders offense is dependent upon the running game. Shut it down and victory is almost ensured. So far this season, the Raiders rank sixth in total rushing yards and 31st in passing yards.
This makes it almost a no-brainer for the Texans to stack the box, playing a safety essentially as a linebacker.
D.J. Swearinger, Houston's second-round draft choice from this year, is a hard-hitting, physical safety who is excellent at defending the run and making plays on the ball-carrier.
He should see a ton of action in the box this Sunday, and he will be a key factor in the Texans' victory chances.