Minus Johnson, how would you game plan Houston?

We can say Calvin Johnson is the No.1 offensive weapon in the league right now. The production tells us that. However, when it comes to running routes and having the ability to separate (plus impact defensive game plans), no one in the NFL does it better than Andre Johnson.

How does this Texans' offense change with the WR out (for at least three weeks) with a hamstring injury? Let's think like a coach and change our game prep. Make the proper adjustments and script a game plan for the Texans.

Here is what I am going to do in order to attack Matt Schaub and this Houston offense with Johnson sidelined...

Arian FosterICONWith Johnson out, I'm using an eight-man front in early down and distance situations to limit Foster in the run game.

- Drop a safety into the box. Use the SS (or the FS with a weak side rotation) to create an eight-man front. The Texans want to see a 7-man front and ride RB Arian Foster, but I’m not going to let that happen. Bring the safety down to limit the production in the downhill running game. If Schaub wants to challenge my secondary, that's fine, because I’m not going to let Foster consistently move the sticks. Instead, play the run and force Houston into adverse down and distance situations.

Play press-coverage on the outside with a single-high safety in the middle of the field (Think Cover 1 here). I’m going to tell my corners to play with an outside shade, get hands on the WRs at the line of scrimmage and challenge them to beat press-looks. Without Johnson in the game to convert routes down the field, I have no issue playing aggressively vs. Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones. Funnel the WRs to my help in the middle of the field.

- Use the blitz fronts—both zone and man. With Johnson on the field, you can get caught if the blitz doesn’t get home. Here, I’m going to take some risks. And when I get into some third and medium situations (3rd and 4-7), I might have to play some Cover 0 (blitz-man with no safety help). Align the corners with an inside shade (in an off-man position) and send seven and eight-man pressure. Plus, when I go zone pressure, use some CB "Cats" (CB blitz) and get creative.

- Take away the TE position. This is where I expect Schaub to work the ball. If I see production, then I bring my sub package on the field (nickel) and use an extra corner on Owen Daniels. Take away the short to intermediate route tree inside of the numbers. Even without Johnson, the TEs in Houston still can cause issues vs. a safety or a LB in coverage. Might have to make an adjustment there.

- Have to play some coverage. I am looking at 2-Man and even some Tampa 2 when I have the Texans in 3rd and long situations. This is where you will see the deep dig, some combination routes and vertical concepts to move the sticks. Daniels can work the middle of the field vs. Tampa 2, so I am going to lean towards 2-Man. Underneath man-coverage with the defender playing inside with a trail-technique.

What’s your plan to limit the Texans’ from a defensive perspective? Let me know. And, on Sunday, check out the Raiders. Because I am very curious to see how they game plan Schaub, Foster and the rest of this Houston lineup.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

Upcoming Games

Aug 4th, 8:00 PM

Jacksonville +1.5 -110

Las Vegas -1.5 -110


Aug 11th, 7:00 PM

NY Giants

New England


Aug 11th, 7:30 PM