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John McClain Talks About the Texans Run Defense

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John McClain of the Houston Chronicle was nice enough to answer a couple of questions I sent him yesterday about the Texans run defense and how they plan to stop Chris Johnson:

MCM: The Texans defense has been really good against the run in the last month.  What changes have they made?

JM: They allowed 205 (average) yards rushing in the first three games and 60.5 in the last six. The turnaround happened for this reason: They signed SS Bernard Pollard, who had been cut by KC. He started the fourth game and has been terrific against the run and pass. CB Dunta Robinson and rookie OLB Brian Cushing missed preseason and needed a few games to get ready. Rookie CB Glover Quin, who's physical against the run like Robinson, was moved into the lineup. They went lighter at DT so they could be more active and aggressive. They have a three-man rotation at tackle with Amobi Okoye and Shaun Cody starting and Jeff Zgonina coming off the bench. DEs Antonio Smith and Tim Bulman also play tackle more than DE.

MCM: Are they better equipped to keep CJ from hitting the home run against them like he did last time?

JM: The last time they played, CJ scored two times when players didn't do their responsibility. Instead of playing their spot and doing their assignment, they bit on fakes, and he cut right to where they were supposed to be. On his TD catch, SS Dominique Barber didn't see him leave the huddle and line up wide. That was Barber's last start. Johnson is the best breakaway back since Barry Sanders. He's still going to get long runs. The key is to make sure he gets a lot of short ones, too.

Thanks as always to John for taking the time to answer the questions.

The Texans were actually pretty good against CJ last time minus the two long touchdown runs, but every run counts and that is the beauty of having a back like CJ.  Teams can contain him for most of the game, but he seems to always get a run or two that kills them.