Gary Kubiak will never be confused with Chip Kelly. The Houston Texans coach doesn't go out of his way to promote himself as some wild offensive innovator. And the next crazy thing Kubiak does, just might be the first.
But there's no denying that the Texans played at a fast pace in the third preseason game Sunday, the supposedly all-important dress rehearsal preseason game. It's largely getting lost in the praise for Ben Tate, the concern over the pass defense and the continuing joy of a real backup quarterback race, but Kubiak's offense is showing it can be a handful in a hurry.
The Matt Schaub first-team offense ran 41 plays in one half of football. That may not be quite as fast as Kelly wants the Philadelphia Eagles to play this season. But it's not all that far from it either.
Almost every team in the NFL now craves more plays. The Texans of Kubiak are uniquely suited to take advantage of this new age of football.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots averaged an NFL-high 74.4 plays per game last season. The Texans surpassed that number on Sunday and would have run off even more plays if the starting offense stayed in longer.
Forty one plays of offense in one half with Andre Johnson, Tate and the Texans' not-even-100-percent corps of young wide receivers running downhill. No wonder why Rob Ryan's revamped New Orleans Saints defense looked like it desperately wanted to throw up a stop sign.
You think Andre Johnson might excel in a high-speed attack? The ageless 32-year-old racked up 131 receiving yards on seven catches. In one half.
Yes, No. 80 could put up Calvin Johnson stats if the Texans always played this fast.
"I don't get caught up in that," Andre Johnson tells CultureMap. "I don't read too much into it. Every game is different. We're a team that likes to run the football. (New Orleans) is a team capable of putting up a lot of points and you're probably going to push it on offense because of that.
"Not every game is like that."
No, the Texans do play the woeful Jaguars twice a year after all. There are games when they figure to be able to pound inferior opponents into submission. But Gary Kubiak is never really as slow as some think.
Fast Offense Truths
Houston averaged 68.1 plays per game last season, ranking among the league leaders. The Texans aren't the Patriots rushing to the line, but they're not exactly dawdling a lot either.
The idea of Schaub throwing the ball 52 times in a game (he threw it 26 times in two quarters against the Saints) may not make Kubiak's list of dream scenarios, but with Johnson, Owen Daniels, DeAndre Hopkins (who didn't even play Sunday), Keshawn Martin, Lestar Jean and Garrett Graham, it creates nightmare scenarios for defenses too.
"It's great to get that many plays off," Daniels says. "Especially with all the weapons we have on this offense now.
"We can put a lot of pressure on a defense when we push it."
Imagine Foster and Johnson coming at an opposing defense fast-paced play after fast-paced play.
The trend towards frenetic offense isn't going away anytime soon. Almost every team in the NFL now craves more plays. The Texans of Kubiak are uniquely suited to take advantage of this new age of football.
Playing fast doesn't mean abandoning the run. You don't think Arian Foster would excel in a quick-paced rushing and pass catching role? Imagine Foster and Johnson coming at an opposing defense fast-paced play after fast-paced play. The overrated Rob Ryan wouldn't be the only defensive coordinator whose stomach is suddenly doing flips.
Kubiak won't admit that the trend intrigues him. The Texans coach is almost resolutely anti trendy. Heck, he still sports a haircut from the 1950s.
"I’m worried about my group," Kubiak says at his weekly day-after press conference Monday. "I can’t worry about the trends and what’s going on. I’ve got to do what’s best for our football team.”
These Texans might be the best team in the league with a little faster offensive pace. Schaub is more than capable of handling it. Some players are already pushing it on their own.
"Well, especially myself, I tried to play fast," reserve quarterback T.J. Yates tells CultureMap. "I knew I only had the third quarter, so I wanted to get as many plays as we could off in that time. I think we did a good job of playing with urgency."
You could say that. Yates got off 19 plays in the third quarter, two more than his No. 2 quarterback competition Case Keenum managed in the fourth quarter.
Every extra snap counts. Every extra snap is another opportunity.
I don't buy Kubiak's halfhearted protests or the idea that he's resistant to playing with speed. Practiced modesty aside, Kubiak is one of the top offensive minds in football. He's embraced the trend more than people realize. He just might not want to tip the rest of the league off to it yet.
The play count numbers don't lie. Expect the Texans to climb. Quick.