So much can change in a year. Despite playing the same team in the same time slot in the same round of the playoffs as last year, the Bengals match up much better against the Texans than they did last time around.
Both teams run a similarly traditional West Coast offense with a zone-based running game and coverage-based pass schemes designed to isolate defenders. The Texans offense especially is designed to punish defenders for neglecting their assignments and becoming overly aggressive.
Last week against the Colts, the Arian Foster ripped off a cutback on a stretch zone run to take advantage of the same kind of over-aggressiveness that the Bengals have a tendency to display when the defense becomes frustrated.
Although the backside defensive end is trying to maintain outside leverage against the Texans’ highly underrated left tackle, Duane Brown, the team aggressively pursues to the attack point of the zone run. By chasing down Foster and neglecting to stay within their gap assignments, the Colts opened up a large amount of open room for Foster to find a cutback lane. With his explosiveness, Foster will always punish a defense in this situation.
On this play from last year’s matchup, Geno Atkins demonstrates the best formula to disrupt Foster and the zone running game. Atkins has stood up center Scott Wells completely at this point and is dominating the battle of leverage. This disrupts Foster and does not allow him to let the blocking develop a lane for him to run. Atkins forces the decision prematurely and is able to drop Foster for a loss.