Houston Texans: 2015 Running Back Preview


The biggest and most obvious question that faces the Houston Texans this offseason is who will be the quarterback when the 2015 season starts. But the Texans, only a few seasons removed from the best record in franchise history, really have a lot of questions on the field that hopefully will be resolved this offseason.

These include the quarterback position, the defensive backfield, the offensive line, and maybe less notably, the running back position. The Texans were in the top 5 in rushing yards per game last season (2,161 yards), and have been in the top 10 four of the last five seasons. They clearly rely heavily on the run, and the man carrying the ball is crucial to their success.

After a 2014 season which saw Texans running back Arian Foster play only 13 games and struggle with injuries through several others, it seems obvious that there are once again some questions in the Houston backfield. Foster’s production speaks for itself, managing over 1,200 yards and 8 touchdowns in limited action in 13 games is very impressive.

But Foster’s injury history means he can hardly be counted on as a reliable workhorse back in future seasons. Only twice in his career has Foster played a full 16 games, and even though he’s one of the best back’s of the league while healthy, it seems he’s rarely at full strength.

In last year’s draft, the Texans selected running back Alfred Blue, who showed some flashes of potential greatness this season. But he ultimately did not seem to be an immediate star on the field.

Blue reached 528 yards this season, but managed only 3.1 yards per carry. That was good for the lowest yards per carry average of any player in the top 50 in rushing yards this season.

Blue didn’t show signs of making any huge mistakes, but he also didn’t seem to be a dominant player. Along with his few big plays came even more carries where he got one or less yards, and seemed to move slowly and hesitantly.

Should Foster go down, however, Blue would undoubtedly be the next man up, as we saw already in the 2014 season. Hopefully with one year in the league under his belt and a full offseason of working with the team he’ll show us even more growth next year and he’ll step up into a more prominent role.

Texans third string back Jonathan Grimes has even less experience, having a total of only 232 yards on 62 carries in his career. Houston had some high hopes for him early on, but he hasn’t showed a lot of production, in his limited action.

Grimes seems to have the physical tools to be a solid well-rounded running back, but in his three seasons in the league he hasn’t done anything on the field to wow his team.

With Foster only under contract for the next two seasons, it seems about time for the Texans to start grooming his replacement. Hopefully he can carry the load in the future, because there is no question he’s an elite running back in the NFL.

If Foster can’t stay healthy, however, maybe this is the season we get to see Blue or Grimes step into a much more prominent role to see if they have the potential to be the answer for the Texans. With draft and free-agency pictures still up in the air, a lot of things could change between now and August.

Arian Foster himself is an example of the Texans success in finding star players on the fringes of the league, so we’ll be on the lookout to see who the Texans have their eyes on next. Who knows, maybe if we’re lucky we’ll even get to see J.J. Watt line up at tailback a few times next season.

Next: J.J. Watt Has No 'Off' Switch

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