Does Alfred Blue need to be more of a screen pass player?


Don’t look now, but the Houston Texans may surprise some folks here in the middle of the season. Their schedule is set up nicely for them, and their destiny is completely in their hands as they’re only one game behind the division-leading Indianapolis Colts. Alfred Blue may be a big part of this, but he may have to step up and do things a bit differently if he wants to be a part of that.

With Arian Foster out for the first three weeks of the year, Alfred Blue was really expected to step up as one of the running backs. He didn’t do much until week three when he was given 31 attempts, and has since been a bit quiet due to the return of Foster.

Blue may find himself again as one of the leads as Foster was limited in practice on Wednesday and could be listed as questionable when Sunday rolls around.

As far as things are going for Blue, his action has been limited since Foster returned, and that was to be expected. Still, a two-back system is something a lot of teams decide to go with, and I see a major benefit to using both Foster and Blue often, especially when Foster is sore, and their quarterbacks are less than accurate (Hoyer threw below 70% in last week’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars). Even with an increase in his usage, I see some changes that could be made, and could see him fitting into more of a screen pass role than a true running back role.

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Now, to some, this seems a bit out of the ordinary. Last season he was only targeted 18 times altogether, and this season he’s only been targeted four times through six games, so it’s definitely safe to say that this would be a change, but it’s not something that can’t be done.

Looking at the times he was targeted as a receiver, he’s done pretty well. His average yards per reception last year was 7.53, a decent number for someone catching screen passes. This season he’s doing 7.33, so he’s been consistent.

The sample size is very small as far as Blue and screen passing goes, but it’s something I would like to see increased. If it doesn’t work, there’s not much harm done, and he can simply be moved back to the traditional running back role that he was in before.

Screen passes in the NFL have worked. Darren Sproles mastered it in his time with the New Orleans Saints, being targeted 104 times in his 2012 season and pulling in 8.89 yards per reception that season. On his career, he’s done a solid 9.0 yards per reception. Part of what allows guys like Sproles to do this is his height and speed, allowing him to quickly juke and spin around defenders.

Blue clearly isn’t as fast as Sproles, but possesses a more physical skill set that could allow him to plow through, and weave around defenders after catching passes.

It’s something I think the Texans and Blue should be interested in trying out, because clearly something is missing on the offensive side, since they’re 21st out of 32 in total points scored.

It’s all hypothetical, and might not happen whatsoever, but I believe it’s an interesting thing that Blue could help out doing.

Next: Overlooked upside of the Texans schedule

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