Can Alfred Blue be ‘The Guy’ for the Texans?


Nobody can really say they are particularly surprised about Arian Foster’s achilles injury. Sure it’s a new ailment, but at the end of the day we all knew that Foster’s body simply wouldn’t hold up. Nobody knows this better than the Houston Texans front office, so when they drafted running back Alfred Blue in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, they did so knowing at some point Blue may have to step up and be ‘The Guy’ for them at running back. The questions remains though: is he ready?

Just by looking at Alfred Blue’s college statistics, you would never have assumed this was a guy destined for the NFL. He finished his four-year career at LSU with just over 1,300 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns. By contrast, current LSU running back Leonard Fournette has 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns through seven games of the 2015 season.

You have to dive a bit deeper to figure out what exactly the Houston Texans saw in Blue when they drafted him a year ago. It wasn’t his speed (4.63 40 time at the combine) or his experience (7 starts in 4 seasons), but his physical traits and natural instincts that drew the Texans to him.

At 6’2″ 225lbs, Blue has excellent size to be an NFL tailback. He’s not the fastest of players, but he has enough speed to break off some big gains, even if he isn’t a threat to break an 80-yard score every play. He has a natural vision, and when watching him play its clear that when he gets into the game, he can find the holes and is able to read the field as well as anyone.

Arguably Blue’s biggest weakness is his tendency to run upright, which doesn’t give him much leverage to run over defenders or drive them back on contact. While this style of running can make it easier for him to make quick cuts, it also creates a lot of no-gain or short-loss plays. Often when Blue is met at the line of scrimmage, he is the one being pushed backwards, instead of driving the defender back for an extra yard or two.

"“Arian was a three-down back,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said (via The Tennessean’s Jason Wolf). “He could do a lot of things obviously in the backfield, but he could also do (well) on the perimeter as a receiver. Now we have guys that each have different types of strengths. … So we’re going to have certain plays for certain guys. All three of those guys have been productive for us at times this year.”"

While it’s tough to completely change one’s style of play, I think the more experience Blue gets, the more he will learn about the best possible running technique.