When the Houston Texans suit up for Week One against the Jacksonville Jaguars, they will begin a new era of Houston Texans football, including a backfield committee of Dameon Pierce and Devin Singletary.
The Texans have historically used a bell cow-type running back such as Arian Foster, Dominic Davis, and Steve Slaton. When the Texans utilized a backfilled-by-committee approach, it was typically due to their lack of an every-down running back. Based on last season's results, Dameon Pierce is that kind of running back.
Does that mean that if the Texans don't prioritize Pierce and share carries with Singletary, they don't believe he is a bell cow running back?
In short, no. The Texans' blueprint to success comes from two historically great franchises: The New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. With general manager Nick Casario, whose upbringing in the NFL was in New England, structuring the roster, you could assume he will do what the Patriots always did. The Patriots always created competition at every position, including their history of utilizing a multi-running back backfield. That's just how he believes success can be achieved, and the proof is in the pudding in New England.
As for the offensive coordinator, Bobby Slowick, If you look at the last five years in San Francisco, they continuously went through more than two running backs a season due to injuries. Outside of getting Superstar running back Christian McCaffrey in a trade last season, they never had a number-one running back. Those fears of a running back getting hurt are valid, seeing as Pierce was unable to finish his rookie season after he was given the bulk of carries, and his running style led to a season-ending ankle injury.
When the Texans brought in Devin Singletary on a one-year, $4 million deal, it opened the door for this new backfield system. Singletary is a good running back, finishing with over a thousand yards from scrimmage his last two years in Buffalo and averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Pierce averaged 4.3 yards per carry last season.
It won't be a slight on Pierce if the Texans use Singletary 35 to 45% of the time. They have two different running styles that complement each other incredibly well, and Pierce would be the first to tell you he could use fewer touches to stay healthy.
How will the Houston Texans utilize both running backs?
It'll be similar for those who remember the thunder-and-lightning approach of the early 2000s Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott. Singletary will play the role of third-down running back, while Pierce is the hammer on the first two downs.
This plays on both running back strengths, as Pierce can unleash fury in between the tackles on the first two downs while Singletary is elite in pass protecting, and catching can be best utilized on passing downs.
The results of this split in pairing could lead to a top-five rushing attack from the Houston Texans in 2023. Another fruit of this split is the expected health of both running backs. The Texan's offense hit a full stop when Pierce went down last season. With Singletary in line taking ten to 15 touches a game from Pierce, it should help to keep him healthy throughout the season.