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Moats vs. Slaton: Let’s Take an Unbiased Look

It is no big secret that Steve Slaton has had a rough go at his sophomore season in the NFL. You can blame the offensive line for not giving him any lanes to run through. You can blame him for adding bulk in the offseason. You can even blame the playcalling for making running plays too predictable. All of that is fine and good. But the bottom line remains that he has endured the fabled "Sophomore Slump." Half of an NFL season is a good measuring stick to make that assumption.

And this isn’t even taking into account his fumbling problem, which isn’t as surprising to me as it has been for many of my fellow Texans fans. One of his negatives before the draft was that he had a hard time hanging onto the ball while at West Virginia at times.

But the reaction to his benching against Buffalo last Sunday has been met with mixed feelings from many. Some feel that it was about time and others were criticizing head coach Gary Kubiak for not having patience with a young player going through a hard time. I have to disagree. Kubiak has been more than patient with Steve and has handled it the best way imaginable. By benching him for an entire game, and watching another guy have a career day in his place, had to be an eye-opening experience for Steve. The axiom that "The NFL stands for Not For Long" isn’t just a clever catch phrase.

Then we have his backup, Ryan Moats. A guy who before Sunday was known more for his offseason issues with a Dallas police officer than he was for his play on the field. A guy who has waited patiently for his opportunity and kept his mouth shut and capitalized when his number was called. And when asked after the game if he thought that he should be the starter, he remained humble when he had every reason to brag a little bit.

A third round pick out of Louisiana Tech in 2005, Moats was stuck behind Philadelphia Eagles standout Brian Westbrook for most of his time there. He broke his ankle in the Eagles first preseason game in 2007 and missed the entire season. It would be the last time he played for them, as he was released in the final round of cuts the next season. He stuck around on Arizona’s practice squad for about three weeks before he was released again. Houston quickly snatched him up a week later to their own practice squad. After cutting Darius Walker and multiple injuries to Ahman Green, Moats was promoted to the active roster and quickly rose to second on the depth chart behind Steve Slaton.

Now that you know a little more about the guy, we can move towards the debate. Many are calling for Moats to get the start at Indianapolis this Sunday over Slaton. Yet, others are saying Buffalo’s awful run defense was the only reason he had the breakout performance. Me? I don’t care. I want whoever gives us the best chance to win. I am completely unbiased on the issue.

Of course, I feel that Steve is the more talented player. I mean, the guy is electric and can score almost any time he touches the ball. But, much like Jacoby Jones, you start to hold your breath every time he has the ball now. Seven fumbles in eight games doesn’t even happen in a video game. That is a hell of a bad run. And it isn’t anything that can be corrected without getting the opportunity on the field. But could you imagine the fallout if we are right there about to beat The Colts on Sunday and Steve puts it on the ground, and it turns out to be the play that costs us the game? That would be Sage Rosenfels all over again. And I wouldn’t wish that on any player.

I am all for starting whoever Coach Kubiak chooses and then having them split carries evenly. Let’s see how Ryan Moats runs against someone that isn’t Buffalo. Not that Indy is world-beaters against the run or anything, but at 8-0 they surely aren’t awful.

So, let’s hear it, BRB nation. Who you got starting this Sunday, and why?