The majority of the latest Texans news from mainstream sources seems to be focused on J.J. Watt’s physical condition, Brock Osweiler’s fiscal position, or DeAndre Hopkins’ contract situation. Through media blasts of J.J.’s new footwear line, his back surgery, whether or not Osweiler felt maligned by Elway and company, or any other headline-grabber, the engine that’s going to drive the Texans' coming season has gone unnoticed and nearly unmentioned.
Sure, Hopkins' contract, J.J.'s footwear, and Osweiler's relationship with Elway are good storylines, but let’s bring it back to earth. The real thing to get excited about is the coming ground assault. The Texans are first and foremost a running team.
Last year, the Texans' running back committee combined for 418 carries, down from 479 in 2014. The 418 carries racked up 1,573 yards – that’s 3.7 yards per carry for those keeping track at home. Now, let’s plug Lamar Miller’s career average into the Bulls On Parade running attack and see what happens.
With last year’s 418 attempts, Miller would have racked up 1,922 yards. If he carried closer to the 2014 total, (let’s be conservative and call it 450) he lands at 2,070 yards. Now, that’s way too many carries for Miller in one season, but Houston also grabbed California Top Fuel Dragster Tyler Ervin in the draft. So, let’s say Miller has a conservative 350 carries, maintaining his career average of 4.6 yards/carry; he’ll gobble up over 1,600 yards this season. Add in 400-600 from the rest of the running back room, and all Brock Osweiler needs to do is hand the ball off on the way to cashing his paychecks.
Oh, and don’t get me started on Miller’s receiving yards.
Okay, you talked me into it.
Last year, Miller gained 397 yards on 47 catches for an average of 8.4 yards per reception. The Texans' running backs accounted for 85 receptions for 1,102 yards, or 12.96 yards per reception. If Miller gets the same number of catches that he got last year, which is unlikely, Miller should get 609 receiving yards. Even if you go conservative and give Miller the same percentage of receptions that Arian Foster got in 2014 (the last year he played even close to a full season), that gets Miller to 37 receptions for 479 yards. Either way, it's a major boost in production to have one set of hands getting the majority of catches instead of seven.
So don’t worry about J.J.’s surgery (based on his history, he’ll have healed by next Friday), Osweiler’s inexperience (check out John Gruden’s QB Camp analysis to get jazzed) or Nuk-Da-Bomb’s holdout that really was just a day off (like anyone doubts he’s gonna get paid?).
Nope, no need to worry about any of that. It’s about to be Miller Time, and Lamar’s got this.