Mike Clay recently ranked every backfield in the NFL, and his findings are not encouraging if you’re a fan of the Houston Texans. In Clay’s view, the Texans boast the second-worst running back crew in the entire league, ahead of only the Indianapolis Colts. He writes:
31. Houston Texans
Top three backs: Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Alfred Blue
Projected unit stats: 381 carries, 1,511 yards, 9 TDs; 55 receptions, 435 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: Bill O’Brien’s run-heavy offense has ranked No. 1 in the league with 1,236 rushing attempts over the past three seasons. Assuming that continues, Miller won’t be short on carries early on, but we can’t be sure he holds on to the job after two years of ugly efficiency. He finished ahead of only Joe Mixon in PFF’s elusive rating last season after finishing third to last in 2016. He posted a career-low 3.73 yards per carry in 2017 and played fewer snaps than Blue in Weeks 15 through 17. If a changing of the guard is on tap, Foreman is the man to watch. The 2017 third-round pick looked solid on 140 snaps before tearing an Achilles tendon last season. He’s a major question mark but offers this group some upside.
I’m one of those people who’s extremely skeptical the Texans will get anything out of D’Onta Foreman this season, so Clay’s analysis might somehow be too optimistic for me. I’m also more bullish on Lamar Miller than many Texans fans, but there’s no denying he hasn’t lit the world on fire since he came to Houston as a free agent a little more than two years ago. While it’s entirely reasonable to attribute a hefty portion of Miller’s struggles to a poor offensive line and/or questionable play design given what we thought were Miller’s strengths with the Dolphins, I don’t think you can put it all on the offensive line or Bill O’Brien. Back in Houston on a one-year deal after presumably finding a frigid market for his services in free agency, Alfred Blue’s most significant contributions come on special teams; that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement of him as a running back.
Is Houston’s RB corps truly this poor? Or is this a case of seeing a sky that’s not really falling?