One of the most difficult aspects of self-scouting is that more than one thing can be true at the same time. We can look at the Houston Texans run game in general and come away wanting more. We can also look at individual players and be pleasantly surprised with their performance. While those two concepts can seem contradictory, they can be true at the same time.
We can look at the collective stats for the team and for the running backs individually. I’d imagine that both are going to be underwhelming, but I think when we isolate the running backs we will be very alarmed. First, let’s take a look at the totals for the team and where they rank in the NFL.
Rushing Yards: 1,647 (22nd)
Yards per attempt: 3.7 (28th)
That looks bad, but we have to remember a couple of things. Like most teams, the Texans quarterbacks gained some yardage. Bobby Slowik also employed a wide receiver jet sweep and/or reverse or two a game. So, let’s distill out the effects of the quarterbacks and wide receivers and see what happens.
Devin Singletary— 216 carries, 898 yards, 4 TD
Dameon Pierce— 145 carries, 416 yards, 2 TD
Dare Ogunbowale— 6 carries, 35 yards, 0 TD
Andrew Beck— 5 carries, 3 yards, 1 TD
Mike Boone— 5 carries, 23 yards, 0 TD
Total— 377 carries, 1,375 yards, 7 TD, 3.64 yards per carry
Obviously, to truly compare the running back room to other running back rooms I would have to do the same thing across the board. However, we could compare their yards per carry with the rest of the teams in general. Only three teams had lower yards per carry as a whole. The Texans were 25th in rushing touchdowns as well, but that includes three from C.J. Stroud. Three teams tied with seven to finish dead last.
Breaking them Down Individually
Singletary signed a one year deal in the hopes of building some value. You could say he succeeded. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry which was not only far better than the team but ranked 22nd amongst 48 backs with enough carries to qualify. He is not a brilliant receiver out of the backfield, but he became a better threat as the season went along. He is not good enough to be a true number one back, but he is capable of sharing the role if there is another back good enough to share it with him.
Pierce finished last in yards per carry amongst qualifying backs with just 2.9 yards per carry. I can’t think of a single player on the roster that disappointing more than Pierce. Of course, he is still on his rookie deal, so there is no need to cut him or trade him unless someone offered something stupid for him. Still, they will need to upgrade over him for their second back because there just isn’t enough that he does well.
Ogunbowale has been here a couple of seasons and most of us have seen enough. He’s not a bad football player, but roster spots are at a premium and he just doesn’t offer enough to justify one. That is particularly true if Pierce gets demoted to the third back. At least Pierce has some experience as a lead back and showed some flashes as a kick returner. I’m just not sure what Ogunbowale brings to the table.
Beck is a lot like an abstract piece of art. What he brings is in the eye of the beholder. He has three touchdowns (one rushing, one receiver, one kickoff return) and showed some flashes as a receiver. However, most teams don’t employ fullbacks and there is a reason why. Is he one of the better ones? I suppose that depends on how you grade them. PFF is not a huge fan, but I don’t know if we want PFF building our roster.
The Final Verdict
Singletary has expressed interest in coming back to Houston and if he were willing to sign a reasonable short-term contract that would probably be a good move. He gives you a base of performance that could be helpful moving forward. Still, this team needs to get better and in a hurry in this room. There is a group of notable free agents, but we will get to them when we get closer to free agency. There is also the draft, so there are any number of roads the Texans can go down at this point.