In the offseason, the Houston Texans decided to part ways with right tackle Eric Winston. His pass protection skills were adequate, but his real strength was in the run game. In his career, Winston has been known as a strong run blocker who punishes would-be tacklers. This style fit the Houston offense perfectly as they love to pound backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate. In 2011, Foster rushed for more than 1,200 yards and average 4.4 yards per carry. Tate was able to rack up 942 yards averaging 5.4 yards per carry. In 2010, Foster ran for 1,616 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry.
Obviously all the Texans running success can not be attributed to one offensive line, but even good runners cannot open the holes for themselves. In week one against the Miami Dolphins,the running game could not get rolling. Foster managed to get 79 yards on the ground but only managed 3.0 yards per carry while Tate had five carries for six yards, giving him an average of 1.2 yards. It seems that the new right tackle Derek Newton is struggling a bit in replacing Winston in the running game.
Against the Atlanta Falcons, the Kansas City Chiefs and Eric Winston were able to get the running game moving. Running back Jamaal Charles managed 87 yards with a per carry average of 5.4 yards, which is a little inflated because he had one run for 46 yards.
It is too early to tell if Winston will help push the Chiefs running game to the next level or if the Texans running game will struggle in his absence. It will, however, be interesting to see how each team fares as the year progresses.
This article is by Joe Serenka, Rant Sports Houston Texans Blogger. You can see more of his articles at http://www.rantsports.com/nfl/author/joeserenka/And you can follow him on twitter at @Texansblogster