There are a few things that the success or failure of the Houston Texans will hinge on in the upcoming 2013 season. First, keeping quarterback Matt Schaub upright and healthy. Second, finding another receiver to go along with All-Pro Andre Johnson. But probably the biggest factor of all is riding on the massive thighs of running back Arian Foster.
It’s not often you talk about an undrafted free agent being the bread-and-butter of a team, but in the case of Foster, it’s the absolute truth. He came into the league with a chip on his shoulder, ready to prove his doubters wrong–and boy has he ever done that and more.
Since taking over as the starting running back in 2010, Foster has been the horse pulling the Texans offense. Everything Houston does relies on the play action pass, and if the running game isn’t clicking, Matt Schaub takes a licking. While it’s well documented that Schaub can get the ball downfield with the best of them, it can’t happen without Foster doing what he does best at a high level.
When Foster has been injured in the past, Houston has had some able replacements–such as Ben Tate–but there is just a different sense in the huddle when Foster is there and running at full capacity. This season the Texans will need some prime Arian if they want to avoid the late-season funk they found themselves in during the 2012 season.
When things are going right for the Texans, as they were during the 11-1 start to 2012, Foster normally carries the ball 20+ times, and will easily surpass the century mark in yardage gained. The one loss during that span, to the Green Bay Packers, Foster carried the ball 17 times for 29 yards.
Then towards the end of the season, either Foster was running out of gas or the coaching staff was running out of ideas, because Houston dropped three of their last four games, with Foster only carrying the ball over 20 times once (in the win over the Indianapolis Colts), and totaling 46, 15, and 96 yards in the three losses.
That is the clear sign of a team being literally carried on the legs of their star running back, and with the daunting schedule the Texans face in 2013, it’s going to take a herculean effort from Foster to carry them further than the Divisional Playoff game, where the Texans stumbled in 2012.
Feed a healthy Foster the rock, and let him pound it. The rest will fall into place for the Texans.