Gallant: Ground Game Grounded
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17 carries. 29 yards. And 1.7 yards per carry.
That. Is. Awful.
Six weeks into 2012, it’s clear that the Texans running game has taken a turn in the wrong direction. Especially since last season, when Foster and Ben Tate were cruising through gargantuan holes and combining for over 2,000 rush yards.
There’s no question about Gary Kubiak’s dedication to grinding it on the ground. Houston has run the ball 211 times this season, second only to New England. But dedication and success are two entirely different things. And Sunday night, the Texans rush attack hit rock bottom.
It hasn’t been the only blip on the radar. The Texans performance against the Jets just a week ago was equally alarming.
Sure, Arian Foster had 152 yards against New York – at that point the second worst run defense in the league. But 46 came on one carry. Take that big play away, and Foster averaged about 3.6 yards per rush. That’s right in line with his season average: 3.8, and down from 4.4 ypc last season.
Here comes the “Well that’s because he’s damn a Vegan” argument.
That’d be wrong. Tate, who spelled Foster to the tune of 5.4 per rush, has also seen a noticeable drop in success on the ground. He’s averaging 4.0 flat.
In the past, we’ve seen Kubiak coached teams pound on the ground with backs plucked off the scrap heap. His zone blocking scheme has allowed no names like Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns, and Steve freaking Slaton to rush for 1,000 yards. Foster and Tate are significantly more talented than any of the aforementioned backs ever were.
So what’s the deal?
Take a look at the right side of the O-Line – which has transformed from two solid starters into a four-man uncertainty brigade. Tackle Derek Newton and guard Antoine Caldwell have been ineffective, a major reason the two are splitting snaps with tackle Ryan Harris and rookie center turned guard Ben Jones.
Note – they haven’t fared much better. Meanwhile, rookie guard Brandon Brooks hasn’t even been activated for a game. With as little depth as the Texans have in the trenches, it’s starting to look like a bad selection.
Things will likely get better for the Texans run game as the season progresses. Especially next week against the Ravens, who were just shredded for 227 rushing yards by the Cowboys. And that was before linebacker Ray Lewis (out for the season) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata left the game with injuries.
But we all said the same thing entering Sunday’s game against Green Bay. This running game – and more importantly, this O-Line – needs to evolve quickly. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see pathetic efforts like Sunday night. And more importantly – losses.