Are the Texans Mishandling Arian Foster?

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystSeptember 10, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans looks on before taking on the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 9, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Houston Texans eked out a three-point win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night, propelled to victory by 346 passing yards and three scores from quarterback Matt Schaub.

The Texans also rushed for 120 yards against a San Diego run defense that ranked sixth in the NFL last year, utilizing a two-headed attack of Arian Foster and Ben Tate to win 31-28.

At least one of those heads didn't appear too pleased with the arrangement.

Foster needs to get over himself.

Yes, over the past three years Foster has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL.

However, as you can see, Foster's yards-per carry average has steadily dropped over the past three seasons. Not only did Foster average a career-low 4.1 yards per tote last year, but he also carried the ball a career-high 351 times.

Throw in the back and calf issues that cost Foster most of training camp and all of the preseason, and it made a ton of sense to get Tate involved on the ground.

A look at how the two backs performed against the Chargers bears that out even more.

Granted, some of Foster's struggles Monday may have been a matter of conditioning. It could also be that three years of heavy workloads have taken their toll.

Had Tate not gotten hurt last year, Foster wouldn't have seen the workload he did anyway. In 2011, the Texans employed something of a committee backfield. It worked to great success.

That year, the Texans were also second in the NFL in rushing, trailing only the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos.

There's an old saying...something about not fixing what isn't broken.

All this isn't to say that Arian Foster won't still be the lead back in Houston. He's a better receiver than Tate, and had over twice as many touches against San Diego.

However, it would be foolish for the Texans to leave a back of Tate's skills to rot on the bench. Not only does he improve Houston's ground game, but using Tate to spell Foster also decreases the chances that Foster will wear down later in the season.

In short, the Texans need to do what gives them the best chance to win. A two-headed backfield does that.

Arian Foster will just have to deal with it.


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