How Arian Foster's injury impacts Texans
Sunday was rough all around for the Houston Texans. Not only were they blown out 44-16 in Miami, but it appears they lost running back Arian Foster to another season-ending injury.
Foster has been injury-prone since college, where he underwent surgery three times, including once for his knee. Foster injured his knee again in his rookie season, and missed the first three games of 2015 with a groin injury incurred in the preseason.
When he’s not hurt, Foster is a huge part of the Texans’ offense. Last season, he had the second-best breakaway percentage for a running back (35.7) and sixth-best elusive rating (52.2).
Unfortunately, Bill O’Brien’s offense lacks any additional running back talent on the roster with those types of attributes.
The most likely candidates to replace Foster include second-year RB Alfred Blue and fourth-year RB Chris Polk, who owned two of the six worst overall running back grades in the league through Week 3, prior to Foster’s return.
It also doesn’t help that the offense lacks a true No. 1 quarterback, so the pressure will be on veteran Brian Hoyer to continue his solid play of late.
Hoyer had a career-best PFF grade last week (+5.0) in his first start since opening week, with 293 yards passing and three touchdowns. Early indicators are that he played reasonably well again on Sunday, with three more touchdown passes in a losing effort.
Without Foster, Hoyer will have to rely even more on fifth-ranked (entering Week 7) PFF wide-receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins, a former first-round pick from Clemson, is blossoming into one of the league’s most dangerous weapons. He ranks seventh in deep pass rating percentage (29.2) and eighth in yards per route run (2.50).
The defense will also have to be much better than it was on Sunday. The Texans pass rush ranked 21st entering Week 7, thanks largely to J.J. Watt, who is on his way to another monster year, and now it’s now more imperative than ever for another injury-prone player to join Watt in tormenting opposing offenses.
OLB Jadeveon Clowney registered his first career sack today, and is having a solid season (78.1 entering Week 7) after missing most of his rookie year with a knee injury.
If the Texans are going to compete in the feeble AFC South, Houston will need many players to step up in Foster’s absence—on both sides of the ball.