What Is Wrong With Arian Foster?
By Emin Avakian
In the aftermath of yet another subpar performance, the question needs to be asked: What is wrong with Arian Foster?
The fifth-year all-pro running back made headlines in the days prior to the tilt with the Baltimore Ravens for admitting to accepting money while in college at Tennessee. On Sunday, however, Foster was near silent, as he rushed for 54 yards in Houston's 30-9 defeat at the hands of the defending champions.
Through three regular season games this season, Foster has accumulated 190 yards on 49 carries, and has scored one touchdown--dissapointing undoubtedly for the franchise leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. Moreover, he has not reached the century mark in a single game and currently ranks 12th in rushing yards, trailing the likes of Bilal Powell and leading teammate and backup running back Ben Tate by just six yards.
Despite the struggles, the Texans have survived without their superstar, managing an early and respectable 2-1 record. As a team, the Texans are near the top of the list in rushing offense, averaging 128.7 yards per game.
Still, the question needs to be asked: What is wrong with Arian Foster?
One explanation could be Foster is not healthy due to lingering injuries and is still getting back into football shape after missing the entire preseason. Foster has been on the injury report with an array of issues (calf, chest, thumb, back).
On the other hand, Foster has not missed an opportunity to claim he is 'game ready' and 'ready to carry the load.'
On a related note, perhaps the three-time pro bowler is being used cautiously by head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. The Texans rank third in the NFL in passing attempts. Of their 214 total plays, Matt Schaub has dropped back to pass 128 times (near 60%). Foster has caught eight of those balls for 37 yards.
The counter argument is Kubiak and Dennison would like a balanced offense, and despite solid numbers from Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins and Owen Daniels, the Texans need Foster to get going if they are going to meet their Super Bowl aspirations.
One could argue that Kubiak is splitting carries between Foster and Tate, and it is affecting Foster's production and rhythm. However, Foster has rushed the ball 49 times to Tate's 27, and has not shown any dominance for Kubiak to shy away from Tate.
The potential problem going forward is that Foster has not shown the effectiveness of past seasons. At the age of 27, he has not yet reached the end of the ephemeral life span of a professional running back, and is presumably in the prime of his career. If injuries are not the cause of the slow start to the season, then Foster will need to get it going for a Texans squad that needed their defense to secure a season-opening victory over the Chargers and overtime to defeat the Tennessee Titans before falling to the Ravens.
It doesn't get easier for Foster and the Texans, as they host the undefeated Seattle Seahaws.
For whatever reason, AF can not catch the ball this year. Tate is being put in for blocking and pass situations more than AF and is showing a lot of promise. Tate is also our downhill runner, quicker out of the backfield when we need a direct to line runner. Both backs are good at continuing to drive after the first hit and gain about 15% of their yards that way. AF was good in prior years when the line would blow holes open on directional plays. This year, it seems like those kinds of plays are anticipated more by the defense and not as successful, therefore he is not getting the yards. Although he is a good running back, he got more praise than he deserved in the prior years because of riding on the offensive line work. Most good backs would have wracked up the same yards.