On Foster and the Texans' outside zone

Cut back runs were far harder to find for Arian Foster in 2012 than in the two years before.

Here’s a good look at what went on with the Texans run game last season, from Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle blog.

A couple key points from his piece on what has to happen for the rushing offense and Foster to get back to form:

  • “The offensive line doesn’t have to move defenders all over the field, but they do have to stalemate defenders more frequently and prevent as much penetration as we saw last year.”

  • “[T]hey must do a better job of securing the edge. … There were way too many times where that ‘edge’ was nothing more than a defender pushing (right tackle Derek) Newton too far into the backfield.”

  • “The problem with cut blocks is that if the [offensive] lineman misses, then the defender is running free. When executed properly, it opens massive creases. The Texans have to do a better job of cutting, and Foster has to make teams fear the back-side lanes once again.”

  • “The Texans have to do a better job of keeping the LBs on the second level rather than letting them take liberties with the run game at the point of attack.”

In 2010 and 2011, Foster averaged 4.7 yards a carry. In 2012 it was 4.1. That’s not an insignificant drop. Over the course of 319 carries -- Foster’s average in his three seasons as the starter -- it’s a difference of 191.4 yards over the season.

I’m not as concerned about Foster’s workload as a lot of other people. Worry about now now, and later later, and now the Texans have one of the most effective backs in the league.

They shouldn’t hesitate to give him the ball.

If they can make the sort of adjustments Zierlein outlines, Foster can go from very good back to great in 2013.