HOUSTON -- Though the Houston Texans have some holes to fill on offense during the offseason, one position they are set at is running back. Last offseason, in an effort to find a consistent runner who could stay healthy, the Texans signed former Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller to a four-year, $26 million deal.
Thus far, it has paid off.
The Texans also tried to find their franchise quarterback last March when they signed Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract, but that has not worked out well. Osweiler struggled during his first season in Houston, throwing more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15) and getting benched in favor of backup Tom Savage in Week 15. Osweiler came in as relief for Savage two weeks later and was named the starter for the playoffs after Savage suffered a concussion.
Because of these struggles, the Texans became a run-first offense, calling a run play 42.5 percent of the time, according to ESPN Stats & Information. During the season, former offensive coordinator George Godsey called Miller a key to the Texans’ offense because their identity had been to run the ball first.
Miller had 299 touches during the regular season, the eighth-most in the NFL among running backs. He finished with 1,073 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 268 carries. He played through multiple injuries for most of the second half of the season, and missed two games due to an ankle injury. Miller's touch count was by far the highest of his five-year NFL career.
There are plenty of questions for the Texans on offense, especially at quarterback. Because Osweiler is guaranteed $16 million next season, it does not make sense for Houston to cut him. Though Savage's time as the Texans' starting quarterback ended due to injury, he did not put up very good numbers in his limited time.
Coach Bill O'Brien said at his season-ending news conference that he did not know whether Houston would draft a quarterback in April, but the Texans likely need to find a cheap option at quarterback to compete with Osweiler and Savage during the offseason and training camp.
The Texans also have questions on the offensive line. The strongest performance on the line came from veteran left tackle Duane Brown, who recovered from a significant quadriceps injury he suffered last season. Brown anchored the offensive line, especially after right tackle Derek Newton tore the patellar tendons in both legs in Week 7.
So, even though there are several areas of the offense that need improvement -- as with most NFL teams -- the Texans don't have to worry about the running back position because of the stability Miller provides.