Carlos Hyde produced a career-high with 1,070 rushing yards in the Houston Texans’ offense in 2019.
Even though the former San Francisco 49ers 2014 second-round pick wasn’t going to return to Houston, the production showcased what any running back could do in Houston’s offense.
This line of thinking is what coach and general manager Bill O’Brien used to gamble in the construction of the 2020 roster. Instead of using the club’s second or third-round selections to take a younger running back, O’Brien traded three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, and picked up former 2016 All-Pro running back David Johnson.
If Hyde could get 1,000 yards in this offense, what could Johnson do?
To date, 479 yards and four touchdowns on 121 carries through 10 games — barely half of what Hyde was able to accomplish in Houston.
To scrounge for Houston’s four wins, the Texans had to saddle up quarterback Deshaun Watson and ask him to play at an elite level. He didn’t have a running back to reinforce him as he did the year before. If Watson couldn’t keep up, the Texans were toast.
The New Orleans Saints proved how vital it is to have a running back that can take the heat off the quarterback. Drew Brees threw two interceptions and not a single touchdown in the Saints’ 52-33 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day. However, Alvin Kamara had the team’s back as he scored six rushing touchdowns, tying an NFL record.
Instead of getting rid of one of the best receivers in the game because the organization didn’t want the distraction of a contract holdout, the Texans could have kept Hopkins and drafted A.J. Dillon, Zack Moss, or La’Michal Perine. Maybe they are in position to trade up and hop past the Baltimore Ravens and take J.K. Dobbins. Instead, Houston goes older at running back and asks their franchise quarterback to do even more than he had to in 2019.
The Texans don’t have a run game that can take the pressure off Watson in any capacity. The new general manager and new coach must figure out a way to do so if Houston is to get back into future playoff races.
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