Football Outsiders continues its Plugging the Holes series, in which it targets the offseason issues facing each team in the NFL by division. For more information on the stats that FBO uses, please go here.
Houston Texans: Can Slaton bounce back?
Steve Slaton's rookie season was the stuff dreams are made of. His 1,282 rushing yards set a Texans franchise record and led all first-year players in 2008. Those dreams turned to nightmares in 2009, though, as Slaton rushed for just 437 yards at a clip of 3.3 yards per carry. He also fumbled five times on just 131 carries. (Adrian Peterson led all running backs with six fumbles, but he also carried the ball 314 times.) Slaton was finally placed on injured reserve after Week 12 with a neck injury.
Slaton was even worse by Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, finishing last in the league in all three statistics we use to evaluate running backs: DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average, which measures value on a per-carry basis), DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement, which measures total value) and success rate (which measures how often a runner gains meaningful yardage). Although Slaton's speed and open-field ability made him a very effective receiver (he finished third among running backs in receiving DVOA and second in receiving DYAR), he was pretty clearly the least potent ground threat in football in 2009.