Steve Slaton (Getty Images)
The biggest disappointment for the Texans this season has been the back-slide of their running game. When they went to training camp, the last thing the coaches were worried about was their running game, featuring second-year back Steve Slaton.
Last season Slaton rushed for 1,282 yards, averaged 4.8 yards a carry and scored 10 touchdowns. He had 1,659 yards from scrimmage.
This season, Slaton has 437 yards and a 3.3-yard average, and has scored seven touchdowns, including three rushing.
During Slaton's rookie season, not a single regular on the offensive line missed a start because of an injury. This season, he lost starting guards Chester Pitts and Mike Brisiel early.
Before the injuries, though, the Texans still didn't run effectively. The problem began in preseason and has persisted ever since.
Slaton lost two fumbles as a rookie. He lost five in his first eight games this season.
With four games left, the Texans average 3.4 yards a carry. Slaton can't play because he's experiencing numbness in his shoulder and thumb. He's seeing a specialist about the problem.
Chris Brown and Ryan Moats aren't any more effective than Slaton. The Texans average 88.7 rushing yards a game, tying them for 29th.
Only once in his four seasons as head coach has the running game not been a source of irritation for Gary Kubiak. If he returns for a fifth season -- or even if he doesn't -- running back should be a huge priority in the off-season.