Texans running game no better, no worse without Mark Ingram

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The Los Angeles Rams absolutely stomped the Texans on Sunday. There’s simply no getting around it. Despite a respectable final score of 38-22, thanks to three garbage time touchdowns by the offense in the fourth quarter, anyone who watched the game will tell you that Houston was blown out.

This isn’t exactly a surprising outcome, most people understand the now 7-1 Rams to be Super Bowl contenders and the 1-7 Texans are a well-understood bottom feeder of the NFL this year. The only intrigue behind this game was in the individual headlines and fantasy scores, the outcome was never in doubt.

One of the those headlines that many Houston faithful were following was how the run game would fare this week. Mark Ingram, by all accounts the lead back through the team’s first seven games, was shipped out of town to New Orleans on Wednesday for a measly 2024 seventh-round pick.

The transaction left David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Rex Burkhead, and Scottie Phillips as the active running backs on the roster. Specifically, there was a lot of optimism on how Phillips, a seven-year undrafted free agent from Ole Miss, might fair with a chance to finally be active for a game.

Safe to say, it absolutely didn’t matter against Los Angeles. Houston only ran the ball 14 times, a very unusual game script for what’s been a conservative offense under head coach David Culley. The running backs combined for only 44 yards, which may have played a large part in why offensive coordinator Tim Kelly decided to let rookie Davis Mills throw the ball 38 times.

Burkhead led the group with 21 yards off five carries and a touchdown, all of which came in the fourth quarter against the Rams second team defense. Phillips was given five carries, to which he took to the tune of only 11 yards. Somehow second on the team.

Houston averaged 3.1 yards per carry on the ground and the abysmal offensive line has made it virtually impossible to succeed in that facet of the game.

The only direction to go is up for the running game. It would appear that Mark Ingram’s presence nor absence will make any substantial difference in the offense’s success.

The Texans need to not do what they did to Buddy Howell and actually play Phillips during meaningful parts of games, not when it is garbage time.