HOUSTON -- Three weeks ago, the Houston Texans boasted one of the league's premier running games, on full display in a 34-17 win against Tennessee when they trampled the Titans to the tune of 281 rushing yards.
In their three games following their Week 10 bye, the Texans had more rushing yards than passing yards.
Since that Week 12 performance against Tennessee, the rushing yards have fallen off for three straight weeks -- nearly halved from the week prior each time -- to be reduced to an abysmal 47 rushing yards on 17 carries in Saturday's 29-22 win against the New York Jets.
Starting running back Lamar Miller left the game with an ankle injury following a 1-yard gain during Houston's first possession, and backup running back Alfred Blue handled the bulk of the carries after that.
As bad as it is, Houston's total team rushing line and the 2.7 yards per carry are actually misleading. Take away quarterback Deshaun Watson's four scrambles for 26 yards and a 7-yard carry on a reverse to receiver DeAndre Carter, and Texans running backs combined for just 14 yards on 12 carries against the Jets.
Though Texans coach Bill O'Brien on Monday declined to discuss the details of Miller's injury and his status for Sunday's game in Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET, CBS), he said the recent struggles in the running game are attributable to more aspects of the offense than just the running backs.
"I think everybody's involved in that," O'Brien said. "I think we've got to do a better job upstairs coaching-wise. Then, the guys up front -- tight ends, line, running backs, everybody -- everybody's got to do a better job. We're all involved in trying to get that improved."
O'Brien also credited the Jets and the Colts in the previous week for doing a good job against Houston's running game. Though Indianapolis is in the NFL's top 10 against the run, New York is closer to the bottom 10 and had allowed an average of 183.2 yards per game in their previous four games before stifling Houston.
If Miller's ankle injury lingers throughout the week, O'Brien said bringing D'Onta Foreman back into the mix could be an option. Foreman hasn't played since suffering a torn Achilles last November, but O'Brien said he has had a good two weeks of practice and has looked good on the practice field.
In 10 games last season as a rookie, Foreman ran for 327 yards and two touchdowns on 78 carries.
O'Brien was asked on Monday what he would need to see from Foreman this week to prove he's ready for game action.
"I just want to see good vision, good knowledge of how the play's being blocked, decisive running, continuing to improve in his knowledge of pass protections -- just good solid play. Take care of the ball, number one."
The rushing yards have seen ebbs and flows for Houston, but ball security has been a constant throughout the season. The Texans rank third in the NFL with 420 carries, but are tied for fourth with just three fumbles and have lost only one of those fumbles, tied for second.
Though it can be difficult to gauge a running back such as Foreman's readiness in practice, O'Brien said drills against ball security is often a point of emphasis.
"I think you have to get your scout team tuned in to trying to strip the ball, punch the ball out," O'Brien said. "You have to do a bunch of drills. You've got to make sure -- because I think if you look at our football team, that's one thing that we've done very well over the last however many weeks, is we've taken care of the ball ... on offense and on special teams on our return units, for the most part. Then, we've taken the ball away on defense. I think that has to continue. That has to be drilled in practice."