How Greg Jones Can Lead Arian Foster to a Career-Best Season

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMarch 27, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 16:  Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans runs for a touchdown during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 16, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The addition of former Jacksonville Jaguars fullback Greg Jones to the Houston Texans backfield should only mean good things for running back Arian Foster. 

In fact, adding the accomplished lead blocker could be the difference between just another 1,000-yard season and a potentially career-best year for Foster. Recent history shows just how dominant Foster can be with a top blocker in front of him. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed Wednesday that Jones and the Texans agreed to a one-year deal. 

If the reaction to the news from Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is any indication, Foster will be inheriting one of the league's top run-blocking fullbacks:

Jones-Drew's immediate feedback is understandable. 

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Jones has graded out as one of the top-three blocking fullbacks in each of the last three seasons. He finished first in 2010 and third in both 2011 and 2012. 

Running behind Jones from 2009-2011, Jones-Drew averaged 1,440 rushing yards and nine touchdowns despite Jacksonville's lack of passing options. Overall, Jones has paved the way for five different 1,000-yard rushing seasons while with the Jaguars. 

According to ESPN, Jones has also played a part in 37 different 100-yard rushing games in Jacksonville.

Jones' numbers should be music to the ears of Foster, who ran wild in 2010 with another of the NFL's top fullbacks in front of him. 

Working with Vonta Leach—arguably the game's most well-respected lead blocker—Foster posted career-best numbers of 1,616 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns and 4.9 yards per carry. He was a Pro Bowl and first team All-Pro selection. 

With Lawrence Vickers and quasi-fullback James Casey leading the way the past two seasons, Foster's stat lines have dipped slightly. He rushed for 1,224 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns in 13 games in 2011 and 1,424 (4.1) and 15 in 16 games last season. 

Inserting Jones for Casey, who departed to Philadelphia, should—at least on paper—immediately upgrade a Texans' running attack that dropped from No. 2 in the NFL in 2011 to No. 8 last season.

Reviewing one of Jones' better performances from the 2011 season—a 17-3 Jaguars win over the Indianapolis Colts—reveals how Jones could be a perfect lead blocker for an offense like Houston's. 

On this first-down play, the Jaguars run a classic zone-blocking scheme, where the offensive line collapses toward the strong side and the fullback kicks out any backside pursuit. 

Jones does a perfect job, eliminating the free defensive end and allowing Jones-Drew the opportunity to cut back into space. Once in the open field, Jones-Drew only needs to make a cornerback miss. 

These type of runs are staples of the Texans offense, which slants hard one direction while allowing Foster to pick and choose his cut-back lane. With a smart, strong blocker like Jones controlling the back-side pursuit, Foster could have his share of open allies in 2013.

Rarely in today's pass-crazed NFL does a fullback acquisition make any headline noise. This one should be different. 

With a mauler like Jones leading the way next season, Foster might be in line for a year that equals or surpasses what he produced in 2010.