NFL

NFL AM: Arian Foster Hangs Up The Cleats

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Foster Says No More

One of the greatest undrafted players in the history of the NFL has decided to hang up the cleats, as Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster is leaving the NFL for good.

Foster was trying to come back from a torn Achilles last season, and with the emergence of running back Jay Ajayi, it was pretty easy for the team to let him walk away.

The former Tennessee Volunteers then Houston Texans star issued this statement.

“This game has been everything to me … my therapy, my joy, my solace and my enemy,” Foster wrote via Uninterrupted.com. “I’ve learned to love every facet of this game, from the peak of accomplishment to the gutter of criticism. And it all makes the ride worthwhile. I’ve been fortunate enough to play many successful years in this league. I’ve given a lot to this game and given up a lot for it. But it has returned to me more than I could have ever asked for.

“Faceless gladiators have been shuffled in and out of this arena for decades and I’m proud to have taken part in that legacy. My father always said, ‘You’ll know when it’s time to walk away.’ It has never been more clear than right now. I’m walking away with peace. I know it’s not commonplace to do it midseason, but my body just can’t take the punishment this game asks for any longer. … Every athlete would love to go out as a Super Bowl MVP, riding off into the sunset with the crowd cheering their name. Unfortunately, life has other plans and they’re usually opposite the imagination. But that imagination got me this far and I could not be prouder of the things my teammates and I accomplished in this game.”

Foster was not only a great running back who was lethal out of the backfield as a runner and pass catcher, he was also outspoken on many issues and an introspective, joy to talk to as a reporter.  He had somewhat of a chip on his shoulder from achieving stardom the tough way, as an undrafted free agent.  Foster had to bide his time behind Steve Slaton in 2009, before a late season injury gave him an opportunity to shine.

Fantasy football helped make Foster a household name, and he rewarded his owners year after year.

Among all players with a minimum of 1,000 touches since 2010, per NFL Research, he finishes his career ranked first in yards from scrimmage per game (115.2) and 100-yard rushing games (31) and is tied for the lead in touchdowns from scrimmage (65). His 84.7 rushing yards per game rank second during that span.

He will forever be known as a Houston Texan and along with J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson, Foster is easily a Top 3 player in that franchise’s brief history.

“The time that I spent in Houston was an amazing time,” Foster said. “I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the family that I made there. My family lives there now, so I have nothing but love for the people and fans in Houston. It is just a new chapter of my life. There’s nothing that I have to prove. I’m pretty sure Lamar feels the same way. There is nothing he has to prove. We are all on our own personal journey helping out where we can and doing what we love to do. It’s as simple as that.”

The NFL is a brief experience for a lot of stars, and the recent retirements of Foster and Calvin Johnson are proving just that.  We wish our fantasy heroes well in their next careers.

Texans, AFC South Again Prove Their Mediocrity

If the NFL had a “Power 5” setup, the AFC South would probably be Conference USA, or maybe the Sun Belt.

The Houston Texans were stomped by the Denver Broncos on Monday night, 27-9, in a game which really wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate.  Texans free agent acquisition Brock Osweiler was supposed to catapult the team to the next level, but seven games into the costly, $72 million experiment, it appears that Houston may have been better off retaining Brian Hoyer.

Osweiler completed just 22 of 41 throws, for 131 yards, with a fumble.  He was simply unable to move the football for most of the night, and has played in similar fashion all season long.

“He’s a great kid. I talked to him after the game,” Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said of his former quarterback. “I was concerned there late in the game because of what he did last week even though we had a two-score lead.”

Last week, Osweiler led Houston back from a late 14-point deficit for an overtime win against the Colts, but there was no comeback against this defense.

“He’s into the game on every snap,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s got good poise, tough environment. We all have to do better. Everyone has got to do better.”

The loss dropped Houston to 0-3 on the road, but they remain the class of the AFC South.

How bad is the division?  Let’s look at the non-divisional victories amongst the four teams:  Houston (4-3) has beaten Chicago and Kansas City (both at home); Tennessee (3-4) has beaten Detroit, Miami and Cleveland; Indianapolis (3-4) has beaten San Diego and Chicago; And Jacksonville’s (2-4) only victory outside the division came at the hands of the lowly Chicago Bears.

The NFL is concerned about their diminishing television ratings and Thursday’s AFC South clash between the Titans and Jaguars isn’t likely to fill up living rooms and/or sports bars.  The good news is that it’s rare when 2-4 and 3-4 teams can convince themselves that they have legitimate shots at winning the division.

Jay Cutler’s Back As Bears Starter

We assumed that when Brian Hoyer went down in Thursday evening’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, opening day starter Jay Cutler’s thumb would have a miraculous recovery.  Those assumptions came to fruition on Monday when Chicago Bears head coach John Fox announced that Cutler would be healthy enough to play.

“At the end of the day, obviously Jay’s our starter,” Fox asserted. “He was injured and not permitted to play medically. And now that he’s healed, he’s back to being our starter. That’s really the facts and kind of what happened and where we’re at now.”

As for the last month of Cutler-versus-Hoyer speculation?

“Some things that I say go somewhere that I wasn’t really intending,” Fox said. “I don’t know that there was a competition to speak of.”

In reality there was no only a competition, but Hoyer was winning it with superior play.  Cutler was simply an insurance policy if the Hoyer audition went poorly.  Unfortunately for the journeyman from Michigan State, he will likely have to go on Injured Reserve.

What would have been interesting is if backup Matt Barkley played well.  Would Fox have extended Cutler’s rest another week to get a better look at the 25-year old from USC?

“I don’t think there are any givens. And that’s no indictment on anybody. This is a day-to-day, week-to-week, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league,” said Fox

A week later, the Bears coach doubled down on that sentiment, asserting that Cutler’s health would not be the only determining factor in his playing status.

“I think it’s performance-based,” Fox said. “So anybody that’s performing well, I don’t think we’re going to be likely to change.”

With Hoyer hurt and Barkley showing that he can’t play at this level, the second-year Bears coach has all of his eggs migrated back into the Cutler basket.

“One thing I’ve found in Jay in the time I’ve been here is that he’s very tough-minded and resilient,” Fox said. “Obviously he went through a stretch where it’s tough not being able to play. And watching somebody else play your position is never easy for any competitor at any position. But I think he’s handled it great and I think he’ll handle it great moving forward.”

It seems likely that Cutler won’t be back in Chicago next year, but if he doesn’t play well Fox and company may be looking for work elsewhere as well.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.