Welcome friends to the Torotimes Houston Texans 2014 Season Preview – Defense. We’re going to break down the Texans defense and expectations for the kick off of the Bill O’Brien Era in Houston. Wade Phillips 1 gap hybrid 3-4 defense has been replaced by Romeo Crennel’s 2 gap 3-4. That might not seem like much of a difference but I promise you the underlying approaches are almost night and day. How that will effect J.J. Watt is the question we all have. Will he be hampered or is Crennel flexible enough to understand you don’t waste a talent like Watt closing up running lanes to let the line backers have a shot at the quarterback?
The Front Line:
Anchored by all around expert defensive superstar J. J. Watt this years defense come with some real weight behind it. By that I mean big men in the middle. Louis Nix III, drafted in the third round from Notre Dame is a mere 6′ 2” 331lbs. That was our first clue that gone are the lighter more nimble nose tackles and in their place will be a wall of raw power. Nix has been dealing with some injuries and will not start. That position belongs to Jarrell Powel, incidentally he stands in at the same height and weight as Louis Nix. He’s starting his fourth year in the NFL. His previous home? Kansas City. With the Chiefs he earned the trust of Romeo Crennel, and his familiarity with what Crennel expects will greatly help the front line. Finally Jared Crick will start opposite J.J. Wherever he happens to lineup. Crennel made it clear Watt will move around to exploit mismatches and keep the offense off guard.
While we didn’t see much of the new look Texans defense in the preseason in terms of all the starters out there working as one, it became readily apparent the one thing was can expect is a strong run stopping defense. In this day and age of high flying, pass happy offense that might not seem important, but really when you think about it forcing teams to keep throwing the ball changes everything. If teams learn that running on Houston isn’t a profitable gamble, they start dropping back that plays right into what Crennel wants. Once the run is nullified Crennel is free to let slip the dogs of war and start forcing the quarterback to make mistakes, and that is where J.J. Watt excels. We didn’t get to see it all, but we will on Sunday. Overall the front line is solid, literally and figuratively and should be the least worrisome part of the Texans defense this season.