The weakness of the Wade Phillips 3-4 Defense


Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips watches from the sideline against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter of the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings Texans Fans!

Last season saw three games that exposed the Texans defense, and all three games had one thing in common: quarterback’s that don’t hold the ball long.

Wade Phillips has called his scheme more of a 5-2 modified front rather than a traditional 3-4. This allows more fast rushes and disruption of the backfield then one normally sees in a 3-4 front. All of this is predicated on the safeties and corners delaying the pass long enough for J.J. Watt and crew to get to the quarterback.

Unfortunately, when facing a player like the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers or the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady as we saw last season, all it takes is some imaginative quick routes and fast passes and the whole thing falls apart.

Last year’s failures can partially be attributed to injuries such as to Brian Cushing and Johnathan Joseph. Without fast linebacker’s to hold the tight ends over the middle and good angles on passes in man coverage to the outside nothing really works.

Once the wheels come off the bus, it’s very hard to get them back on again.

When the Packers stepped onto the field last October, Houston was on a roll, but had just lost Cushing in the previous game against the New York Jets. Rodgers gave the Texans a serious beat down to the tune of 338 yards passing and six touchdowns.

The Texans recovered from this and went on to win six straight games before heading north for another painful loss.

The loss came at the hands of Brady, who like Rodgers, had a field day with four touchdowns and nearly 300 yards through the air. This loss started a 1-3 slide finishing out the season. After getting by the Cincinnati Bengals, once again Houston, was manhandled by the Patriots, their season over and big question marks to answer for going into the ’13 season.

The Texans must have better short-range pass protection, and that means doing things differently. Rodgers and Brady both knew the Texans were going gunning for them, and neither cared. They didn’t need to toss long bombs down the field. They disrupted the rush by tagging the defense with quick passes, and suddenly the defense is off-balanced.

New England head coach Bill Belichick is an incredible game planner, and you can bet when the Texans came to town he watched the Green Bay game, seeing exactly how to beat them.

Don’t give the front line time to get to Brady. The only way to beat that is to put more people into coverage, which risks being torched down the field.

However, as we saw with the win against the Denver Broncos, the defense held up pretty well giving the team a chance to win. With the return of Cushing and the addition of Ed Reed to the team, the Texans will have a much better chance at evening the odds and forcing the likes of New England off that short fast passing game.

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