The operative word for the Texans going into 2014 is Freedom. Something they lacked under Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison. Under Kubiak the offense was “set” by the play called, with very little in the way of ability for Matt Schaub to make a change to the play. Unless he or the sideline called a timeout, if they lined up to run it left and the defense was stacked that way… well that was that. Kubiak ran a West Coast style offense and believed in the Bill Walsh concept of the scripted play book to start a game. So for many a season the Texans had a “We’re going to do this our way, go ahead, try to stop us.” And that worked great for nearly three seasons. As the team got more experience, more proficient… they came together and for 13 glorious weeks in 2012 the Texans had it down pat. Till they ran head first into the Patriots, after that the Texans played as if the other teams knew their playbook, and it showed.
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May 17, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel smiles during rookie mini-camp at Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
I’m recapping this old news, because the new system going in on both sides of the ball is something we Texans fans are not used to seeing from our boys in blue. Freedom. The quarterbacks are no longer just taking whatever they are told and running the play without consideration of the defense. This, is something that was needed last season and could have saved a lot of jobs. Bill O’Brien is taking the lessons he and Romeo Crennel learned from Bill Belichick and making them his own. More control at the line for the quarterback, more Arian Foster catching passes, more tight ends to drive the defense insane. There was a moment in the Kansas City game last season we saw Case Keenum deliver a couple of really amazing long passes. That was missing for much of the Texans offense, something tells me the deep shots will be making a come back to NRG Stadium. On the defensive side of the ball, Romeo Crennel has made it clear, like Wade Phillips his defense isn’t so much a “This is your position, now do it” as it’s a “What have I got, and how can I take advantage of your skill set”. Bringing Brooks Reed to the inside next to Brian Cushing is long over due. JJ Watt, the lead stud on the defense was moved around a bit under Phillips, but it’s looking like he should apply for frequent flyer miles in the new scheme.
Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrates a sack against the Denver Broncos during the second half at Reliant Stadium. The Broncos won 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
The uptempo practices, the freedom to excel and adapt, these are all big changes for the veterans and could mean 2014 is going to be an eyeopener for the fans. When Kubiak was fired, we all wondered who could dare pick up the implosion that was the Texans. While fans might have felt bad for Wade Phillips not getting the nod, it was the right choice to seek out a new mindset. Bill O’Brien has so far done everything right, now if he can just get Andre Johnson to embrace the changes…
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