Mike Vrabel key to defense success


May 17, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel talks with linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) during rookie mini-camp at Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texans linebacker coach Mike Vrabel is going to be a key figure in the Texans 2014 resurrection from basement dwellers to contenders again. Not just because he’s going to use his past experience to help Jadeveon Clowney go from defensive end to outside linebacker but also his work in making Brooks Reed the other guy on the inside with Brian Cushing. This entire transformation has so many parts that have to fit right to make Houston work. There isn’t a better coach to help bring that along. Vrabel has the skill, the experience and the passion to give these guys the best chance to succeed.

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While everyone has their eye on the quarterback quartet fighting to be the starter come September, the real action will be on how the Texans D get’s going. If the promise of what Romeo Crennel can make happen even comes close to reality, the Texans are poised to be one of the more feared teams this upcoming season for those unfortunate enough to play them. Imagine teams no longer able to game plan around stopping J.J. Watt with multiple blockers. For all his genius, Wade Phillips wasn’t able to get the most out of everyone. Keeping Reed as an outside linebacker didn’t make much sense either.

Sep 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) smiles as he talks with linebacker Brian Cushing (56) in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Reliant Stadium. The Houston Texans beat the Tennessee Titans 30-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There is a hole on the defense that hasn’t really been addressed. The loss of fan favorite Antonio Smith, and no drafted player, means that someone is going to have to step up. On a front 7 that includes Watt, Nix, Mercilus, Clowney, Reed and Cushing… you don’t want to be the weak link. Teams will game plan to run right over you.

Right now there are a few candidates on the roster to take that spot. The two most likely candidates are Jared Crick and Tim Jamison. Sure the Texans picked up a bevy of rookies, but let’s be honest unless someone surprises us, most of those guys are going to spend the year as backups and special teams. Crick is, in my opinion the most likely player to step in. Last year he failed to get a sack, but he also didn’t stand out as a weak player. Jamison has more NFL time under his belt, but didn’t start any games. Who wants it more, and understands the defense is going to have a chance to be part of something special.

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