Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Sep 2011

ESPN: How Improved is the Texans' Defense?

A look at how Johnathan Joseph is impacting the Texans defense, what the 40 points scored by New Orleans means going forward, and where the real problem lies.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 29 Sep 2011

1 comment, Last at 30 Sep 2011, 6:15am by Mr Shush


by Mr Shush :: Fri, 09/30/2011 - 6:15am

Well, I can't read the article, but my two cents would be:

Significantly improved, but still not actually that good. Strong pass-rush, mixed coverage, bad run defense (especially up the gut and against the draw).

Kareem Jackson still can't really cover anyone. Troy Nolan still gets on the field worryingly often. Allen is better than Jackson and should be starting, but he's still not actually much good. Joseph is outstanding, and Quin and Manning are a solid safety pairing (though Manning is prone to giving up unnecessary defenseless receiver penalties). The four (!) players behind Allen at corner all pretty much suck, but Sherrick McManis should probably be playing dime-back instead of Brice McCain.

Earl Mitchell is kind of substandard at nose tackle, but orders of magnitude better than Shaun Cody, who flat out sucks.

None of the linebackers are great in coverage, and Ryans isn't really back up to speed following injury. The route that will almost always work against the Texans is a short in, slant or drag by whoever is lined up opposite Jackson, because he will be covered by Jackson, a linebacker or some combination of the two, and that is a favourable situation for almost any starting NFL receiver.

All in all, the coverage and pass rush have both improved, and the Texans defense will crush some weaker offenses in a way it couldn't in the past. However, top quarterbacks with quick releases will kill them, because there are still holes in the coverage. They are also essentially relying on explosive offense to take the run out of the opponent's gameplan, because they damn sure can't stop it themselves. Although the system is clearly nothing like the classic Colts defense, the effects are somewhat similar.