The Texans defense has been the focal point for the team, its fans and the writers/bloggers covering the team for a while, and this offseason that focus has only increased. Since Frank Bush was handed his walking papers and Wade Phillips was the obvious replacement, everyone has had an opinion on the hire, what the defense might look like next year, and what players will flourish or not in the new scheme.
Last week, I wrote a piece explaining my opinion that Connor Barwin has the best chance to thrive under Wade Phillips. Several of you asked in the comments about Barwin because there has been very little if no news regarding him or his injury since Week 1, when he dislocated his ankle. Connor was nice enough to answer a few quick questions and update us on his status for next season.
Jake: First off, how is the ankle? How long until it is fully recovered, and do you think the injury will have long term or permanent affects?
Connor: My ankle is doing really well. I’ve been taking time with my rehab but should be 100% by April and I’m fortunate to not have any long term affects. I had a great surgeon and rehab team behind me.
Jake: Prior to this season, you were the common pick amongst the coaching staff to have a breakout season. Why do you think the coaching staff was so enthused about you? Also, do you think missing an entire season set you back at all, or will you be able to have that impact this coming season?
Connor: I think because I had had a good summer, including OTA’s and including training camp. I just grew in my knowledge about the position and became a better football player since my rookie season. I hope I can pick up right where I left off. In fact, I know I will.
Jake: You were a big fan of non-traditional training regimens last offseason, most notably boxing. Will you have a similar offseason training program this year, or will the missed time make you adjust that at all?
Connor: I plan on doing similar training including boxing.
Jake: Has the uncertainty about the collective bargaining agreement made you change your training plans at all considering there may not be certain team events such as OTAs, minicamps or even training camp itself?
Connor: No - I’ll train just like I did last year because I felt very prepared going into training camp and that’s when you need to be ready.
Jake: Obviously it was a tough season for the Texans defense. What do you think went wrong for them and what do you think needs to change for better success next year?
Connor: Not sure what went wrong this past season but next year I know can help the d-line improve as well as the pass rush improve.
Jake: What is your reaction to the cuts made of some of the defensive staff? Are you happy that you’ll continue to play for the coaches that remained, most notably Gary Kubiak?
Connor: Yes, very happy to continue with Kubiak! I’m also excited about the new defensive staff and happy that Coach Kollar will still be there.
Jake: The Texans will be switching to a 3-4 defense next year, a system which most draft analysts thought best suited you before your selection by the Texans. Is the switch to outside linebacker in that type of defense something you had expected or prepared for before the draft?
Connor: I did think I was going to get drafted by a 3-4 team, and I am excited but really it’s not that much different from what I was playing to what I will be playing.
Jake: Wade Phillips, the new defensive coordinator for the Texans, historically employs a rush linebacker almost exactly your size with similar athletic ability such as DeMarcus Ware or Shawne Merriman. How do you think you would fit into a 3-4 position wise, and do you think this scheme fits you better than a traditional 4-3?
Connor: Yes it does fit me better, and I’m very excited about it and looking forward to what training camp will bring.
Author's Note: Thanks a lot to Connor and Shawn Smith from XAM sports for facilitating the interview.