This is a question I've been pondering the last couple of weeks. The 2011 Houston Texans defense is legitimately good. It'd be even better with a healthy Mario Williams and a servicable CB2, but even without those things, the Houston defense is still very solid. If the 2010 Houston Texans defense was a pile of fresh cow dung, the 2011 Houston Texans defense is a garden of blooming jasmine. It's night and day.
The question is, who or what is most responsible for that transformation? The easy answer is Wade Phillips. There's no denying the team has taken to his scheme, and it's a joy to behold. But is it possible the improvement can be attributed to something else?
I'm not here to dismiss what Wade's hiring as done for the Texans. It's gone as exceptionally well as any of us could have dreamed, and there's no doubt that Wade knows a thing or 93,971 about running a defense (as opposed to his predecessor, who very well could have somehow known a negative integer about running a defense). I wonder, though...is the success of the Texans' defense due more to Wade or to the pieces the defense has now that it didn't have last year?
1. Johnathan Joseph wasn't a Texan last year.
2. Danieal Manning wasn't a Texan last year.
3. J.J. Watt wasn't a Texan last year.
4. DeMeco Ryans missed most of last year with a career-threatening injury.
5. Connor Barwin missed nearly all of the 2010 season with a horrific injury.
6. After serving a four-game suspension to start the 2010 season, Brian Cushing never really looked like the Brian Cushing we saw in '09 at any point in 2010.
That's a whole lot of talent that wasn't around in 2010. Is that the difference in how the defense is playing this year? Or is it in fact almost entirely attributable to the genius of Wade Phillips?
Personally, I'd lean toward the answer being more Wade Phillips, primarily because he has weathered the loss of Mario Williams rather brilliantly, which lends additional credence to the notion that Wade's scheme, and not the personnel, is the source of Houston's newfound defensive strength. Yet I can't ignore the significant influx of talent the Texans have had on defense since last year. While I don't think another defensive coordinator would have seen the immediate and sizable improvement that Wade has presided over this year (especially without a full summer to install a new system), I do think a credible DC could have engineered a decent turnaround with the talent available at Reliant Park now.
What do you think? Vote in the poll and sound off in the Comments.