HOUSTON - AUGUST 28: Quarterback Stephen McGee #7 of the Dallas Cowboys looks for a receiver as he receives pressure from defensive tackle Earl Mitchell #92 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on August 28 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Chris Watkins covered this story very well over the weekend at SB Nation Houston, but I wanted to put my own two cents in.
Wade Phillips, at a dinner for high-paying customers, proclaimed again that he does not need an earth-moving nose tackle to make his scheme work.
"There's all kinds of players," Phillips said. "I think I've had six Pro Bowl nose guards since I've coached in the league - all different sizes. Ted Washington at Buffalo was 400 pounds, I know. And Greg Kragen (in Denver), he was 250-260. And even Jay Ratliff, who was in the Pro Bowl with us at the Cowboys, is about 280. He's not as big as the guys we have here, and everybody's saying, ‘Wow, these guys can't play it.' It's all the techniques involved and how you play the position.
Now, I'll admit that I would much rather have the planetoid nose tackle. I think that's a very consistent position that this blog, as a whole, has adopted and been crushed that the organization hasn't made any attempt to adhere to.
But the whole tone of this post is that the Texans can have either a penetrating player or a huge nose tackle and succeed. I think that misses the actual beef. While I'd like a huge nose tackle, I would've been absolutely fine if the Texans drafted Nick Fairley or Stephen Paea and said, "Nose tackle is fixed." In other words, this isn't about whether Phillips can get the best out of the players he has or whether they are fits for the system. This is about actually addressing a position that has been a problem for a long time.
I know I'm beating the same drum that we've been on for a solid year now, but if the Texans don't actually go out of their way to acquire a nose tackle (or safety) with a high draft pick or a big money deal, then why are they so surprised that their fans perceive the areas as weak points? You can paint up Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell with all the PR and "Phillips can coach these guys up"'s you want, but putting one of the most important positions in the 3-4 in the hands of a sophomore without much experience and a decent journeyman, neither of whom have played the 3-4 nose in their careers, is a risk. Ergo, it is being perceived as risky. Thus, that is why "people" are saying, "These guys can't play it," Wade.
Hopefully they (and you) prove us wrong, but I offer no apologies for being skeptical that nose tackle will not be a problem area for the Texans this season.