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Yeah, But What If…

Everyone seems to be building an ark in preparation for the torrential downpour of a terrible defense.  I won’t tell you to stop gathering the animals just yet, but I am prepared to slightly play the role of a Nike-wearing, Kool-Aid swilling wacko.  I really do think our defense could be better, but not only because of the defense.

For those of you that haven’t taken a gander, BFD just wrote a great state of the union article about the defense, and last week Riott laid out the blueprint for our new defensive scheme, the 4-3 Under.  Both were honest about the way they feel--that the defense is still in a state of disarray.  I can’t disagree with that completely, but I am optimistic; it’s a flaw. 

My optimism isn’t just for the defense; in fact, out of all the three units, the defense receives the least amount of it.  Any defensive squad that is still prominently features the likes of Travis Johnson can’t garner too much confidence.  The majority of my hope relies on the offense, like most Texans fans. 

They’re not stand-alone units though.  The terrible play on the defense last year is mostly the responsibility of those players, but it can be attributed to the offense as well.  Yes, the offense was 3rd in the league last year, but only in yardage.  They were 17th in scoring, 2nd in interceptions thrown with 20, and 8th in fumbles lost with 12. 

The turnovers and the lack of scoring adds up and it effects the rest of the team.  The offense is high powered enough to play from behind, but that’s a recipe for disaster for a struggling defense.  The opposing offense can play ball control and run more with less risk.  This sets up playaction, which leads to deeper passes for big gains because the secondary has committed to helping with the run. 

Furthermore, turnovers lead to shorter fields.  It’s a lot easier to play aggressively on the opponent’s 20 yard line when the defense can still overcome a big gain rather than a big gain that results in a trip to red zone.  Shorter fields lead to more conservative play, exactly what Frank Bush and the new Texans defense is trying to counteract.

Riott and BFD are in agreement that 17th overall is the best possible result for the defense and a place in the lower 20s is more realistic.  I’m not trying to argue with that per se, but I do believe that if the defense and the offense can improve, the two sides will help each other.  It is right for us to focus on the defense because it is the true Achilles' heel right now, but it will take more than just improvement on that side of the ball to get the Texans into the playoffs.