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Wade Phillips insists Mario Williams will fit a 3-4 defense

Wade Phillips AP

35 years after he coached the Oilers linebackers, Wade Phillips is back in Houston.

“I’ve always been a Texan,” Phillips said at his introductory press conference as Texans defensive coordinator.   “Now I’m a real Texan. Being a part of this organization is a dream come true for me.”

The 2010 Texans defense was a nightmare and can only improve.  The challenge for Phillips will be to transition to a 3-4 defense with players that were drafted to play in a 4-3.  Phillips says Mario Williams will be an excellent fit because Phillips’ 3-4 doesn’t require a defensive end to handle two gaps.

“We’re not talking about a three-technique. We’re talking about a guy that we’re gonna let rush the passer, penetrate,” Phillips said.  “We’ll probably move him and that’s what we did with Bruce Smith. You can look at a 3-4, where a guy plays inside all the time and you look at one where they play outside and go all the time. He’s going to be one of them.”

This is Phillips’ sixth defensive coordinator position.  He has consistently improved the teams he’s joined by building his defense around his players rather than being inflexible.  He sees Texans linemen Earl Mitchell and Shaun Cody as potential nose tackles.

The biggest question mark is where linebacker Brian Cushing will fit.  Phillips and coach Gary Kubiak admitted they weren’t sure if Cushing would be on the outside or inside.

Phillips, as always, didn’t sound too worried.

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22 Responses to “Wade Phillips insists Mario Williams will fit a 3-4 defense”
  1. mike83ri says: Jan 11, 2011 2:55 PM

    Mario Williams as a permanent pass rushing LB is more like a variation of a 4-3. And if he’s dropping back into coverage…. that will be bad.

  2. mooney24 says: Jan 11, 2011 2:58 PM

    While I’m sure it’s a concern as to whether a 3-4 set will diminish the effect of one of the better defensive ends in the league…

    Should they really be worrying about Mario Williams? I have to figure that with his skill set that he’ll ‘find a way’.

    Shouldn’t they worry about the rest of the roster? This team was a sorry excuse of a 4-3. Now they’re going to shift the defense against the roster’s strength? I thought this move was designed as a fix-on-the-go since Kubiak has very little time to turn this thing around, they’re a win now team, and so on…

    Yowza. Well, maybe they’ll go 8-8 next year and all will be well with the world.

  3. Stupid Raiders Fan says: Jan 11, 2011 3:00 PM

    The biggest weakness of that team is their D and they do have some talent out there. I think Wade is a great fit and they make the playoffs next season

  4. brasho says: Jan 11, 2011 3:12 PM

    Earl Mitchell at NT? The guy ran a 4.7 40 at the combine and is undersized, I know Ratliff was similiar for the Cowboys, but I would think you’d want to get this guy out in space rather inside.

  5. broncobourque says: Jan 11, 2011 3:28 PM

    @Mike83ri

    Phillips didn’t say he would be a rush linebacker, he said his version of the 3-4 doesn’t use a 3 technique where the DE is asked to tie up 2 blockers. Williams will play DE and be asked to bassically do the same things as a 4-3 DE, get penetration, often using an outside rush.

    Given the success Phillips has had in the past as a D-coordinator, I have no doubt he will be able to drastically improve that defense. Finding a NT might be a tougher job but the Texans might be able to place a call to Denver and deal with a front office they are all familiar with and acquire an aging NT that played for Phillips in San Diego.

  6. CKL says: Jan 11, 2011 3:43 PM

    With the style of 3-4 Wade favors he’s probably right about Williams. He’s a good DC, just a bad HC.

  7. tom-a-hawk says: Jan 11, 2011 3:46 PM

    the switch from a pretty decent (top 10) 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense did wonders for the redskins. expect at least some roadbumps before things get better.

  8. danimalk82 says: Jan 11, 2011 3:51 PM

    Cushing will be a perfect fit for the OLB opposite Mario as soon as he loses his steroid weight.

  9. toonsterwu says: Jan 11, 2011 4:01 PM

    I’m still not sold on the fit, but it’s worth it to remember that there are really two types of thirty fronts – the 2-gap 5-technique 30 front, or the more aggressive, shoot the gap type 30 front. Essentially, Wade, who has a history with … well, both actually, is suggesting that that is what he will do with the Texans. If that’s the case, I could see Mario somewhat working, and Antonio Smith already has some experience in a 30 front and could fill another DE spot. I’m not real sold that Shaun Cody or Earl Mitchell are NT’s, though.

    I also think that Cushing is better off inside in a 3-4, next to Demeco, but then they will need a weakside rush backer and another OLB. Add in the secondary concerns already on the roster, and Wade has his work cut out for him.

  10. toonsterwu says: Jan 11, 2011 4:03 PM

    I did forget about Connor Barwin, who’s athleticism might be better used as a rush backer, so maybe that’s one possibility.

  11. cup0pizza says: Jan 11, 2011 4:14 PM

    Get ready for your team to get virtually no turnovers, Texans fans. Wade sucks.

  12. Jay says: Jan 11, 2011 5:06 PM

    “Wade Phillips insists Mario Williams will fit a 3-4 defense.”

    Great title that goes with the picture you chose. It almost looks like Phillips is saying, “We’d only have to enlarge the defense this much for him to fit.”

  13. mariner85 says: Jan 11, 2011 5:11 PM

    How does this guy keep getting work?

  14. txtuff says: Jan 11, 2011 5:51 PM

    First of all the Texans fans wanted Gary Kube gone, didn’t happen. So instead we get a new DC. This is the first real DC we have had with Gary has a head coach and the good news is that he is pretty much turning over the defense to Wade and staying out of it. Wade is not a good head coach, that has been proven, but he has also proven that he is a good DC. I for one would like to see Mario Williams traded away to a 4-3 D and see what we can get for him. Cush will prob be an inside LB with Connor Barwin moving to a rushing outside LB, he could be very exciting to watch!

    No matter what the D will be better then last year, hell they got better just by Frank Bush being fired!! And if the Texans had only a middle of the pack D they can make the playoffs. I hope!

  15. slickster35 says: Jan 11, 2011 5:56 PM

    The front 7 is the least of his worries with this team.

    Theres not a DB on the roster worth having.

  16. ahgeez says: Jan 11, 2011 6:04 PM

    Wade as Houston’s DC.. I’m sorry Texan fans. I really am.

  17. commandercornpone says: Jan 11, 2011 8:53 PM

    well they need a NT, and can probly snag one. better get 2.

    current DTs can slide to 3-4 DE.

    i wouldnt trade mario unless i could get 2 starters for him. hell they would find a way to get him on the field. wade already said they would move him around.

    wade was hamstrung in dallas because of HC duties and werkin for botox-boy.

  18. texmore says: Jan 11, 2011 10:08 PM

    Wade’s track record speaks for itself. Every team he goes to, he fixes the defense and the team goes to the playoffs in the first year he’s there. Those are the simple facts.

    Mario will be a speed pass rusher, giving Peyton fits and very little time to throw the ball. Antonio will meet him at the Quarterback on the other end. Barwin and Cushing will take turns rushing the backfield while playing both OLB positions. Darryl Sharpton and Demeco will run sideline to sideline making tackles all day at the ILB positions. Jason Allen and GQ will start at either Cornerback respectively. Pollard will be able to help out with the run and move up as an extra LB or drop back in coverage if needed while Eugene Wilson will hold down the back end at Safety.

    As far as nose tackle, well that’s the draft is for. Maybe that real good NT from North Carolina that didnt play because he got into trouble. He’s real stout and has a big chip on his shoulder or the big dominant NT down in Alabama #57 Marcell Dareus, he’s a beast to. If they come out, either of them would do, or maybe even both of them.

    And all of these underachievers like Xavier Adibi, Amobi Okoye, Zac Diles, Tim Bulman, Dominique Barber, Antuan Molden, Jesse Nading, Andre Davis, David Anderson, and guys like Karl Paymah, who, exactly. Your taking up roster space. Put up in camp or move on to a new team, because this years draft should be loaded with a gang of hungry rookies on the defensive side of the ball. I’m talking about NT’s, LB’s, CB’s, DE’s you name it. And that’s how it should be. It took us awhile, but Houston, I think we have finally arrived to playoff football again in the city of Houston. If the Texans just improve to a top 15-20 ranked defense, we are going to the playoffs next year.

    Go Texans!!!

  19. seaniemck7 says: Jan 12, 2011 12:08 AM

    Hate Wade as a HC, but he is a damn fine DC.

    @texmore
    Thanks for the breakdown.

    FF D sleeper next year? i dare say yes.

  20. godofwine330 says: Jan 12, 2011 8:48 AM

    I don’t like it one bit. I don’t care how many NFL teams are switching to this system, if your BEST PLAYER, and a relatively young guy, is a defensive end and comfortable in a 4-3, why would you mess with that? Look forward to his sack numbers being down and him looking to leave after this year.

  21. joetoronto says: Jan 12, 2011 11:57 AM

    godofwine330:

    He’ll most probably end up with MORE sacks in this system.

    You’re probably thinking of a traditional 3-4, where the LB’s make all the plays and the Nose and Ends take up space.

    That’s more common nowadays, the Steelers have used that type of 3-4 for many years.

    The Raiders of the early to mid 80′s used the type of 3-4 Phillips is going to install. The Nose and both Ends had double digit sacks for years.

  22. skins359 says: May 7, 2011 2:22 AM

    He might be 295 pounds but he also ran a 4.73 at that weight. All he needs to do is drop another 10 or 15 pounds and his natural athletic ability will do the rest. I mean seriously a guy at 280-285 moving just as well as the guys weighing in at 255-260 is unreal but Mario is one of the few players that can pull it off.

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