Texans G.M. Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak put together one of the most disappointing defenses of the last decade. Wade Phillips has arrived to clean up the mess.
Phillips played a huge role in picking six defenders in April’s draft, and his work isn’t done yet. The Texans are up next in our team checklist series.
1. Find a starting cornerback.
Phillips likes his front seven, but he doesn’t know what he has in the secondary. That’s Wade’s nice way of saying he knows his secondary stinks. Nothing should be guaranteed for last year’s first-round pick Kareem Jackson, while it may be too early to count on rookies Brandon Harris or Rashad Carmichael.
Could all of the young kids step up? It’s possible, but the Texans should consider that a good problem after signing a starter. They could be in the mix for Nnamdi Asomugha. Some other possibilities: Johnathan Joseph, Ike Taylor, Carlos Rogers, and Antonio Cromartie.
2. Add a potential starter at safety too.
The team is moving Glover Quin to a new position (free safety) and have Troy Nolan at strong safety. They need more. This won’t be an easy position to fill, as seemingly every team is looking for safety depth this offseason.
3. Build defensive line depth.
We actually believe Phillips when he says he likes Earl Mitchell and Shaun Cody in the middle. The defensive end group of J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, and Amobi Okoye could be worse. There just is absolutely no depth behind these guys.
Phillips and Rick Smith will have to work their magic here because they will be picking up a lot of reserves that will make the team.
4. Teach the 3-4 defense for dummies.
The Texans organization is putting a whole lot of faith in Phillips. Not only is he helping to pick players and transform roles, he has to teach an entirely new scheme in one training camp. If it works, it could be Phillips’ finest hour as a coordinator.
5. Settle the third receiver position.
Jacoby Jones is worth bringing back if the price is right. Otherwise the Texans only have Kevin Walter, David Anderson, and a whole lot of blah behind Andre Johnson. Ideally, the team would get someone with speed to put on the outside.
6. See if anyone wants Amobi Okoye or Steve Slaton.
Once looked at as possible cornerstones, Okoye and Slaton should be available for pennies on the dollar. Okoye could stick as a reserve. We suspect Slaton will just get released if everyone including last year’s second round pick Ben Tate stay healthy in camp.
7. Bring back Vonta Leach.
Houston’s underrated offensive line gets a huge assist, but Leach was a key to Arian Foster’s breakout year. He’ll cost a lot for a fullback, but not that much for a true difference maker.
8. Thank Mr. McNair once again.
Not many owners would have given Kubiak and Rick Smith another chance. We think it was the right move because of the lockout and the stability of Kubiak’s offense. Hiring Phillips was an excellent gambit. The deposed Cowboys coach could oddly save them all from perpetual mediocrity.