Texans plan to use Mario Williams at outside linebacker

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The biggest addition to the Texans defense this offseason wasn’t first-round pick J.J. Watt, but defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

The former Cowboys coach is changing just about everything about the Texans old approach in their transition to a 3-4 defense.  That includes creating the biggest outside linebacker in NFL history.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle wrote about Williams’ planned conversion in a chat Wednesday.  (A full story is coming Friday.)  At 6’6 and 290 pounds, Williams will look a little crazy standing up.  But McClain says he plans to drop some weight and the Texans won’t count on him to cover as the weak side outside linebacker.

“He’ll be up in running situations and down in passing situations. Sometimes they might change him around,” McClain writes.

Phillips plans to use Williams like he did DeMarcus Ware and “loves” Williams at OLB.  It appears the team selected J.J. Watt in part to free up Williams from playing defensive end.

The Texans certainly have an intriguing linebacker corps now: Williams, Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans, Brooks Reed, and Connor Barwin.

Phillips has forgotten more about defense than we’ll ever know, so we’ll wait to see this experiment with Williams in action before making any judgement.   If nothing else, it should be fun to watch.

46 responses to “Texans plan to use Mario Williams at outside linebacker

  1. Worst mistake they could possibly make. Aaron Kampman ring a bell? They’re taking the best 4-3 DE in the league and are going to stand him up over a TE and make him cover RB, TE and slot receivers in space??? That’s nuts.

  2. 5 years ago, teams were looking for the next JPeppers or DFreeney, now they’re looking for the next Clay Matthews. I’m not sure if this is a good move? I’d rather see the Texans move him over the nose on 3rd down every once in a while to get interior push and someone at 3-4 LB fast off the edge.

  3. Worst move ever, this will set the Texans back another 4 years from making the playoffs

  4. its like what the Bengals did with Micheal Johnson, 6’7 266 pound DE who played this past season as a OLB…still a bad bad move

  5. I was going to say the exact same thing as @itwasagodrun, but then I thought about the Texans’ defense for a moment.

    In the teams’ entire existence, they’ve only been in the top half of the league in points allowed or yards allowed once, and have averaged finishing about 23rd in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed season in and season out.

    It’s a bad move for Mario Williams (see Aaron Kampman as mentioned, also look at Andre Carter who was on 2 consecutive teams that forced him to stand up in SF and WAS), but with how bad the Texans continue to be despite adding Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Dunta Robinson, Brian Cushing and Connor Baldwin in the first 2 rounds of the past 5 years, this defense just hasn’t gotten better.

  6. Let’s make Andre Johnson play running back too- how do these idiot coaches keep getting new jobs?!

  7. Two of the things that Phillips has forgotten about defense are what works and what doesn’t.

  8. itwasagoodrun says: May 5, 2011 11:58 AM

    “…They’re taking the best 4-3 DE in the league and are going to stand him up over a TE and make him cover RB, TE and slot receivers in space??? That’s nuts.”

    Did you not read the article?
    “He’ll be up in running situations and down in passing situations. Sometimes they might change him around,” McClain writes.

    He’ll be asked to rush…and that’s about it.

  9. I will say that the Chiefs did the same thing with Tamba Hali before last season and he responded with the best year of his career. I can’t help but think that maybe Phillips saw what Romeo did with Tamba in K.C. and saw the success.

  10. So he’s going to rush the passer on every down and won’t count on him to cover. How is this different from playing defensive end? Because on run downs he won’t have his hand on the ground? This is a 3-4 that’s really a 4-3. Big deal.

  11. stlpimp says:
    May 5, 2011 12:08 PM
    Let’s make Andre Johnson play running back too- how do these idiot coaches keep getting new jobs?!

    How is Wade an idiot coach? Maybe you should just worry about STL teams.

  12. Wade doesn’t run the traditional 3-4. It’s more of a hybrid, and a 4-3 at times.

    Also, Mario will NOT be covering TE’s and Backs. He has 1 goal, rush the passer!

    Too many times people get caught up in “Systems” etc. Give me the 11 best guys on the team and start them. Good players adapt.

    Mario, Cushing, Demeco, Barwin/Reed
    Antonio, Mitchell and JJ WATT

    Dirty! Watch out Peyton Sept 11!

  13. other ideas from wade phillips***:
    -move adrian peterson to tight end: he’s fast, he can block, he can break tackles, and he’s got the hands.
    -move ray lewis to safety: he’s ferocious, he can read defenses, he can cover, and he can blitz when asked to.
    -move asante samuel to wide receiver: he’s quick, he’s smart, he’s got great hands and has proven himself a playmaker.
    -move hines ward to runningback: he’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s the best blocking wideout in the nfl.
    -move peyton manning to safety: he’s smart, he’s strong, he’s got great reach, and he’s proven he’s a leader.

    ***in theory

  14. lets get one thing correct right away. regardless of how good Mario Williams is, he is no demarcus ware. he’s not athletic enough to get off blocks and chase rb’s sidleine to sideline.

  15. As a Colts fan, I don’t like this at all. Why doesn’t Wade Phillips mind his own business and leave the Texans D alone. It has been fine just the way it is.

  16. how isnt wade an idiot coach??

    get real.. and you dont stand up a beast like Mario.. you let him sit right in front of a tackle and let him beast hime for 4 quarters..

    this guy dominates the entire side of an offense of line. beaster

  17. I dunno…might turn out fine depending on Mario’s football IQ.
    I remember thinking”OH SH**” when Saban got hired in Mia because I thought the first thing he will do is make JT a 3-4 OLB sometimes as if JT hadn’t already killed the Pats on a regular basis. It worked great unfortunately because JT is not only athletic but intelligent. Williams is a little thicker than JT but it could work. One thing I will say for Wade…he sux as a HC but he’s a good DC.

  18. They might not plan to make him cover but you can damn sure other teams will scheme to make him do just that.

  19. Remember lasy year when Peppers was crying to play in a 3-4 defense? Well Chicago quited him with a boatload of money. The league is switching to the 3-4 defense to counter the passing attacks. Mario getting to cover more ground, and with his athleticism at 6-7 in passing lanes, watch out!

  20. I’m impressed with all the folks posting here that know so much more than Wade Phillips does about defense. That’s why you all do … well, whatever it is you do for a living, right?

  21. I dunno about being the biggest linebacker in NFL history.

    Levon Kirkland was pushing 300 pounds and would still smother the tight end down field. Guy was a wrecking machine.

  22. Super Mario is a pretty fit and athletic 290 so if he can drop 10-15 lbs I’m sure he’ll do fine. He won’t be covering anybody. But can he drop that weight and still maintain his strength? It will be difficult.

  23. “we’re gonna have to sick that animal mario on them”…haha…quick change the movie bill murray. funny stuff.

  24. This may not be the popular opinion in Houston, but people who are playing the “he won’t be asked to cover” card really have no idea what they’re talking about, or are trying to rationalize their fears as best they can. Packer fans were fed the same line of BS about Kampman when Capers was hired. “He runs a hybrid, not a true 3-4” was commonplace at the time, but I never remember seeing Kampman with his hand on the ground unless it was short yardage. They did their best to minimize his exposure in coverage, but he was still exploited because asking a natural DE to play in that king of space is asking for trouble. The whole point of pass overage in a 3-4 is that you don’t know where the pressure is coming from. Well, it’s pretty obvious who will be rushing in this scenario.

    What I’d really be worried about if I were a Texans fan is if you are going to roll with Williams and Brooks Reed as your OLB’s, you better hope you get to the QB because your pass defense will be even more horrendous. Neither of those guys are going to be able to cover.

    3=4 defenses are installed first and foremost to stop the run and make your opponent one-dimensional, but the Texans were constantly shredded through the air. I’m not sure how this makes their pass defense better.

  25. Watch cowboys tape. Ware is almost never asked to drop back ….. in fact he’s probably asked to drop about as much as any DE in 4-3 does in the league.

    I am not sure how this will work out for Williams, but with the rest of the line backers this is a great move. As bad a head coach Phillips is he is a GREAT DC. Dallas has had a great defense the whole time he was there.

    The guy williams reminds me most of is Ware. And i saw how Wade used him and I just think this will work out well. From the OLB spot williams is going to be almost impossible to stop coming around the edge with his speed and power and the time to get a motion going before contact …. thats scary. If i played against them though i would just put my TE over williams at all times witch may make the guy who gets the other side a good sack year as far as numbers go especially if its Reed… that guy is the next Mathews kinda guy (though not as physically gifted as Mathews, but then again no one is)

    I am not a Texans fan but I for one will be routing for them this and every year till they make the playoffs. Those fans are great and they deserve a winner already (plus i have a bit of a man crush on Johnson, whata beast)

  26. They are going to destroy this man’s career. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of teams in the draft taking what I thought were the wrong guys…4-3 teams taking 3-4 players (think Cam Jordan going to the Saints) and 3-4 teams taking 4-3 ends (think the Redskins taking Ryan Kerrigan or Von Miller going to the Broncos).

  27. Maybe they should play one of the leagues best DEs at the DE position.

    Just a thought.

  28. wow ok where do I start this isn’t news to anyone who follows the Texans second im sorry but wern’t the Texan’s defense historically bad just checking and im sorry, but are we getting everything out of mario williams? I think not and if you read the article they plan to stand him up on running downs and put his hand down on passing downs and may change it up. So before you comment read the damn article and remember the defense sucked last season so any change can’t be worse then it was last season.

  29. I like it. Imagine a LT trying to stop Williams after he’s had a head start. Trouble for LTs.

  30. Maybe they should just stay in the 4-3 and let one of the league’s best DE’s play DE. Nah that wouldn’t make sense. I have no Idea why these teams keep switching back and forth between 3-4 and 4-3 defenses. Go with what fits your personel or if your whole defense sucks (Houston has good Linebackers and Mario Williams just a bad Secondary) they have an overhaul. Am I wrong or was it just that Houston’s secondary sucked last year? I don’t remember the front 7 being that bad.

  31. Their best bet is to trade him while he still has good value, cause once he struggles in the 3-4, which as sure as I’m sitting here he will do, his value will diminish.

  32. Phillips does not deserve any credit for being innovative. Hardly an original thought. Vikings did the same thing with Chris Doleman decades ago

  33. mrfahcue says:
    May 5, 2011 3:29 PM
    Phillips does not deserve any credit for being innovative. Hardly an original thought. Vikings did the same thing with Chris Doleman decades ago

    Actually, Doleman was drafted as a linebacker and then moved to DE.

  34. mario is a gifted athlete, extremely gifted, nothing that ware can do that mario cant do, tenfold. this is one of those moves where an extremely talented player like mario will succeed. then you will see other teams trying to duplicate it with lesser talents and it wont work out..

  35. @sullybleedsgreen the idea is to improve the pass rush, which will ultimately improve the secondary. the 2 go hand in hand. Houston had one of the best run defenses in the league, that was only because qbs were lighting up the secondary too much to want to run..

  36. That’s funny how y’all think Wade Phillips is an idiot and a bad coach when he is one of the best defensive cordinaters in the NFL not a great Head Coach. Wait and see if it doesn’t work they can just put him back at DE what’s the big deal?

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