Ed Thompson: What's your take on the Texans switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3 ... and what was their motivation for making the switch?
J.P. Crawford: Moving from 3-4 to a 4-3 was probably the best defensive change the Texans could have made in the offseason. I believe part of the Texans' failure defensively in past seasons was due to several defensive linemen having to learn to play the outside linebacker position. Take Antwaan Peek for example. Peek played DE at Cincinnati, but was moved to OLB when he joined the Texans. In 2005, Peek had 6 sacks as an OLB. During preseason this year he had already recorded 2 sacks from the defensive line.
ET: How big of a blow was it to lose Domanick Davis for the year after Houston passed on Reggie Bush?
JP: I'll admit it, I was disappointed at first when I learned that the Texans were going to pass on Bush in favor of Williams. But I soon realized that if the Texans ever want to beat the offensive powerhouse that is known as the Indianapolis Colts, they have to be a defensive minded team. It was a shame to lose Davis after all of this, but I think many fans knew it was coming with his lack of practice before the start of the season. Sixth-round draft pick Wali Lundy (pictured, right) has really stepped up and taken over to help the Texans running game. He had a good preseason and will hopefully fall into a rhythm early on in the season.
ET: Many Colts fans really liked DeMeco Ryans heading into the NFL Draft. What's he adding to the Texans defense that was lacking at his position before?
JP: DeMeco Ryans was an amazing pick for the Texans. He has all the intangibles that you look for in a leader on the field, not to mention his physical nature. He may not be the biggest linebacker on the field, or maybe even the quickest, but he is on top of the ball every play and is a great tackler. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Ryans being awarded the Defensive Rookie of the Year over Mario Williams, or any other defensive rookie. With the Texans moving to a 4-3 defense, the team was losing several linebackers who were moving back to the defensive line. Ryans stepped in at a perfect time to fill the gaps and become a leader for the defense.
ET: The Texans offensive line looked good on the opening drive against the Eagles but appeared to struggle after that once the Eagles starting blitzing and mixing up their pass rush looks...this has been a constant problem for them. What's being done to address it?
JP: The offensive line has always been the weakest spot for the Texans. Picking up OTs Charles Spencer and Eric Winston in the draft was a plus, as was signing C Mike Flanagan from the Packers. But, like the defense, several players were playing out of position in past seasons but are back to familiar grounds now. Assistant Head Coach Mike Sherman is working closely with Offensive Line Coach John Benton to bring the Texans offensive line to where they need to be to play competitively in the NFL.
ET: David Carr was sacked five times. Here's the age-old question for Houston, was it the line protection or was Carr holding the ball too long?
JP: On some of those sacks, it was neither. I saw at least one block that was missed by second year RB Vernand Morency (who was traded to the Packers this week) that allowed a sack on Carr. I think the responsibility lies more with the offensive line. When you've been sacked as many times as Carr has, you don't really have that tendency to hold on the ball that long. The Texans have taken steps to improve the offensive line, but they certainly aren't done yet. Hopefully by mid-season the Texans offensive line will have formed that cohesion that has seemed to elude them every season.
Behind Enemy Lines With J.P. Crawford, Part 1
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