Why a Bad Houston Texans Defense Could Get Worse
Football Outsiders currently has the Texans defense ranked 30th (compared to 12th for the offense and 4th for special teams). They ranked the Texans pass defense at 21 and the rush defense last in the league. I believe that most of the pass defense improvement in recent weeks is that teams know the Texans rush defense is garbage, and also they have faced a parade of horrible QBs (Orlowsky, Fitzpatrick, Frerotte).
Hey, but there has been some improvement right? Maybe this young defense is figuring it out? Perhaps if you live in blind optimism land, but this week, a thin defense limited in playmakers has become thinner.
The Texans leading tackler, linebacker Zac Diles broke his leg in a freak, no-contact practice accident. Standout MLB DeMeco Ryans has suffered from an ankle sprain all year, and will be further limited this week with a shoulder problem. He usually plays every down, but they will likely be rotating him in and out. Ryans won't talk about it--he always responds "I'm fine"-- and it is hard to know how much this has been affecting him.
DT Amobi Okoye may end up not playing due to a high ankle sprain, and Frank Okam may get time in the d-line rotation in his absence. More time for Okam may be a good thing. It's hard to trust this defensive staff in putting the best defenders on the field if they prefer to give time to DeMarcus Faggins at the expense of the further development of Fred Bennett, for example.
Okam is the only wide body DT on the Texans roster, something that might be handy in defending against the run. I'm not suggesting that on a routine basis Okam should play instead of Okoye, but it would be good to see Okam next to Okoye/Travis Johnson for more snaps to see what could happen for the defense if there were more size on the line.
The best thing that the Texans have going against the Ravens this weekend is that their offense tends to play better at home, which means that they have a chance to keep this unwatchable defense off the field. (Matt Schaub is out with a knee injury for two to four weeks, but I think Sage Rosenfels will be able to run the offense fine in his absence).
Ultimately, the only thing good about the defense now is that finally Houston media is talking about firing defensive coordinator Richard Smith. Yes, the Texans defense needs more playmakers, but they are also in need of defensive coordinator who has a distinct philosophy in how he runs a 4-3 and acquires suitable players.
On the offensive side of the ball, it is clear they have a direction and have acquired players to suit what they are doing. I have no clue what they are trying to do on defense other than frustrate the fanbase.