Why have the Texans invested so much in their defense?
Simple question, simple answer: Because of Peyton Manning. In the AFC South, if you are a team other than the Colts and want to win the division, you must stop the Colts offense. You can't outscore it. Don't even try. New England is employing this philosophy in 2007, spending a lot of time acquiring numerous WRs while not overhauling their old linebacking corps and their pathetic secondary. It ain't gonna work.
You. Must. Stop. Peyton. Manning. And spell his name right, too.
For this reason, the Texans decided to shift their focus from building through offense to building through defense. For all the crap I've given the Texans and their often paranoid fans, I have to say the I agree with their decision to build through defense. I am also one of those crazy, zany, moonbat nutcases that thinks the Texans made the right decision passing on RB Reggie Bush and drafting DE Mario Williams in 2006.
Yes, I know. First I bash Matt Schaub and Texans fans for running David Carr out of Houston. Now, I'm saying Reggie Bush was not worth the #1 overall pick. Hey, since I've already got bounty hunters looking for me, I might as well go out guns blazin'.
I've made my opinions about Reggie Bush well known. Many Colts fans, including Stampede Blue's own sometime co-writer, MasterRWayne, strongly disagree with me re: Reggie Bush. Like I always say, disagreement and dissent are welcome and encouraged. If or when I'm wrong about something, I will admit it. I have no problem being wrong, unlike guys like ESPN's Bill Simmons, who are often so pathetically wrong and completely unapologetic about it I wonder how they stay employed. Simmons has pictures of some ABC Exec naked with a donkey, or something.
Anyway, passing on Bush and drafting Williams was indeed a smart move for the Texans. Reggie Bush is not a #1 primary back worth #1 overall pick primary back money. He is not even the primary back in New Orleans now. Deuce McAllister is. Bush might give you a highlight play, but the guy who carries the running game in New Orleans is McAllister. Only someone like LaDanian Thomlinson or Larry Johnson is worth the #1 overall pick. They carry their teams' running games. If you are going to rebuild your team, doing so with a part-time RB that is splitting carries is not the best idea. Also, Reggie Bush lied to Houston management about his involvement with some sketchy dealings while he was at USC, but that's another story.
Despite what people at Madden08 and ESPN may think, Mario Williams had a very good rookie season. He had 47 total tackles and 4.5 sacks playing on an injured foot all season. He played in all 16 games with this injury and had to deal with just about every wannabe GM in God's creation bashing him for not being Reggie Bush. Silliness. Williams showed toughness and resolve, and made some plays. The other gem from the 2006 draft was Houston's LBer DeMarco (doh!) DeMeco Ryans. Ryans was Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006, amassing 155 (125 solo!) tackles and 3.5 sacks. I don't know much about Ryans' coverage skills (only 5 passes defended), but he obviously has an impressive ability to tackle. One issue with Ryans is he's not generating many turnovers. He had only 1 INT and only one forced fumble. Still, that doesn't mean he can't improve.
The other piece to the Houston defense is CB Dunta Robinson. Some Texans fans think he's not as good as advertised. I think he's pretty solid. In the right defense, he can perform well and despite the fall-off in numbers, in games I've seen he's been solid. With the Texans spending their first pick in 2007 on another d-lineman (Amobi Okoye), Houston is clearly rebuilding its team through defense, focusing specifically on the d-line.
This is an excellent move.
When the Patriots used to beat the Colts, it was their d-line and their linebackers that drove Manning and the Colts offense nuts. Now that the LBers have gotten old in New England, the Colts have had their way with the Patriots the last two years. If you want to beat the Colts, building up through the draft with defense is a smart solution. You're not going to outscore them, making your best bet the option to stop them. If your d-line can stop the run and get pressure, leaving your linebackers to either blitz or cover, you are going to rattle any QB; even Peyton Manning. That seems to be the direction Houston is moving in, and it's a wise one. Wiser than drafting Reggie Bush, despite what ESPN thinks or says.
Please check out the other AFC South blogs, like Big Cat Country, for additions to the AFC South Roundtable. BCC talks about the Tennessee Titans in their Roundtable entry.