Can Wade Phillips work miracles? With the Dallas Cowboys he most certainly did not, but Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak thinks Phillips is going to have better luck with Texas' not-so-prominent team.
The Houston Texans, still battling the frustrations of 2010's disappointing 6-10 campaign, brought in Phillips this season to control the defensive squad. After posting the 29th worst defense in the NFL last season in terms of points per game allowed, the only team in the AFC South to fail to make the playoffs over the last four seasons is searching for a new look.
Wade Phillips and his transition to a 3-4 defense is the change the Texans need, moving now veteran defensive stud Mario Williams to Weak Side Linebacker and drafting highly touted J.J. Watt to take over at defensive end.
If Mario Williams can alter his impressive game to become a star blitzing linebacker, the Texans might have the best corps of linebackers in the NFL, with DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin and the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing. However, Cushing is still recovering from knee surgery and is still fighting the negativity of his positive test for raised levels of aspects of Human Growth Hormones.
With Cushing not participating in training camp, it is concerning head coach Gary Kubiak, according to the Houston Chronicle and the Sporting News.
The Texans have a young crop of talented rookies to fill in for injured players, and will get some serious action over the next couple weeks of the preseason. Look for rookie Brooks Reed out of Arizona to get a serious look at Cushing's normal spot, along with other rookie linebackers Steven Friday (Virginia Tech) and Cheta Ozougwu.
In terms of the secondary, the Texans need to improve dramatically and quickly. The Texans were burned in the pass game worse than a hot Houston August. The Texans allowed 267.5 yards passing per game and 33 touchdown passes last season. In response, they brought in Vance Joseph from San Francisco to be the secondary coach.
In the 2011 Draft, the Texans nabbed cornerbacks Brandon Harris out of Miami and Roc Carmichael also from Virginia Tech. Harris, the Texans' second-round, pick was a three-year award winner at Miami and was a 2009 first-team and 2010 second-team All-ACC pick. Carmichael was a fourth round selection and a favorite of head coach and defensive whiz Frank Beamer.
Also, the Texans added free agents Johnathan Joseph, previously with Cincinnati, and Danieal Manning, who was a rock in the Chicago secondary. With strong safety Glover Quin coming into his third season, it is time to put up or shut up after very mediocre play last season.
That is the story, though for the entire squad, it is a defining moment for a franchise that has had bright moments but never a golden season capped off with a trip to the playoffs. After their expansion season in 2002, Texan fans have proudly stood by and supported all of the building and rebuilding years.
Houston as a city deserves to have a winner, and it is time for this defensive unit led by a veteran genius to step up and give the talented offense some support in winning football games in 2011.