When defensive coordinator Wade Phillips joined the team, you could hear a collective sigh of relief from Texans fans everywhere.
Finally, the Texans had a bona fide, top-notch, defensive-minded coach who could make something of the team's defense. This is a man who could take all of the puzzle pieces he was given and create a Da Vinci. However, it remains to be seen if the Texans have the right puzzle pieces for the job.
Mario Williams is, by all accounts, the biggest question mark for the defense.
Wade is trying to turn a 6-foot-6, 290-pound defensive end into a quarterback-destroying, nightmare-inducing outside linebacker. Many people point to DeMarcus Ware as an example of what Williams could become; but Williams has yet to show that he has the necessary skills to be successful at the position.
During the preseason he has been disruptive, but did not record a single sack.
Perhaps the next biggest concern of the Texans’ defense has to do with stopping the run game.
Both the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars have big-time running backs who are capable of gashing defenses for big yardage.
With Wade’s hybrid 3-4, the weakside linebacker—Williams—is rushing the QB on almost every down. This means that you are left with three linebackers, assuming the strongside linebacker is not rushing either.
If both outside linebackers are rushing then you are left with inside linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing to stop the run.
Any running back worth his paycheck will find a way to penetrate the initial rush of the defensive line. Making it past only two linebackers could be a running back's dream.
This is where the Texans could find some trouble.
If the initial push from the defensive line cannot stop the running back, then they could wind up exposed and could give up huge yardage in the run game. They must address this issue and ensure it does not happen or else the improved pass defense will be for naught.