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Can the Texans’ Secondary Get the Job Done this Year?

Gary Kubiak got something that no one expected him to get at the end of the 2010 season—another chance.

A year after he guided the team to its first winning record in team history in 2009 and raising expectations for the young team, the Texans floundered to a 6-10 record. That was with the most dangerous passing and catching duo in the league (Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson) and the league’s No 1 running game.

As Kubiak and Texans fans found out though, if you can’t stop people from passing on you, than you will not win too many games. With the offense at his disposal, Kubiak and the Texans have brought in a solid defensive coordinator in Wade Phillips who has a history of coaching tough defensive units.

Last season no team gave up as many yards through the air as the Texans did (267.5). They tied the Dallas Cowboys for the lead in most passing touchdowns given up (33) and only a handful of teams had fewer interceptions than they did (13).

With the high powered running attack that the Texans were able to employ on offense, teams often did not have a choice but to pass on the Texans. The secondary was also a pretty green one. Kareem Jackson, the team’s first round pick out of Alabama in 2010, was thrust into the starter’s role immediately. The rest of the group was all late round draft picks from 2008 and ’09.

So does the fault fall on the general manager for not giving the team the players it needs to succeed? Or does it fall on the coaching staff for not teaching them how to play at the NFL level? Whatever the case, changes have been (Phillips was brought in) made and it will not be surprising to see if there are more once the lockout ends.

Phillips will get the front seven to perform to the best of their ability. Running on the Texans will not be easy next season, and don’t be surprised to see Mario Williams’s name near the top of the sack list as well. The front seven will get more pressure on opposing QBs, hopefully making the job of the secondary a little easier.

The biggest unknown will be who will be lining up in the secondary. As painful as it was to watch Jackson and McCain get burned time and time again last season, the hope is that the experience will have made them much better players. Jackson could benefit greatly with the switch to a 3-4.

"I don't see this as difficult," Jackson said. "This is the defense I ran in college (Alabama). Some of the terminology is different."

The team did focus on the defense in the draft, but it did not take a secondary player until late in the second round, Brandon Harris out of Miami. They also got Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech) in the fourth round and Shiloh Keo (Idaho) in the fifth.

It would not be surprising to see Harris get some early playing time. Miami still has a reputation for turning out some of the toughest football players in the country. However, Shiloh Keo’s experience playing against some of the most prolific college offenses in the nation (Boise State, Nevada, Hawaii) could help him get up to NFL speed quickly.

Now if only this pesky lockout would end and we could find out!


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