Swearinger likes this D better than last

Swearinger likes this D better than last
May 29, 2014, 4:15 pm
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(USA Today Images)

Safety D.J. Swearinger is learning his second defense in as many years in the NFL. He played in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 last year and will line up in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 in 2014.

He likes this one more.

“It’s a lot of adjustments but it’s all adjustments for the better,” Swearinger said on Thursday, after the Texans wrapped up their third day of OTAs. “We like it. I like it a whole lot better than last year because it gives us flexibility. We’ll be able to confuse a lot of quarterbacks, switching calls and stuff like that. I like it and just ready to keep going with it.”

In 2013, the Texans lost the turnover game consistently. They had a minus-20 turnover differential, the worst in the NFL. Of the 35 teams since the merger with a minus-20 turnover differential or worse, just one has had a winning record. The Texans went 2-14 in 2013.

And while the Texans’ quarterbacks threw their fair share of interceptions, the defense was just as much to blame. In 2013, it forced just 11 turnovers (seven interceptions). That wasn’t just the worst in the league last year but was an NFL record low for a 16-game season.

Swearinger thinks those extra calls the defense has will help them in that category.

“It’s a lot of just throwing the quarterbacks off that we’re playing against,” Swearinger said. “Great quarterbacks in this league and we have to switch up the calls and do different things to play with the quarterbacks and that’s how we get turnovers.”  

Swearinger said this defense has more pre-snap calls than Phillips’ defense, which means it will require more thinking before the play and will rely less on reacting.

The safety from South Carolina and the rest of his defensive teammates have been working hard to pick up the new defense. They haven’t learned it all yet but are getting there and Swearinger said it hasn’t been too difficult for them to understand.

“It hasn’t been tough,” he said. “We have a lot of smart guys in the secondary and on this defense. As a pro, it’s your job to know and adjust to different calls and whatever the coaches throw at us. It’s our job to learn it, stay in that playbook and when our number’s called, go and do it.”

It might just be Swearinger’s second year in the league but head coach Bill O’Brien, when asked about leadership on Thursday, listed Swearinger among the group. He was the youngest player the head coach named.

“I think he’s passionate about the game,” O’Brien said. “I do believe he’s a young player but he practices hard, he’s coachable, I believe he’s a good teammate and I believe he’s a guy that really loves football and that’s what I like about D.J.”

Swearinger said leading is a natural ability for him. He’s been vocal on the field since his first day of rookie minicamp last year. He often dances around and yells to his teammates. His charisma is sometimes contagious.

But what he didn’t already know about how to play in the NFL, he learned from Danieal Manning and Ed Reed. Both veteran safeties are no longer members of the Texans but Swearinger said the two taught him how to handle himself as a pro.

“Well, I got a year in the books, so I’m trying to come off last year and improve tremendously,” Swearinger said. “I got a year experience and that helps a lot coming off that year and I’m just ready to get better.”