The Texans finished last season with a NFL low seven interceptions. That number needs to be bigger in 2014.
Under Wade Phillips last season the Texans spent a large number of snaps in man-to-man. Newly appointed defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel likes to mix things up more. Even to the point of changing assignments after the ball has snapped.
“I like it a whole lot better than last year because it gives us flexibility,” safety D.J. Swearinger said during OTAs. “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.”
“We definitely have a chance to disguise a little bit more as opposed to being out there like sitting ducks and you know just waiting for it to happen to us,” Jackson said of the difference in defensive schemes. “I think we’ll have a lot more chances to see the ball come out instead of having our backs to the ball and playing a lot of man. I’m sure we’ll play man, but we’ll defiantly mix it up a lot more than usual.”
In 2013, the Texans had a minus-20 turnover differential, the worst in the NFL. Phillip’s unit forced an NFL low 11 turnovers, an NFL record low for a 16-game season.
“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.”
During training camp look for the return of Johnathan Joseph if you can find him. The versatility Crennel and head coach Bill O’Brien want will be on full display during camp. Players in the secondary will be lining up all over the field, including the much talked about shift of Kareem Jackson to the inside.
“I think it’s going pretty good,” Jackson said said of playing on the inside. “Definitely a lot of fun in there, a lot of opportunity, a lot closer to the ball so I definitely have some chances to make some plays and stuff. It’s been fun and I think I’ve been learning pretty well.”
Several players in the secondary were shocked how good Jackson looked while lining up inside since he had never played inside at any level before.
The safety position is also a place of focus this offseason. Swearinger, who is entering his second year, said he learned a tremendous amount from both Ed Reed and Danieal Manning during his rookie season. Both are now gone and have been replaced by free agents Kendrick Lewis and Chris Clemons. Lewis had been lining up next to Swearinger during OTAs and mini camp and knows the system well. He played under Crennel in Kansas City.