Texans Focusing On Red Zone, Third-Down Defense

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- While Bill O’Brien has said he feels good about the Texans’ versatility on defense, it’s clear they need to make some vast improvements in 2020.

Houston ranked last in red zone defense and next to last in third-down conversion percentage last season. 

With new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, this is something the Texans are trying to address. 

"That’s a big thing we’re focused on,” Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt said Saturday. “Obviously, getting off the field on third down and giving the ball back to our offense is huge. One of the main ways to do that is stopping the run on first and second down so you put them into tougher third-down situations. All those things combined are the things that will make us better and it really comes down to all the phases; communicating, playing well together, understanding the defense, keeping offenses off guard. 

“I think Coach (Anthony) Weaver has done a great job so far in our virtual meetings and in the first day we’ve had. We’re looking forward to keeping working with him in the future.”

The Texans also struggled rushing the passer last season, one of just six teams with fewer than two sacks per game.

They used their top two draft picks on defensive lineman Ross Blacklock, a Houston-area native out of TCU, and edge rusher Jonathan Greenard from the University of Florida. 

Aside from those additions, and the loss of D.J. Reader in free agency, the Texans pass rushing threats are still intact.

Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus said he couldn’t be more happy to have Weaver as the defensive coordinator because of how he’s coaching to everyone’s strengths.

“He’s taken everybody’s talents into account as far as putting it in place for this defense and bringing up some really cool, interesting concepts as well, some new formations and stuff like that for us to go out there and go have fun,” Mercilus said.

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