In 2009, the Texans started off 1-2 with one of the worst run defenses in recent memory. They allowed 190 rushing yards to the Jets in Week One, 240 rushing yards to Tennessee in Week Two, and 185 rushing yards to the Jaguars in Week Three. Before the Oakland game started, Bernard Pollard was inserted into the starting lineup over Dominique Barber at strong safety. The Texans run defense came together with a true in-the-box safety, and they got their first winning season in franchise history.
A year later, the Texans are faced with a similar dilemma. 2-1, but with one of the worst pass defenses in recent memory. 419 yards passing to the Colts in Week One, 403 yards passing to the Redskins in Week Two, and 284 yards passing to the Cowboys last week as noted bust Roy Williams shredded the Texans secondary play after play. Getting Brian Cushing back will obviously help all facets of the defense, but is there a personnel move the team can make that can give them a similar spark to last season?
Benching Eugene Wilson - Starter Eugene Wilson has put the "free" in free safety so far this year. Free yards all over the field, free receivers over the middle, free second chances by dropping interceptions, missing tackles in a way that makes me yearn for free booze. He's easily been the worst of every secondary member. In addition, Troy Nolan flashed good instincts in the preseason and the aforementioned Barber provided a spark for the Texans when he played last season. Somebody out there has gotta be better than Wilson at this point.
Downsides: Uhh...veteran leadership? Yeah, I can't think of any.
Showing up to Aaron Schobel's house with a dumptruck full of money - Another way to upgrade your pass defense is to get a better pass rush. With Connor Barwin going on IR, the Texans have been forced to use Jesse Nading and give Ryan Denney a role. The pass rush has suffered without Barwin, and the Texans biggest problem against the Cowboys last Sunday was that they could not generate any to save their sorry secondary. Schobel could step in and give the Texans a third legitimate pass rusher alongside Antonio Smith and Mario Williams.
Downsides: He's probably out of shape. He is old. The Texans front office doesn't recognize that old players play football.
Benching Kareem Jackson - The rookie first rounder has been burnt early and often. He's shown a noticeable lack of technique, slipped in short coverage on a long touchdown for Williams, and has given up deep ball after deep ball. This is looking like more of a Duane Brown pick than a Brian Cushing one.
Downsides: He's still young, you'd hate to kill his confidence. Brice McCain hasn't really shown that he's any better. In fact, the Texans might not have anyone who is better. Maybe they should've actually gone after some free agent cornerbacks or found some trades instead of sitting on their hands.
Platooning Bernard Pollard - Pollard is an amazing in-the-box run stuffing safety, but he's a liability in coverage and teams have tried to exploit that. One possibility to improve the pass defense would be to get Pollard off the field in obvious pass situations and let a safety with better ball skills or perhaps even a cornerback see some more snaps.
Downsides: None of the Texans bench players are really good enough to make much of a difference, and if they were, they should be starting for Wilson anyway.
Play less zone: Frank Bush has responded to the sad state of his secondary by trying to make his Colts gameplan work against every team: lots of zone, lots of underneath completions, and hoping they bend instead of break. The Texans get no pass rush and every team on the planet knows these zone routes, which often leads to the Texans giving up wide open completions.
Downsides: Hahah, yeah, Frank Bush with an aggressive game plan. I tickle myself sometimes.
The Texans pass defense needs a lot of work right now, and nobody on the defense is blameless. That said, I'm more inclined to give Jackson a couple of games to save his job considering he's a rookie and plausibly could catch up to the speed of the NFL. The obvious solution is to bench Eugene Wilson. We'll see if the Texans follow through.