Look, we bloggers are a cynical sort, and even we think Wade Phillips hiring will have an effect on the Texans defense. I mean, I wrote a whole piece on reasons to be optimistic about the turnover. With a few necessary fixes, it's very possible that the Texans defense could become solid.
One of the reasons I didn't pick? Being optimistic about it because the Texans turned around the running game last year.
Section A: Wherein John McClain talks about the Texans turning the running game around like it was a magical coaching decision
Here's the way I look at it: After the 2009 season, Kubiak said his two priorities were improving a running game that ranked 30th and a red-zone offense that ranked 12th in touchdowns and 22nd in scoring.
Changes had to be made in the offensive staff. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left for Washington and was replaced by Rick Dennison. Kubiak added Greg Knapp as quarterbacks coach.
Nobody wanted Shanahan to leave though, as he was a good offensive coordinator and Matt Schaub thrived under him. Hiring a quarterbacks coach has nothing to do with turning around a running game.
Alex Gibbs, the assistant head coach who oversaw the offensive line, bolted for Seattle. That meant John Benton was finally in charge of the offensive line after working under Gibbs and his predecessor, Mike Sherman.
Dennison recommended the Texans sign free-agent guard Wade Smith, and he started on the left side. The remaining players in the offensive lineup were already in place.
So Kubiak and company figured out that the Texans offense already had all the talent in the world. Yet, why were they so bad in 2009? Well, part of it was the offensive guard position that Smith filled, yes. Part of it was Vonta Leach (presumably) playing hurt and not being very effective in 2009. Who else on the team could possibly have led that turn around? Hmmm...
Working with some new coaches and one free-agent starter, the Texans improved the running game to seventh, and Arian Foster led the NFL with 1,616 yards rushing, 2,220 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns.
John, let me help you out here: the Texans running game didn't improve to seventh just because they found some new coaches and a free agent guard. The Texans running game improved to seventh because they stopped using Steve Slaton and found ONE OF THE GREATEST UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS IN NFL HISTORY. The same one who played very well in the last two games of the 2009 season, once he was finally given a chance.
You think, maybe, that had something to do with it? Maybe?
Section B: In which McClain proves that this can be done with the defense...somehow, and finally ditches one of his binkies
Now the Texans have to make similar improvement in a defense that finished 30th, 13th against the run and 32nd against the pass.
The transformation began with the hiring of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. Vance Joseph was hired last week to coach the secondary. Reggie Herring could be hired as early as today to coach linebackers.
In retrospect, Smith, Kubiak and the defensive coaches misjudged the defense coming off the 9-7 record in 2009 when the unit tied for 13th overall, tied for 10th against the run and 18th against the pass.
Oh well that's all well and g....W-W-W-waaaaiiiit a minute! Did you just say 13th overall? Tied for 10th against the run and 18th against the pass? There's some split you've got to be forgetting here...some split that was very important, and was pointed out anytime anyone questioned whether the defense was really going anywhere last season and if they'd be able to turn it around. What could it have been?
Is this the end of the fourth best defense over the last thirteen games meme?
Looking back, the Texans should have franchised cornerback Dunta Robinson again. With him, they surrendered 19 touchdown passes. Without him, they allowed 33.
No, no they should not have. But just keep saying it! Spending a lot of money on a mediocre cornerback would have totally made everything better! Yeah! Lets give Josh Wilson $57 million this offseason!
This season, every defensive back played worse than in 2009, which is one reason their coach, David Gibbs, was fired.
What were the other reasons? Did he smoke on the field? Sell drugs to kids in the stands?
The Texans need to sign some free agents, including a big-time cornerback, and use the early part of the draft, including the 11th pick in the first round, to fortify a defense that can be the difference between another losing season and making the playoffs.
Yes they do, badly. Which seems to be a problem because nobody knows what will happen with free agency this year. But your title here is "quick fixes can improve Texans defense", and signing multiple free agents is not a quick fix.
Unless of course the Texans happen to sign the Arian Foster of UFA free agent safeties. Torri Williams, you are now a superstar!
One reason a defensive metamorphosis shouldn't be all that difficult is that the Texans were terrible on that side of the ball for one season. It's not like the defense had been horrendous the last several years. It ranked in the top half in 2009 but bottomed out last season.
Except they weren't that good in 2009. Or 2008. Or 2007. Or 2006. Or any time. Ever. (But they were the fourth best defense over the last 13 games!!!!)
Long story short, this article was mistitled and imbued with the kind of hope and optimism that many have used to charge McClain with being a Texans cheerleader. The Texans defense can turn it around, but they don't need tinkering, they need a full tear down. To pretend otherwise is silly, and to pretend like fluking into finding one of the best undrafted free agents of all-time on offense sets a historical precedent for a quick turnaround is ridiculous.
And no John, that doesn't mean I make $50 selling myself on the street.