Texans seek players to fit new 3-4 defense

INDIANAPOLIS — The Texans struggled on defense last season, surrendering the fourth-most points (26.7 per game) in the NFL, and that led to two key changes.

First, they hired Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator. Secondly, they decided to switch to a 3-4 scheme from their previous 4-3.

“When you switch systems, you’re looking for different types of players,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said. “The thing that’s probably the easiest to say is we’ve opened ourselves up to potential options that were not there before, some guys that may not be the great defensive ends, but have some pass-rushing ability that fit in a 3-4 that don’t necessarily fit in a 4-3. We have to get in the room and educate our scouts about what we’re looking for.”

Added coach Gary Kubiak: “We made a big commitment to Wade to come in and get our defensive football team going very quickly. We’ve got a lot of improvements to make in that area, so we’ll have to evaluate the draft. That’s a big part of our football team that needs correcting.”

One of the biggest questions facing the Texans’ defense is what result the switch to a 3-4 scheme will have on LB Brian Cushing. Despite missing four games because of an NFL-mandated suspension, Cushing finished fourth on the team with 76 total tackles, including 53 solo stops.

“What you can get from Brian is you’ve got a very physical player who’s got instincts,” Smith said. “If you’ve got a guy inside who can add some value that way, I think Brian will be able to do that. He’s a physical player. I think he’s a good fit inside. There is a possibility he could play outside.”

– Matt Florjancic, Special to NFL.com

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