The Houston Texans have taken roster rejuvenation to a whole new level this offseason at the hands of new general manager Nick Caserio in an attempt to breathe new life into a team that struggled for consistency in 2020. And heading into his first year with the organization, defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is excited with the group Caserio is compiling for him to work with.
"Nick has done an excellent job," said Smith on Thursday.
Smith will be bringing with him his infamous 4-3 'Tampa 2' defense that proved so productive during his time in Chicago and Tampa Bay to name but a couple. This scheme requires an overhaul of their 3-4 geared defensive staff, but Smith clearly feels optimistic about how Caserio is accomplishing this.
"As you know we were based out of a 3-4 front for quite a few years here, so it is a transition, and the first thing coach (David) Culley and of course Nick what we all got together to do is to start overhauling the roster and get our personnel to fit it," said Smith.
"I feel like we're close to that right now. I love all of the free agency moves that we've made because some of the positions we're going to play with a little bit of a different guy. You mentioned linebacker, we play with a little bit of a different linebacker, our linebackers are more space guys, run, speed, as a premium with it. Having a four-man front now, we have to kind of adjust that a little bit, but I feel like we've done that. We like our roster that we have right now before we add some players in the draft."
Linebackers are particularly crucial in Smith's scheme with versatility and athleticism key from all three, and especially so from the middle linebacker. And one key component of this defense moving forward will be tackling machine and middle linebacker Zach Cunningham, who appears to have caught the eye of his new coordinator.
"We have some young players on all three levels, I'm talking D-line, linebacker of course, and back in the secondary that can really elevate their game," said Smith.
"A player like Zach Cunningham, there's a reason why we're paying him what we're paying him. I'm excited about so many of our young football players and I think they'll fit perfectly in our defense."
But while the individual stars like Cunningham may be the focal points, Smith seemed keen to emphasize that it will take competitiveness from top to bottom throughout this roster for this defense to become what they once were.
"But as far as the roster, the guy who you would say is at the bottom of the depth chart, I hope he's good enough to play for us and he brings competition," said Smith.
"Every guy each day needs to feel like they need to be at the top of their game, that's what's going to help our football team, that's what's going to help our defense rise, to get them back up at the top. Houston Texans have played great defense around here in the past, and eventually, we're going to get back to that."
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