Kubiak looking for 'big-time improvement' on D

February, 20, 2009
2/20/09
8:21
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Houston Texans are not going to stand pat on offense, but it's clear their offseason priority is to fortify a defense that will be led by new coordinator Frank Bush.

The Texans had the NFL's third-ranked offense and fourth-ranked passing offense in 2008, but were only 17th in points scored per game.

They don't have a glaring need on offense, while the defense could use at least one addition to every unit -- a pass-rushing end, a beefier linebacker, upgrades at safety, an additional option opposite Dunta Robinson at corner.

"Our offense has made improvement all three years, and more so this past year than any," coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think Kyle [Shanahan] has done a great job, getting Alex [Gibbs] to come with us has been a huge benefit to our offensive coaching staff and our offensive football team. We've made some strides there. We feel good about where we're at.

"Can we get better? You bet. We can definitely get better. I think landing the young back [Steve Slaton] was huge for us last year and we were very fortunate there. I am not going to say we're set there and we're going to move on, that's not the case. We're going to try to get better on offense, but obviously we've got to make some big-time improvement on the defensive side of the ball."

Some other snippets from Kubiak and Rick Smith's podium talks at the combine Friday:

  • Kubiak made pass-rush help for Mario Williams sound like priority No. 1: "Mario's career could improve drastically the more help we can get him up front, so that's a point of emphasis for our football team."
  • While Williams has played mostly on the right side and DeMeco Ryans is a middle linebacker, Kubiak wouldn't completely rule out moving them. Williams' flexibility means the team can consider more ends and "we're not going to eliminate looking at various linebackers because [Ryans] is a middle linebacker. We're going to try to get better athletically as a football team and then adjust from there."
  • Smith said the Texans' players believe they are on the cusp of something big: "I think our guys understand how close we are. We obviously have to add a few players and improve ourselves in a couple of areas and protect the football a little better and keep our quarterback healthy. But I think our team understands now that they're capable of winning. And that's what's exciting."
  • Kubiak likes the energy new strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright brings, but said the former assistant won't be implementing any major philosophical changes in the team's programs.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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