The Texans got bigger all over the field this offseason -- most notably in the front and center of their defense.
"Because of the way we play the technique, generally we’ve had bigger guys to be along that front," defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. "Then we try to put the more athletic guys on the edge of the defense to let them make plays there."
The Texans completely reconfigured their nose tackle position this offseason -- mainly because Crennel asks for a different kind of body type and skill set than Wade Phillips did as not all 3-4 schemes are alike. When it works well in Crennel's system, it works like the way Vince Wilfork has worked in New England.
As part of their makeover, Houston let the relatively svelte Earl Mitchell, last year's starter, walk in free agency. By the start of free agency the Texans had no nose tackles on the roster. Then Houston drafted Louis Nix and added Jerrell Powe and Ricardo Mathews in free agency, all of them 300 pounders -- at least.
"Hopefully you can get a guy that commands double teams because if he commands double teams, then someone is going to be free," Crennel said. "We tell them that you have to command the double team and then beat the double team at the line of scrimmage to get somebody free because if you get double teamed and get knocked 5 yards back, chances are someone is not going to be free and there is going to be a big hole in the defense."
Nix has been limited by a knee injury. Powe has looked incredibly agile for his 331 pounds. He's also familiar with Crennel's system by a previous union in Kansas City.
Powe understands his position like Crennel does. He bases his success on what others around him are able to do. The linebackers and the free safety thrive off of a nose tackle who can successfully absorb blocks.
"When those guys are eating good that's always good because we’re doing our job," Powe said. "You’re not going to make too many plays at the nose guard position, but when Cush and all those guys are doing well, I feel good. When I look back and they're getting (tackles for loss), I know I'm doing a good job. Even when I'm doing bad and they make a TFL, I know it's good.”