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Thursday, January 6, 2011
Scouts Inc: Texans defenders don't fit 3-4

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Transitions from 4-3s to 3-4s can be tough and take time.

Understandably, there are questions about jamming Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, Antonio Smith and Amobi Okoye into the new scheme.

I asked Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. for his thoughts on the move and how the Texans current key front seven personnel could work.

Let me say if you fear outspoken or want only rah-rah right now, cease reading here.

Here's Williamson:
“I hate it. Some guys certainly could work in the 3-4 and a player like Williams would probably be very effective no matter what the system. But, to me, the Texans have a franchise type defensive player in Williams -- and Williams is a great 4-3 defensive end and probably an ordinary 3-4 defensive end. Not to mention, they invested the first overall pick in the guy.

“Wade uses more of an attacking 3-4 rather than a pure two-gapping -- like Jay Ratliff vs. Casey Hampton. Still, I don't see Williams as a difference maker in that system, as most ends in such a system are just role players and not top notch resources. Antonio Smith would be fine at end and Okoye might be okay as a quicker nose tackle, but I also don't like Okoye to hold up against constant double teams. And the Texans won't have the heavier take-on inside linebackers behind the nose tackle to attack guards and the run game in general.

"Cushing is ideal 4-3 strongside linebacker and could fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he isn't the pass rusher of a DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer. Again, it would work, but a waste of an ideal candidate for the 4-3.

“The 3-4 inside linebackers are generally a heavy banger and more of a free flowing guy. Ryans would be fine as the weakside free flowing inside linebacker -- but he isn't a banger.

“To me, instead of changing systems, I would keep the 4-3 (4-3 defenses can work in this league) and draft/sign secondary help like crazy and maybe another defensive lineman or two. Now, the secondary problems are just as massive as they were with a 4-3 system, but they have to find new pieces to make the transition even feasible.

“Is Wade THAT good of a coach to make all of this worth it – especially with Mario? I highly doubt it.”