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Monday, April 18, 2011
Numbers review: Texans' coverage issues

By Paul Kuharsky

The Texans were terrible against the pass last season. It’s the first thing we say about the team whenever we discuss upgrades, as we debate just how much a better pass rush can help a young secondary.

There will be personnel additions on the line, at linebacker and in the secondary as they shift into the 3-4 scheme of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

They need to defend the middle of the field far better.

ESPN Stats & Information says the Texans were one of only three teams in the NFL to allow a passer rating higher than 100 on throws inside the numbers. They allowed 20 touchdowns in that territory while collecting just five interceptions.

They allowed a league-worst 9.1 yards per pass and 113.2 passer rating to go along with a completion percentage of 68.5 (27th in the league).

When the Texans went to nickel, bringing Brice McCain or Jason Allen on the field as an extra defensive back, they also struggled: 7.2 yards per attempt ranked 26th, 15 sacks tied for 30th, 18 touchdowns tied for 29th and an 89.5 passer rating was 29th.

I’ve leaned heavily toward outside linebacker or defensive end high in the draft based on the players likely to be available for the Texans at No. 11. While they certainly need a cornerback, I tend to think a veteran would be the better addition to the mix, and to emphasize that the safety spots are also a giant issue.

But it’s hard to count on landing a quality corner in free agency as the top guys don’t come free and the Texans are unlikely to open the vault for the one big prize, Nnamdi Asomugha. Perhaps the veteran for the secondary comes at safety.

Which means if he’s still on the board, Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara could be enticing when measured against the best front-seven options.