Lovie Smith’s revenue philosophy worked for Texans

Heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Jets at NRG Stadium, the Texans are set to finish with the second-most takeaway in team history.

In the 22-13 win at Tennessee, where Lovie Smith’s defense intercepted four passes and Frank Ross’s special teams recovered a fumble, the Texans are set to force 32 turnovers – second to the 2014 team.

In Bill O’Brien’s first season as a coach and Romeo Crennel’s first as defensive coordinator, the Texans produced 34 takeaways in a 9-7 season.

In David Culley’s first season as a coach and Smith’s first as a defensive coordinator, the Texans have 19 points to take away. Only Indianapolis (25), Buffalo (24) and New England (21) have more.

One of the reasons Smith got hired was to solve the take out issue. Last season, not only did the Texans finish with the worst nine in the league, it was also the second smallest in the NFL since 1980.

Whether as a head coach or coordinator, Smith has a history of coaching defenses that requires many turnovers.

“We preach it (and) we believe it,” Smith said. “I don’t think you can say you played a good defensive game unless you take the ball out. When you look at why a team won, you look at the turnover rate. That says a lot. “

In wins over Jacksonville and Tennessee, the Texans forced eight turnovers, including seven interceptions. They have 13 interceptions. Only New England (18), Buffalo (15) and Dallas (15) have more.

The Texans have forced five turnovers in their last two games against Miami and Tennessee. They had never forced at least five turnovers twice in a season, let alone in consecutive games.

“We did some things better defensively,” said Smith. “Number one keeps the ball in front of us. We haven’t given up a lot of explosive games. You have a chance to win when you do this.

“The guys do a great job of (getting take out). By intercepting the ball, we are doing a great job. In an ideal world, nearly 70 coins, (we) have a chance of hitting it a few more times. I’m talking about causing escapees, and that’s part of what we need to do. “

The team record for take-out is six, achieved in a 2009 victory in Tennessee.

Smith thinks the cover of the play area helps with the take out. Its philosophy is simple.

“If you’re a zonal team and you say you have to take the ball out, I think it gives you a better chance if you look at the quarterback rather than the (receiver),” he said. “We’ve played over 30 times against the man (in Tennessee). It’s not like we’re just a zone team, but for me the picks come when you can see the quarterback.

“He (the quarterback) knows where the ball is going and he will tell us that throughout the game. It takes a while for guys to believe it when it wasn’t their main way of playing football. It kind of shows up when you have your eyes on the ball.

Pressure on the quarterback plays a role in getting take out. The Texans have 21 sacks. They have had at least 30 in every season since 2008, when they had 25.

Smith is happy to put pressure on the quarterback to disrupt his timing even if it doesn’t end in a sack.

“Last week (Titans) we faced a team that hadn’t returned the ball a lot,” said Smith. “This week we are up against a team that has spilled the ball a bit.”

The Jets, who started four quarterbacks in Robert Saleh’s first season as a coach, have committed 23 turnovers, an NFL high. Rookie Zach Wilson, the second overall pick in the draft, returns after a four-game absence with a knee injury.

“Zach Wilson is an athletic guy who can throw any shot,” Smith said. “There’s a reason he was the second (selected) player in the draft. When you play a guy like that there are certain things you need to do. We have prepared our defense for the athletic quarters so hopefully we can stop them. “

The Texans face a rookie quarterback for the third time. Wilson follows Trevor Lawrence of Jacksonville and Mac Jones of New England.

The Texans beat the Jaguars 37-21. Lawrence finished with 332 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions and a rating of 70.1.

The Texans lost to the Patriots 25-22. Jones had 231 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 95.3 rating.

Wilson replaces Joe Flacco and Mike White, both on the COVID-19 reserve list. Josh Johnson is the replacement.

“It’s more about us, and we’re going to defend the quarterback position,” Smith said. “They’ve gone up against so many guys, it’s not like they adopt a different game plan every time they hire a different quarterback.”

In six starts, Wilson was 1-5, including a three-point victory in Tennessee. He has four touchdown passes, nine interceptions and a 63.5 rating. He has been sacked 19 times, including 15 in his first three games.

“He hasn’t played in a while (and) I think there will be opportunities there,” said safety Justin Reid. “He’s a talented kid (but) he’s still a freshman who comes from a knee injury.

“I think it will be essential if we get a good start in the game, force him to get into passing situations early. I think that’s going to work a lot in our favor as a defense to create turnovers.

Reid and his defending teammates seem to have adjusted to Smith’s system. But the Texans are still 30th in defense and have a record that is tied for second-worst in the NFL with the Jets and Jaguars.

“It’s a little different, but I’m a fan of it because it’s a lot faster, a lot more aggressive,” said Reid. “You don’t have to do so much reading side by side. It’s more downhill. I think it created extra pressure that we have been missing in recent years.

“Not just understanding it, but really believing it and being good at it. Keeping your eyes on the quarterback in the zones, maintaining the leverage, trusting your teammate to be in his gap. You do your job, you do your job. fly and you have fun with it.

If the Texans stay at their current pace and finish with 32 turnovers – with the benefit of the 17-game season for the first time – this will be the third time they’ve forced at least 30. The first time was in 2004 when they were 30 under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

It took a while for Smith to figure out which players to play and get them to believe in his philosophy.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It takes time to get to this place. Our guys got it really quick. You come in and start preaching it daily, and you hold that mindset and you have enough players who believe in it.

“Ultimately, for guys to believe anything is working, you have to see the results.”

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