Originally Posted by pec0sb0b
The short term drop-off is against the pass over the middle and short routes outside the hash marks. Ideally you like one pass-rusher/run-stopper and one cover guy as your ILBs in your base 3-4 and nickel. This would have been Cushing and Sharpton, had Sharpton not been injured...James was signed as a short term replacement for Sharpton, familar with the system, a downhill player, but poor at coverage, so Cushing had to become the cover ILB. Sharpton, a converted 4-3 OLB is the best cover LB on the roster and will fill this role when he returns.
Texans' base 3-4:
Contrary to what you mave read elsewhere, this year the Texans have been using a 2-4-5 nickel* and a 2-3-6 dime. In the 2-4-5 nickel there are four linemen (two OLBs and two DEs), two ILBs (normally) and five DBs. In the nickel formation, like the base 3-4, ideally you want one pass-rusher/run-stopper ILB(Cushing) and one cover ILB (Sharpton). *In this package the Texans have been using SS Glover Quin in the role of cover ILB, who I believe would have been replaced in this package by Sharpton on his return from injury, so technically up to the Cushing injury there was no difference between the Texans' nickel and dime except that they moved Quin around.
In the Texans dime package there are four linemen (two OLBs and two DEs), one ILB and six DBs. Cushing has been the lone ILB in this package (I wonder if Sharpton would have taken this role at some point as Cushing is not really that good in coverage).
That was before Cushing and Demps were injured. In the base 3-4 they'll rotate Dobbins and Alexander alongside James. All of these guys play well downhill but basically suck in coverage so the defense is going to have a hard time with passes over the middle and short routes outside the hash marks on first downs. One option to help with this until Sharpton's return could be to sub Quin at ILB in the base package like they've been doing in the nickel. Now that Demps is out Nolan would come in at SS.
Texans' new base 3-4 before Sharpton returns:
In the nickel they've already been subbing a safety for the cover ILB so in this formation the biggest difference will be the loss of Cushing's pass-rush abilty over James. Again, now that Demps is out Nolan would come in at SS.
Texans' new nickel before Sharpton returns:
Up to this point I believe I've been on firm ground...now I'm not as confident. I don't see really James as the sole ILB in the dime package.
Texans' dime before Sharpton returns:
Reed-Watt-Smith-Barwin/James(Quin?)/JJ-KJ-McCain-Manning-Nolan-Quin(Harris?Carmichael?) with Quin at ILB that would technically be a quarter package.
After Sharpton's return (maybe week 9-10):
Texans' base 3-4:
I do think that they had plans to draft an ILB next year, but that they also wanted to see if Reed could learn to play inside, the same thing they've been doing with Cushing. The Texan's OLBs do have a fair amount of coverage responsibilities, often allowing other defenders to rush the passer inside, so I think this is a possibility of Reed being moved to ILB somewhere down the road. But then, the plan is probably to let Barwin walk next year, start Mercilus at OLB opposite Reed and draft to upgrade at ILB.
Nice work, but a couple of your base 3-4 lineups would have 12 men on the field. I assume McCain would be the odd-man-out. Also, this thing about Reed possibly being moved to ILB, is this a rumor started by fans or is there some evidence the Texans are looking at this? If so, could you or, anyone else, provide a link? I haven't heard of this being mentioned from the Texans at all and I just wonder if Reed has the skill set to do this. I know it looks good on paper, moving him to ILB and having Mercilus as OLB, but has Reed ever played ILB? It's a lot tougher position mentally than OLB. Not saying he couldn't handle it, but if he's never played the position, that's a tough move to make this quickly.