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Old 04-15-2008   #1
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Default Jethro Franklin Interview

Hey, I know that this has been mentioned in passing in the LZ draft show thread, and a little bit in the Travis Johnson thread, but I believe that this topic is worth being highlighted so here it is:

FanHouse: Texans Defensive Line Coach Talks About Mario and More

Basically, I highlighted some of the things I thought were interesting in the Jethro Franklin interview that was done on John and Lance's show, with a little bit of commentary about it. If you are able, I think the interview is worth a listen.

And thanks to LZ and John for doing such a great interview and getting some answers to some questions that really shouldn't be breaking news but turned out to be information that I haven't seen anywhere else. We like to beyotch about what is wrong with local media, but I much prefer saying what I like.
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Old 04-15-2008   #2
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Cool Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

Thanks TC!

Quote:
On defensive tackle Amobi Okoye: His youth is no excuse as he has always played against older guys. He has some things to work on that are private between Franklin and Okoye. One of the things that he needs to work on is finishing plays.
Anyone have speculation?
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Old 04-15-2008   #3
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

His endurance.
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Old 04-15-2008   #4
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texans_Chick View Post
Hey, I know that this has been mentioned in passing in the LZ draft show thread, and a little bit in the Travis Johnson thread, but I believe that this topic is worth being highlighted so here it is:

FanHouse: Texans Defensive Line Coach Talks About Mario and More

Basically, I highlighted some of the things I thought were interesting in the Jethro Franklin interview that was done on John and Lance's show, with a little bit of commentary about it. If you are able, I think the interview is worth a listen.

And thanks to LZ and John for doing such a great interview and getting some answers to some questions that really shouldn't be breaking news but turned out to be information that I haven't seen anywhere else. We like to beyotch about what is wrong with local media, but I much prefer saying what I like.
Great piece. Most interesting parts to me were 1. Anthony Weaver could actually make an impact for us this year, and 2. According to our d-line coach, Travis Johnson is a great fit and a very good player for this team.
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Old 04-15-2008   #5
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

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Originally Posted by Fox View Post
Great piece. Most interesting parts to me were 1. Anthony Weaver could actually make an impact for us this year, and 2. According to our d-line coach, Travis Johnson is a great fit and a very good player for this team.
Of course, there's no point in Franklin dumping these guys in the grease because Weaver's cap situation is bad, and the Texans aren't likely drafting Dlineman high yet again.
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Old 04-15-2008   #6
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

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Originally Posted by Yankee_In_TX View Post
Thanks TC!



Anyone have speculation?
I think at the end of the year that they go over things with all the players, but that they don't like sharing those things to the public at large. No sense telling your enemies your weaknesses.
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Old 04-16-2008   #7
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

I loved the comments about Travis Johnson! Watching him at the games last year I really felt like he was playing with a higher "motor" than anyone on the field other than maybe Robinson. I remember him flying sideline to sideline (and picking up 15 for a late hit) but he was flying. Making tackles in the numbers, taking up space in the middle. I thought he played outstanding. I've been trying to defend him all year. I think he is playing great. I'd like to see him improve against the pass but as a tackler and a ball hawk, I think he's really doing well.
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Old 04-16-2008   #8
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

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I'd like to see him improve against the pass but as a tackler and a ball hawk, I think he's really doing well.
Playing the position he does, he's not going to get a lot of Sacks...

Playing the pass well for him = batted passes/getting his hands up
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Old 04-16-2008   #9
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

This need to be a break out year for Weaver and another step forward by TJ.
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Old 04-16-2008   #10
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

Thanks for always being a value add to the board TC!
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Old 04-16-2008   #11
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

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Thanks for always being a value add to the board TC!
I appreciate the kind words. I like having peeps to talk Texans football with. Most of my friends are very casual fans if fans at all.

I figure if I'm looking this stuff up anyway because I'm curious about it, I might as well share it with other peoples. The blog posts are kind of funny way of doing things because they are a type of informal history.
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Old 04-17-2008   #12
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

Quote:
In the modern salary cap era, there are a ton of teams who rely on young defensive players in key roles, and they don't end up in the bottom three defensive rankings each year. Franklin repeated throughout the interview that they refuse to make excuses, and that they just have to play. Of course, that is what a coach has to say in the face of inexperience and injuries, but it would be nice to see what their defense is actually supposed to look like.

Do you feel comfortable staying pat with a healthy Anthony Weaver, Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye and Travis Johnson as your starting defensive line? I'm not sure that there really is any other option than that given how much salary is tied up on the line.
When you say "but it would be nice to see what their defense is actually supposed to look like", what are you really getting at? I'm not sure I understand what is you want to see? Are you referring to scheme, playing potential, what?

I think it's worth bearing in mind that Mario has played just two seasons, Amobi just one season, Travis has three seasons. All three of them won't even reach thier primes for another five or six years. But I've seen flashes from all three of them so far that has me excited about watching them grow and play together. I'm not as worried about the defense as some people are. Not only do I think they'll be just fine, I think watching the defense play will be more fun than watching the offense.
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Old 04-17-2008   #13
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

I think our DL will be fine IF the OLBs and Safeties step it up at least a couple of notches.

Mario COULD be awesome. I hope he builds on what he accomplished last year. Sometimes FEELING some success adds coals to fire of desire.

Amobi should be improved, too. I think they played him too much last year for as young and inexperienced as he is. Obviously, the talent is there but, sometimes getting less PT and having the opportunity to actually experience the game from the sideline is beneficial to younger, not as mature players. I hope they develop some kind of rotation this year and allow him more time to grow into the position.

Weaver and Johnson are "team" defensive players and are okay in that role if the OLBs can pick up their game it will make an impact on how effective they are as part of the team defense.

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Old 04-17-2008   #14
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
When you say "but it would be nice to see what their defense is actually supposed to look like", what are you really getting at? I'm not sure I understand what is you want to see? Are you referring to scheme, playing potential, what?

I think it's worth bearing in mind that Mario has played just two seasons, Amobi just one season, Travis has three seasons. All three of them won't even reach thier primes for another five or six years. But I've seen flashes from all three of them so far that has me excited about watching them grow and play together. I'm not as worried about the defense as some people are. Not only do I think they'll be just fine, I think watching the defense play will be more fun than watching the offense.
More philosophy and scheme together.

What we know about the offense is that Kubiak wanted to bring the Denver playbook to Houston. There's been bumps in the road with the running game because 1. who we have had at RB and 2. the blocking was different than Denver.

Even though he hasn't been completely able to do his thing yet because he hadn't had the pieces and parts together, you can see vast improvement on the offensive side of the ball compared to the cobbled together offense of the old coaching regime. Kubiak is able to target guys in free agency and the draft who fit what he values in his offense.

What do we know about the defense? We know that Richard Smith has never been a sole DC before. That in his previous spot, it was Nick Saban's defense, and Saban was in the defensive meetings. That Miami ran a 3-4.

When Richard Smith came to Houston, the newspaper had a brief story on what Smith's defense is supposed to look like: an aggressive 4-3. That doesn't tell you squat about what it is supposed to look like. Different ways a 4-3 can look.

Throughout the league, you know what different defenses value. For example, the Colts value fast guys on the line, and don't care so much on the backend because of the Tampa 2. You know what a Pittsburgh defense is supposed to look like. Or a Patriots defense. Often the best teams in the league have a specific identity and philsophy for a side of the ball, and then they acquire players relentlessly to suit that philosophy.

In the modern salary cap era, targeting your kind of players becomes more and more important because you don't want to invest in guys who don't really do what you are looking to do (Anthony Weaver perhaps?) I do not know what Richard Smith's philosophy on defense is. Is it just whatever his assistants like to run? Does Hoke just do his thing for the secondary and Franklin do his thing on the line?

When I am looking to see what the Texans value on their defense for purposes of the draft, its hard to pinpoint which guys they would think would be good fits for what they are trying to do because a lot of times I can't see what they are trying to do.

For example, I think Okoye plays the same position that TJ plays. I would think that the Texans would like a space eating DT, but apparently from the Franklin interview, that is not something that this defense values.

The Texans defense was ranked by footballoutsiders.com as 32nd in 2005, 31st in 2006, and 30th in 2007. Ew. With that sort of way below league average performance, I think it is valid to wonder whether the defensive coaches actually have a defensive philosophy or if they are just aquiring random guys on defense that they think are good players. (or in free agency, just the best guys who are available who are willing to come here).

I have no idea what type of defensive philosophy that the team is shooting for once that their young guys get developed, they get more pieces and parts, they aren't so injured, and the planets and stars are all properly aligned.

In the few years of Richard Smith DC'ing, I have seen some really counterintuitive defensive play calling. The first three games of 2006 demonstrated a defense that was completely miscoached. That the players couldn't come close to doing what Smith wanted them to do. The defensive play calling at the end of a number of Titans games was peculiar. I'm still traumatized by the defensive play calling of the Texans-Buffalo game.

Hey, I realize how hard it is to grow a team. But I would have more confidence in this process if I could look to the DC and say, "Hey that defensive coordinator had terrific success when he was with Chicago--just be patient."

The Texans have a bad defense, the defensive coordinator has no history of success, and we have still have no idea what his defense is supposed to look like.

Each week in the season, we get the story about how the defense we will see on the field has been dumbed down because they couldn't run it the way Smith wanted to, and the secondary had to play so simple because they didn't have the personnel to do anything else. I would love it if this is the season where they get to unleash the hounds. But even if the Texans go secondary at #18, do you think we get to see something more complex on the backside of this defense?

I also believe that you need in the modern salary cap era a very teachable, easy to learn and implement defense. With the way free agents move around, and the dependance that good teams need to have on young players, you need a defense that works, that they have confidence in, that players want to play in, and can be taught quickly. This should be known as the anti-Vic Fangio rule.

I do not mean to be unnecessarily alarmist, and I do not have a reputation as being someone who is an impatient fan who wants to fire everyone. I am just a fan of great defenses, and I wish I was seeing more evidence that makes me believe that the Texans are going to be on their way to a great defense. The league is littered with teams who have repeatedly drafted defense high and got nothing from it because the defenses as a whole were miscoached.

On the offensive side of the ball, you have at least four guys who are on the same page philosophically: Gary Kubiak, Kyle Shanahan, Alex Gibbs, Brian Pariani. You know exactly what they want to do on that side of the ball, even if they are still developing players and don't have all their players yet. It is not a surprise that the fastest rising teams after a coaching change are the ones that took their staffs with them. The defense, however, is a mishmash.

I dearly hope that the Texans go from one of the worst defenses in the league to one of the best with little change in personnel from 2007 to 2008. I worry that this is unlikely. I would settle for maybe just league average.
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Old 04-17-2008   #15
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

TC, can you please tell us how you really feel?
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Old 04-17-2008   #16
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

i totally agree about the defense lacking identity. i've debated the "fire richard smith" thing with dalemuphy until i think he's pretty. i just can't help but feel like his personnel has been as big, if not bigger, issue than his philosophy. Given, i have no idea what his philosophy is. Like you said, all I ever heard was very early on. It was supposed to be an aggressive 4-3. Does that mean blitzes alot? Does that mean lots of in your face, bump and run man to man? It usually doesn't mean both at the same time.

I look at our defense and what I see are a bunch of players that didn't fit that style. To go back and do the research and find out who was here when Smith got here and who he's added would probably show a direction in the player selection.

For certain, since he's been here we've been drafting more aggressive defensive players. Demeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye, Fred Bennett....

Of the guys who were already hear I can only say that I think Dunta Robinson is an aggressive player. Morlon Greenwood seems much less attacking. Weaver as well. Faggins, C.C. Brown and Glenn Earl all seem less aggressive. Perhaps it's just that there abilities hinders there actions.

You have to give something to Richard Smith for dealing with last years injuries. He had to "dumb it down" when we lost half our secondary and were bringing in guys off the street. And the truth is the secondary got better after he did that. For a few weeks. Then the simplicity of it caught up to us as the other teams literally just game planned around our vanilla D.

I guess my point is just that It does seem to me that we are bringing in guys that fit a "system" or at least a direction. It may not be a system that has it's own name like the Tampa 2 or anything like that. But It seems to me it's a system that depends on fast smart aggressive play. And I'd say that the players we've added since Richard Smith has been the DC are those types of players.

So, be patient, not three years patient, but patient.
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Old 04-17-2008   #17
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texans_Chick View Post
More philosophy and scheme together.

What we know about the offense is that Kubiak wanted to bring the Denver playbook to Houston. There's been bumps in the road with the running game because 1. who we have had at RB and 2. the blocking was different than Denver.

Even though he hasn't been completely able to do his thing yet because he hadn't had the pieces and parts together, you can see vast improvement on the offensive side of the ball compared to the cobbled together offense of the old coaching regime. Kubiak is able to target guys in free agency and the draft who fit what he values in his offense.

What do we know about the defense? We know that Richard Smith has never been a sole DC before. That in his previous spot, it was Nick Saban's defense, and Saban was in the defensive meetings. That Miami ran a 3-4.

When Richard Smith came to Houston, the newspaper had a brief story on what Smith's defense is supposed to look like: an aggressive 4-3. That doesn't tell you squat about what it is supposed to look like. Different ways a 4-3 can look.

Throughout the league, you know what different defenses value. For example, the Colts value fast guys on the line, and don't care so much on the backend because of the Tampa 2. You know what a Pittsburgh defense is supposed to look like. Or a Patriots defense. Often the best teams in the league have a specific identity and philsophy for a side of the ball, and then they acquire players relentlessly to suit that philosophy.

In the modern salary cap era, targeting your kind of players becomes more and more important because you don't want to invest in guys who don't really do what you are looking to do (Anthony Weaver perhaps?) I do not know what Richard Smith's philosophy on defense is. Is it just whatever his assistants like to run? Does Hoke just do his thing for the secondary and Franklin do his thing on the line?

When I am looking to see what the Texans value on their defense for purposes of the draft, its hard to pinpoint which guys they would think would be good fits for what they are trying to do because a lot of times I can't see what they are trying to do.

For example, I think Okoye plays the same position that TJ plays. I would think that the Texans would like a space eating DT, but apparently from the Franklin interview, that is not something that this defense values.

The Texans defense was ranked by footballoutsiders.com as 32nd in 2005, 31st in 2006, and 30th in 2007. Ew. With that sort of way below league average performance, I think it is valid to wonder whether the defensive coaches actually have a defensive philosophy or if they are just aquiring random guys on defense that they think are good players. (or in free agency, just the best guys who are available who are willing to come here).

I have no idea what type of defensive philosophy that the team is shooting for once that their young guys get developed, they get more pieces and parts, they aren't so injured, and the planets and stars are all properly aligned.

In the few years of Richard Smith DC'ing, I have seen some really counterintuitive defensive play calling. The first three games of 2006 demonstrated a defense that was completely miscoached. That the players couldn't come close to doing what Smith wanted them to do. The defensive play calling at the end of a number of Titans games was peculiar. I'm still traumatized by the defensive play calling of the Texans-Buffalo game.

Hey, I realize how hard it is to grow a team. But I would have more confidence in this process if I could look to the DC and say, "Hey that defensive coordinator had terrific success when he was with Chicago--just be patient."

The Texans have a bad defense, the defensive coordinator has no history of success, and we have still have no idea what his defense is supposed to look like.

Each week in the season, we get the story about how the defense we will see on the field has been dumbed down because they couldn't run it the way Smith wanted to, and the secondary had to play so simple because they didn't have the personnel to do anything else. I would love it if this is the season where they get to unleash the hounds. But even if the Texans go secondary at #18, do you think we get to see something more complex on the backside of this defense?

I also believe that you need in the modern salary cap era a very teachable, easy to learn and implement defense. With the way free agents move around, and the dependance that good teams need to have on young players, you need a defense that works, that they have confidence in, that players want to play in, and can be taught quickly. This should be known as the anti-Vic Fangio rule.

I do not mean to be unnecessarily alarmist, and I do not have a reputation as being someone who is an impatient fan who wants to fire everyone. I am just a fan of great defenses, and I wish I was seeing more evidence that makes me believe that the Texans are going to be on their way to a great defense. The league is littered with teams who have repeatedly drafted defense high and got nothing from it because the defenses as a whole were miscoached.

On the offensive side of the ball, you have at least four guys who are on the same page philosophically: Gary Kubiak, Kyle Shanahan, Alex Gibbs, Brian Pariani. You know exactly what they want to do on that side of the ball, even if they are still developing players and don't have all their players yet. It is not a surprise that the fastest rising teams after a coaching change are the ones that took their staffs with them. The defense, however, is a mishmash.

I dearly hope that the Texans go from one of the worst defenses in the league to one of the best with little change in personnel from 2007 to 2008. I worry that this is unlikely. I would settle for maybe just league average.

I am in almost complete agreement with you regarding Richard Smith. I've been concerned about the lack of identity for some time. After all, if fans like us, who read everything and watch every game with a discerning eye, aren't sure what they are even trying to do- I'd say that may be an indicator of trouble.

Having said that, I would expect dramatic improvement this season on defense. I think the talent has improved dramatically and the youth is developing well. Whether they are philosophically confused on the defensive staff or not, obviously they are doing some good coaching- the improvement of Travis Johnson and Mario Williams and the development of Demeco Ryans as a probowl linebacker are evidence of that. So, I would expect Bennett and Okoye to make strides, Mario, Demeco, and TJ to continue to play well, and contributions from some rookies and perhaps guys like Brandon Harrison and Cochran to contribute as well...

I want an identity though, because the defense will never be great without one. We should see an identity emerge this year. If not, changes need to be made- despite what will be some rather drastic improvement.
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Old 04-17-2008   #18
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

As always, great discussion starter, TC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by barrett View Post
i just can't help but feel like his personnel has been as big, if not bigger, issue than his philosophy.
That's where I get stuck - can't tell what his philosophy is because of the injuries to and quality of the personnel. Does he really not want to blitz as indicated by the first few games of 06 and 07, or is he protecting a weak secondary...blah, blah, blah?

For the first time, I think we are actually getting a glimpse of the types of players, and subsequently, type of system they want to run. Despite the anticipation that they would play zone coverage with the hiring of Ray Rhodes, we've heard they want to play more press/bump and run man coverage, concident with the signing of Reeves, who is reportedly a better fit for this type of scheme. We've also heard they prefer speed over size up front. I'm concerned they'll continue to struggle to stop the run inside, but I'm willing to see how it works, particularly with the additions of Bentley and Thompson, and probably Diles starting at SLB.

Honestly, I'm not as worried about the pass rush. Though the stats don't reflect it, Amobi appeared IMO to get a second wind toward the end of the season, and I think it helped Mario's late push. If AO shows more consistency, which I think he will, I think the front four will be able to get enough pressure without having to draft a DE. Smith also showed some wrinkles, rushing Charlie Anderson from the weak side with good success - Thompson has a good track record here. Smith probably has got a better handle now on what works and what doesn't with the personnel he has. I don't really care so much about identity, but I don't think he'll have the excuse of personnel this season.
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Old 04-17-2008   #19
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

Folks want Richard smith to blitz, but who is he going to blitz with ? Greenwood ? Danny Clark? Our DB's??? LOL...

Demeco has been our best Blitzing LB, but you don't want to blitz your mike all the time...

Look who he's had playing on the side of him...

I wouldn't say that we've had the best LB and DB core for blitzing...Not to mention our less than stellar secondary...

Blitzing takes instinct and atleticism...The LB's we have had minus Demeco have lacked in both IMHO...Our LB's haven't been overly quick, fast, or instinctive...

Most teams that blitz a lot/often have more than one LB capable of doing so...

IMHO, if we just had one more "play making" LB, our defense would look a hell of a lot better...

I know folks like Greenwood, but IMHO, he's nothing...He's steady and he can make tackles when the ball carrier is in his area, but he's not what I'd consider to be a "play maker"...Our SLB's have really been nothing...

Another LB with athleticism and playmaking ability would help out in blitzing, pass coverage and run stopping which would in turn allow us to open up our defense a little more......JMO...

Even if we got another shutdown DB, who are you planning on blitzing that you think can really bring some heat besides Demeco ?

Last edited by Polo; 04-17-2008 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 04-17-2008   #20
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Default Re: Jethro Franklin Interview

I'm hesitant to reply to this because I certainly am not qualified to speak on something as complex as NFL schemes, but I feel like I am seeing something you guys aren't. First and foremost, I think it is a terrible oversimplification to want to "classify" your defense's scheme. Just because our defense doesn't have a "name" doesn't mean it lacks philosophy or scheme. And even defenses with names (Tampa 2) are really different variations of each other. Just as every team that runs a WCO runs a different variation of a similiar offense. What I'm trying to say is that NFL scheme is so entirely complex and dynamic that slapping some inane name on it really isn't telling you anything.

With that being said, I do feel like I have seen -- from quotes from the coaches to the type of players acquired -- some semblence of a preference in personnel.

With the line it seems like they want big, athletic guys. Franklin addresses that in this interview by saying they want big guys that can move, and that is reflected in the linemen they field. There is not a big difference in size from our DE to our DT. Our DE are all around 280 lbs with the exception of Kalu (265 lbs) and Mario (291 lbs). Our DT are all 290lbs-300lbs. Our starting linemen are 291 lbs 305 lbs 302 lbs 280 lbs. Big, athletic linemen.

In a safety it seems they want a guy who can hit hard and play the run. Then haven't seem to put much emphasis on a centerfield, ball-hawk type FS. I have said this since we passed up Reggie Nelson and several other opportunities to find a safety with ball skills. That's not to say that they don't want a safety with ball skills, but, from what I have seen, they put more emphasis on a safety who is physical.

In corner, from the quotes this offseason, they want big guys who can press. This is testing the limits of my knowledge because I'm not familiar with the intricacies of playing off the reciever with zone blitzes (apparently what Phillips runs in Dallas) versus playing on the reciever (apparently what we brought Reeves in here to do.) So, what I surmise from this is that we want our corners to have size, speed, and the ability to play on the reciever. Whatever that translates to in scheme is beyond me.

At linebacker I think we just want guys who are smart and make plays. Both Diles and Ryans have been characterized as smart, undersized linebackers, and they have both been drafted by Kubiak and are penciled in as starters for now. Greenwood is a holdover from the Capers era but I don't think you can argue much with his performance. He might not be ideal for what we want to do (or he might be) but I think his performance suffices until we can put someone better in his place.

So, to me, there are consistencies in what we have been doing. They want big (280-300-ish,) athletic guys on the line. They want big, physical guys in the backfield. And they want smart, instinctive guys at LB. Again, maybe I'm wrong, maybe my naivete to the intricacies of NFL scheme have caused me to misunderstand what they're doing personnel wise, but there seems to be a fairly clear pattern to me.

**And, as an interesting aside, Travis Johnson isn't listed on the '08 roster.
http://houstontexans.com/team/roster.asp?sort_by=3

Last edited by nero THE zero; 04-17-2008 at 07:44 PM.
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