Houston Texans: Anthony Weaver’s upcoming reclamation project

Houston Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Anthony Weaver leads the Houston Texans’ defense quest to climb back up the league unit rankings as the 2020 free agency and draft season approaches.

When Anthony Weaver earned a promotion to the Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator role earlier this year, he would have been acutely aware of the challenge awaiting him after a 2019 season in which the Houston Texans ranked near the bottom of the league in most major categories.  Weaver inherits a unit whose lingering memory from last season is of Whitehouse, Texas native Patrick Mahomes and eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs lighting them up for 51 points.

The upside is Weaver’s intimate knowledge of the defensive room puts him in a strong position to steer the group back to respectability having been with the franchise since 2016.  Weaver enjoys a rapidly growing reputation in the NFL given his pedigree as a former league veteran player and the dues he’s already paid as a young coach in both the college ranks and the NFL.

When free agency begins this month and April’s draft approaches, the Houston Texans will no doubt heavily target the defense across the board given how 2019 unfolded.

However, D.J. Reader’s impending free agency could significantly complicate Weaver’s task from the outset.  Confidence is not high the Houston Texans will offer Reader his market value, nor be willing to apply a franchise tag, given the big money destined for Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil.

If Reader signs elsewhere as increasingly appears the case, Weaver will have a cornerstone piece to replace upfront on a defense already needing major upgrades.  Bradley Roby is the other key situation to sort out at cornerback to determine who joins Gareon Conley and Lonnie Johnson.

In 2019, the Houston Texans ranked 29th in pass defense, 25th in rush defense and 28th in total

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defense (yards allowed).  Using more advanced metrics, the Houston Texans ranked 30th in quarterback pressures and allowed scores on 39.3 percent of possessions (21st league rank).

The Houston defense allowed an average depth of passing target of 9.4 yards to underscore the trouble it had affecting the pocket, and the time afforded opposing quarterbacks to allow deeper route development (Miami ranked last in the lead at 10.6).

Remarkably, J.J. Watt led the team in quarterback hits (21) despite playing just eight games.  Whitney Mercilus was second with 16 hits, and Reader logged 13.

While there are young talents to build around like linebacker Zach Cunningham and safety Justin Reid, Weaver will have his choice for the best place to start an attempt at restoring the Houston Texans’ defense to a respectable level once the free agency and draft seasons hit full swing.

Next. Texans should place franchise tag on D.J. Reader. dark

The challenge facing Weaver is immense to resuscitate a unit that ranked near the bottom in every major category; however, the NFL is a league where quick turnarounds are possible given the impact shrewd moves in the off-season can have when combined with the right locker room motivation.  If successful, the Houston Texans will be much better positioned to deal with Mahomes and Weaver will become one of the top coaching prospects in football.