Texas Defense Coordinator Anthony Weaver held his match sheet as he watched from the sidelines and took a disturbing look at Soldier Field.
Though Reid had set out to end the game in a loss to the Bears last Sunday, his season was on its last breath. Reid tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, had surgery, and was placed in an injured reserve.
It was another blow to a beleaguered defense who had already lost top cornerback Bradley Roby to a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug performance-enhancing policy. Center-back Benardrick McKinney for end-of-season shoulder surgery, defender P. . J. . Hall with a torn rib cage, corner Gareon Conley with ankle surgery and line player Brennan Scarlett with a broken forearm.
Brandon Dunn was dragged off the field after a broken pelvis against Chicago and ended his season.
« I love the kid, » said Weaver. “I hate that he was hurt. He is injured early in the game and struggles through the entire game just to help the team. Even when it got out of hand, he was still out there giving everything he had for the team. I love him. I just hope he’ll get well soon.
« It’s always unfortunate when you lose two players who are obviously key to your defense, not just in terms of what they’re doing on the field, but also in terms of their leadership and their intangibles outside of the field Playing field. « . So if you lose two guys like that, it will be a cumulative effort of everyone to step up and try to do more. ”
The 4-9 Texans take the 25th. Place in overall defense and 31st. Place in overall defense and play their first game without Reid against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Although Reid’s season got off to a difficult start, his game improved over the course of the season, ending the game with 83 tackles, six tackles to loss, four quarterback hits, and two sacks.
Adjusting for Reid’s loss is another challenge for a defense that got used to tough breaks and traveled long distances when attacking was a big challenge.
Without Reid in secondary school, Texans will rely heavily on the safety of Eric Murray, Lonnie Johnson Jr. . and a. J. . Moors.
Murray, who signed a three-year $ 20 million deal in the off-season, will play a bigger role.
« I think as a defense we need to communicate, » said Murray. “Communication was a big part of what Justin did and what he brought to the team. Just personally, Justin was a good physical player in the game and a good cover guy. I think that’s what I can do if, as an enforcer, I had to contribute to the physical condition back there and still be able to do my reporting job. ”
Murray, a former fourth-round boss who was sold to the Browns last year, has mostly lined up in the slot this season. He has defended 66 tackles and two sacks and a pass after joining the Texans with expectations of more of a security role.
« It’s kind of a role that I created in Cleveland last year, » said Murray. « I really wasn’t expecting to be playing the slot when I came here. I was expecting to play safety but one reason I was told I was brought here specifically was because of versatility. If that’s what you want me to do, I’ll do it. ”
The line of defense will have a big hole to mend the loss of Dunn, who signed a three-year $ 12 million deal in the off-season. Dunn started each game and did much of the difficult work in the trenches.
« Corey is a veterinarian. He played a lot of football and had a lot of success in that league, ”said Weaver of Liuget, who had a sack against Cleveland. “So I expect him to get more reps and gain weight and play well for us. ”
Rookie Ross Blacklock, a TCU draft pick in the second round, could play more in the defensive line rotation.
« Maybe his number of games will increase, obviously due to Brandon’s injury, but they play very different positions, » said Weaver. “Brandon is an indoor nasal device, a grinder that Ross is more athletic about. Those two injuries don’t necessarily correlate with him playing a ton more snapshots for us. ”
It would be an understatement to describe Weaver’s first year as defensive coordinator as rough. He was given a bad hand but tried to hold the defenses together as best he could and develop younger players.
How would he rate a defense in desperate need of a pass rusher, stronger run stop, and much better coverage in secondary school?
« Phew, that’s a tough question for me, » said Weaver. « Obviously there are holes. The record says so. My assessment would be as follows: I think we are a team that is in transition. I think we have a number of players who care and want to do whatever it takes to make the team win, but we need help.
« It’s not something we don’t have here right now, but we need help defending and attacking just to energize this team and help us win. ”
When Murray joined the Texans, they won two consecutive AFC South titles. He was expecting to play for a playoff contender, not an underdog that mathematically eliminated post-season competition after three weeks into the season.
« It’s been ups and downs, but this is a season, » said Murray. « With all the things that are going on and things like that, you just have to weather the storm and keep working on it. You can’t really go down as a player and not do your job. It’s just an ongoing effort to get better and get better. ”
Aaron Wilson is a Texas beatwriter for the Houston Chronicle who joined the newspaper in August 2015. He was a beatwriter for Baltimore Ravens from 2001 to 2015 and worked for The Baltimore Sun, including coverage of Super Bowl XLVII, the domestic violence case for Ray Rice, and the careers of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Jonathan Ogden. He previously worked for the team at the Carroll County Times and the capital city of Annapolis.
This is the second time Washington, D. . C.. . native has covered the AFC South, previously the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, NFL, Las Vegas Raiders
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