How Anthony Weaver Can Change the Texans Defense Pt.2

New Texans DC Anthony Weaver is bringing a level of excitement to the defense, and I've been trying to find out what he can change schematically. In part 1 of this series, I looked at what Weaver could take from mentor Rex Ryan. I focused on the strengths of the 4-3 Under, and 46 Bear defense, and looked at how it fit the Texans personnel. If you haven't checked out part 1, here is the link:

In part 2 I dive into the exotic blitz packages that Rex Ryan installed, and see how Weaver can use those same blitzes but with the Texans. Last week I wrote an article about the Texans 3rd down and long defense, and how it was MUCH better when we rushed more than 4 defenders (shocker). If Weaver can successfully employ some of these blitz packages, our defense will be much better as a result.


Nickel Blitz

Ryan loved to blitz defensive backs, particularly using the nickel blitz as a dangerous weapon. We've seen how it can hurt Deshaun Watson, and it's always been something I've wanted more of. We saw how Bradley Roby could be a great blitzer, I also have faith in John Reid and Vernon Hargreaves to do well in these blitzing situations due to their athleticism.

This first nickel blitz comes from the 2012 Jets, when Rex Ryan was head coach, and Anthony Weaver was first hired as an assistant defensive line coach. It only sends 4 defenders, but does a great job to scheme an open rusher, and still have 7 in coverage. It involves having 3 safeties, which for us could be Justin Reid, Eric Murray, and Michael Thomas. Also 3 CBs, which could be Gareon Conley and Lonnie Johnson the outside, and Bradley Roby in the slot. Then two LBs on the line of scrimmage can be Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole. Finally, the down linemen can be JJ Watt, Ross Blacklock, and Whitney Mercilus.


Now that we know who could line up where, let's look at how they scheme open this blitzing defender. The Jets put 5 defenders on the line of scrimmage, to confuse the QB. With two LBs to the left of the offensive formation, the QB would likely shift the protection left, to pickup any incoming blitz. But the blitz isn't coming from either of those LBs, who actually drop back in coverage. But instead it's coming from the nickel defender to the right. This creates a clear lane to the outside of the right tackle for the nickel CB to run through. The QB tries to get away but the CB is just too fast. SACK!

I really like this nickel blitz design, as it crowds the A gap and sends 5 defenders. You can see how the Texans versatility and depth can allow us to run these blitz packages with different personnel. The deep safeties should be Justin Reid and Thomas. Conley should always be an outside CB, then this time we can try John Reid blitzing from the slot, and Roby on the outside (if Lonnie isn't playing well). Then Cole and Greenard should be the guys on the LOS that drop off in coverage as they are our best coverage LBs. Then we rush Mercilus, Omenihu, B Mack and Watt, with John Reid coming on the blitz.


I really like crowding the LOS as much as possible, as it makes the QB's picture of the defense more cloudy. Having as much misdirection as possible is great. It's also designed well with Omenihu and B Mack running a double stunt for Mercilus to get open. The OL picks it up nicely, but it gets them so focused on the stunt, that they don't even realize the blitzing nickel CB. Throwing these many changeups for the offensive line to handle will only make this blitz more successful. SACK!

This next blitz depends a lot on how the top edge defender (Watt in this case) rushes. It only sends 4 defenders again, dropping 7 in coverage, but if ran correctly, will generate nice pressure.


On this play you can see how wide (Watt) rushes. He brings the RT way outside and this opens up a gap between the RG and the RT. The nickel defender blitzes through and is too fast for the RG to block. He doesn't get the sack, but clearly forces the QB out of the pocket. Another nice key part of this blitz is the bottom edge defender (Greenard) chips two WRs when they are coming out of their releases. This slows them down and messes up their timing with the QB. If we can slow them down, and speed up the QB, it's gonna cause destruction.

One last nickel blitz here where the Jets send 5 defenders. I like this one because it gets a LB blitzing up the middle, rather than being in coverage. That blitzing LB should be B Mack, as he's shown he's an elite blitzer. As you've seen, these nickel blitzes will heavily depend on Dylan Cole and Jonathan Greenard holding their own in coverage. If they can do so, and buy enough time for the blitz to get home, we'll be golden.


The nickel defender get's blocked on this play, but he and the blitzing LB force the QB to step up in the pocket, and right into a defender waiting for him. This defender must play disciplined and be ready to contain the QB if he tries to scramble out. Mercilus is perfect for this role in my opinion.

Overload Blitz

These next two blitzes come from the 2017 Bills, when Ryan was head coach and this might be my favorite blitz I saw. He puts 7 DBs on the field, blitzes two of them off the left edge, and 6 defenders in total. I would play four safeties here, J Reid up top, Thomas in the box, and blitz AJ Moore and Eric Murray. That allows us to use our *depth at safety, and put everyone in their positions of strength. I'd have Conley, Roby and John Reid as the CBs in coverage. Then going from the right side of the defense to the left, on the DL, I'd go with Jacob GOAT Martin, Mercilus, Blacklock and Watt. I put Martin at the top there because when he rushes he acts sort of as a spy/contain.


I just love the overload of the DBs to the left side of the defense because you just wouldn't expect them to bring both of those DBs. The OL blocks 6, the same number of defenders blitzing, but they get tricked and leave an open blitzing defender for the SACK!

Same formation and similar blitz here, but this time they only bring 4 on the rush, and drop 7 in coverage. I love the 7 DBs tho, and they still bring those two DBs off the right edge this time.


With this one they drop two LBs in coverage (Cole and Greenard for us) and even drop the DT (Blacklock because most athletic) in coverage too. This one really messes with the QB and giving him all these different blitzes from the same crazy exotic defense is gonna be fun to watch. The blitzing DBs actually trip over each other and don't get to the QB, but the blitzing LB does, and I just can't wait to watch us run this hopefully.

The last blitz I'll show for today is another one from Ryan's Jets days and this one is really great. It messes with the QB's pre snap reads and you can see how it screws up his progressions. At first glance, the defense looks like they are only going to rush 3, as evidenced by the 3 defenders on the LOS.


But then just before the ball is snapped we see two edge defenders come down onto the LOS and get ready to rush. You can also see the nickel CB getting ready to rush too.


So initially the QB is thinking he only has a 3 man rush, and drop 8 in coverage. Meaning he will have time to make his progressions and play somewhat patiently. But the Jets actually send 6 here and get to the QB as soon as he hits the top of his drop. The QB has no chance here and boom SACK.

Concluding Thoughts

We've now seen exactly what Anthony Weaver means when he said the Texans will have an aggressive and exotic defense. I don't know about you but these blitz packages made me really excited. It also helped me realize why we signed/drafted certain players. Having great depth at safety and cornerback is necessary when running these 7 DB blitz packages. Sending guys like Eric Murray on a blitz often might be his best role. Also nickel guys like John Reid and Vernon Hargreaves. Coverage LBs like Jonathan Greenard and Dylan Cole will be paramount as well. The point is, we have the personnel to run this scheme, we've just got to execute. I personally can't wait to see what's coming.