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DE Jonathan Greenard predicts Texans play ‘more free and more comfortable’ in 2021

·2 min read

The Houston Texans were abysmal last year with just nine takeaways procured through 16 games. Furthermore, the team finished dead last in rushing yards per carry surrendered at 5.2. Their 4-12 finish wasn’t surprising given the statistical ingredients that went into the casserole of failure.

However, second-year defensive end Jonathan Greenard believes the defense will rebound in 2021 due to the veteran-heavy environment the Texans have cultivated under first-year general manager Nick Caserio, who was formerly the director of player personnel with the New England Patriots from 2008-20.

“We’re all learning from the guys,” Greenard told reporters on a Zoom call on June 9. “They don’t have that mentality of just I’m a vet and this is how one way is going to go. They kind of let you be yourself and fine tune it on the way as we’re going.

“I think that’s the environment all around here now. I think that’s what makes everybody — you’re going to see a difference in us just overall just playing more free and more comfortable.”

One of the moves the Texans made at the coaching level to improve the defense was hire Lovie Smith as defensive coordinator. Greenard says he has tremendous respect for a man whose coaching career he followed throughout his childhood.

“Lovie’s a legendary coach,” Greenard said. “I mean, I’ve been watching him since I was a younger kid. Much respect for him. A lot of respect for him around the game of football.”

Greenard is optimistic about the Texans’ new Tampa 2 scheme with a 4-3 base, which has moved him from a standup outside linebacker to an edge defender coming off a three-point stance. Throw in key veterans such as free agent defensive tackle Maliek Collins and defensive end Shaq Lawson, who have experience in the scheme, being a part of the defense, and gives Greenard reason for optimism.

“We’ve got some guys who have been in the league for a while with Maliek, Shaq, other guys,” said Greenard. “We’ve still got guys here like [defensive tackle] Brandon Dunn and some of the young guys, as well.”

Greenard finished his rookie season with 19 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, 1.0 sack, and a pass breakup through 13 games, one of which he started.