4 takeaways from the Houston Texans’ introductory presser with DC Matt Burke
The Houston Texans new coach and their new defensive coordinator have never worked together. Though that sounds concerning, those who knew both men well believe it will work.
However, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh knew that DeMeco Ryans and Matt Burke both had similar philosophies when it came to defense. They would make a great match.
Burke held the role of “game management coach” with the Jets in 2021, which allowed him to bridge analytics and game management decisions — and also make a good impression with Saleh, who worked with Ryans at the San Francisco 49ers from 2017-20.
Here are four takeaways from the Texans’ introductory press conference with Burke.
1. His vision for defense matches Ryans'
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
In addition to working with the Jets and Saleh, Burke’s background is working with former Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz, which also believes in aggressive four-man fronts.
“We want to be aggressive and have an attack front,” Burke said. “I have a history with what DeMeco did with that front obviously in San Fran. So, at the end of the day, my job is to help him execute his vision for what he wants. So, when I think of the traction coming here, there are already some pieces on defense that we like and are looking forward to working with.”
2. Controlling the line of scrimmage is paramount
Jenna Watson/IndyStar-USA TODAY NETWORK
The Texans have gone with a “coach ’em up” approach to defensive line that has not featured any prominent players since the departure of J.J. Watt. Perhaps it was due to design or a series of roster inadequacies, but that may end with Burke.
“If you don’t have that D-line, then you have to start adding pieces to the rush, to the pressure part,” said Burke. “Now, you’re taking away from the coverage. So, yeah, again, I’m biased because that’s been my world for a long time, but, yeah, I think, again, this defense and this scheme starts up front. And the more you can rush the passer with four and attack those guys and get after it, then that takes pressure off the backend in some of those coverage elements that you’re talking about.”
3. Projection is evaluation
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
With the defensive scheme Ryans seeks to deploy in Houston, there isn’t much film of players actually playing in it. Therefore, the Texans are having to take a projection approach to evaluating players rather than looking at previous games.
“I would say in general the biggest thing for us is there’s not a lot of teams that play the style we’re going to ask these guys to play,” Burke said. “So, it’s going to be a projection for us. Our task is to really dig into these guys, whether it’s draft or free agency, and really project, okay, putting them into the schemes and techniques that we’re asking these guys to play, can have success doing that. So, that’s really sort of what we’re undergoing right now. As you sort of watch our scheme stuff, we’re doing half scheme, half free agent-draft stuff right now. I think that’s the biggest task is we talk scheme, okay, these are the things we’re going to ask these guys to do, not just up front. What are we asking our linebackers to do, what are we asking our corners to do, what are we asking our ends to do? And then finding guys that can do those tasks and do them at a high level.”
4. Burke's first Zoom interview with Ryans was interrupted
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
When Burke was scheduled to have his first Zoom interview with Ryans about the defensive coordinator role, Burke’s seven-year-old son had other plans.
“We scheduled at, like, 7:00 o’clock and my son actually fell and cracked his eye open,” Burke recalled. “I had to take him to the hospital to get stitches. So, I’m like — it’s like my first job interview and I’m texting DeMeco, ‘Can we push this back a little bit? I’m sorry.’ So, I had, like, this panicked Zoom interview with him. I was two hours late to my interview type of thing. So, I think, like I said, once we got talking it was just literally everything lined up in terms of how we see the game, how we want to coach, how we want to play football, how we want to play defense. I just feel like everything everybody has been telling me about him and visa versa has been connected and meshed.”
Burke’s son received four stitches and an interesting story to share, according to Burke.