Texans DE Jonathan Greenard says stopping the run ‘is a want-to thing’

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The Houston Texans were the worst team in the NFL at stopping the run a year ago.

Teams busted the Texans for 5.2 yards per carry in 2020, the highest in the NFL. It was just one component of the Texans’ 4-12 record, but it may have been the one statistic tied to effort.

“Stopping the run, first of all, is a want-to thing,” Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard told reporters on a Zoom call on June 10. “If you don’t have the want or the will to stop the run, you can’t do anything else in the game of football. Playing defense is going to get you the rewards for everything, so stopping the run is the main emphasis that we’re putting on now.”

The Texans have gone from a 3-4 defense, which they played since 2011, to a Tampa 2 scheme with a 4-3 front under new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith. Although the emphasis to stop the run is universal among every defense, Smith’s scheme provides for a new way to approach the endeavor.

Said Greenard: “Shooting your hands, making sure your eyes are in the right place, hands in the right place, you’re in the right gap and finishing on the ball. A lot of times last year you saw we had a lot of plays we just didn’t finish, a lot of games we didn’t finish. We take that as a chip on our shoulder.”

The former 2020 third-round pick from Florida collected 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.

Greenard isn’t burying the bad memories of failing to stop the run, and neither are his teammates who remained after general manager Nick Caserio’s 90-plus roster moves throughout the offseason.

“Don’t think that we kind of just put it on the backburner because we definitely do remember that,” said Greenard. “We definitely use that as fuel because that’s one thing he’s teaching us as soon as he got in there, is turn the ball over, get after the quarterback and make these guys feel you.

“I think that’s one thing we’ve got to bring back here is to make people feel us and not adjust to them. They got to adjust to us.”