Texans to have Lonnie Johnson and Justin Reid focus on creating turnovers

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Lonnie Johnson and Justin Reid had an up and down season for the Houston Texans in 2020.

Both players had an unproductive start to the year until former defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver decided to convert Johnson from corner to safety. The midseason change bought the best out of each other until Reid’s season came to an early end due to a hand injury sustained in a loss against the Chicago Bears.

Nicknamed “The Evil Twins,” Texans’ new safety coach Greg Jackson will keep the duo together in the defensive backfield. But it appears that Jackson will have Johnson and Reid focusing on creating turnovers other than getting after the quarterback next season.

“I think they’re good blitzers, [but] as far as safeties are concerned, that’s not an everyday thing for us,” Jackson said during his media press conference via Zoom on June 8. “We may do it every now and then, but I think those guys are better deep part of the field defenders and I think they’re better cover guys. They do blitz well, but we want to keep those guys on the back end of the field a lot more and have them go get the ball rather than blitzing the quarterback and making sacks.”

One of the benefits the Texans observed in their defense following Johnson’s position change was their pass rush.

The safety tandem improved Houston’s ability to cause disruption in the opposing team’s backfield after Weaver tapped into their potential as blitzing safeties. The new defensive scheme resulted in Reid recording 2.0 sacks in the three games he played alongside Johnson at safety — the first sacks of his career.

Jackson’s intentions for Johnson and Reid echos Lovie Smith’s defensive strategy for the Texans next season. As the Texans’ new defensive coordinator, Smith said there will be a daily emphasis on creating turnovers in 2021.

Last season, the Texans had arguably their worst defensive team in franchise history, and their inability to take the ball away played a significant role in Houston’s appalling defense. The Texans ended the 2020 season with a league-low nine total turnovers (six fumbles and three interceptions) — none of which created by Johnson or Reid.