Texans secondary a big part of dangerous defense


Texans secondary a big part of dangerous defense

There is more to defense than J.J. Watt. 
That's the message New England's coaches and coordinators have been stressing since the Patriots-Texans Divisional Playoff was set, anyway. 
Houston's regular season passing defense was average in total yards surrendered (3612) but allowed the league's lowest completion percentage at 53.0. The Texans 44 sacks was tied as fifth-best in the NFL. 
Yes, Watt had 20.5 of those sacks, but the entire defense does not rest on his shoulders alone. 
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Monday that Houston's secondary also causes plenty of problems. Texans defensive backs play man coverage, they pressure, they play single coverage during blitzes, they play in the slot. 
"I think cornerback Jonathan Joseph has done a good job of matching up on some specific receivers during the course of the season," McDaniels noted. "He's really a talented guy and worthy of all of the accolades he's received. He's done a great job of really competing well and some of those games when he's been matched on some really top-notch receivers. 
"The safeties, they're asked to play a lot of different roles, too. Danieal Manning plays down near the front in some of their man coverages and is asked to cover some of the tight ends. I think he's really competitive in those situations. He does a great job of getting the ball off of people and stripping the ball away, and has a history of that over his career. Glover Quinn plays safety and has played down in the front and blitzed and been a disruptive guy in their dime package."
The point is, though the Patriots have a healthy respect for Watt's disruptiveness, they will prepare for the big picture. Houston has a solid secondary that complements a formative front, and to McDaniels, that's about as dangerous as a defense can get. 
"There's a lot of talented players back there," McDaniels said. "They have to hold up sometimes when they pressure, and then other times they do a good job of really shutting things down on the backend and giving the front an opportunity to get to the passer. And I think all of them will come up in run support. It's a really good defense and there's no question the secondary plays a big role in that."

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”