March 21, 2018

Has Anybody Noticed Antonio?

We are only one game into the season, but the Houston Texans are proving that hiring Wade Phillips might be their best offseason acquisition in team history. Many Texans defense players are blossoming in the new scheme Phillips has brought to Houston, but Antonio Smith seems to enjoy his familiar role that he had previously with the Arizona Cardinals. 

Antonio Smith came to the Texans during the 2009 season to be the “other” bookend opposite Mario Williams. Smith started his career by being drafted in 2004 (5th round) by the Cardinals and was apart of their Super Bowl team in 2008. Since his time with the Texans he has been second on the team in 2009 and 2010 in sacks, and proved he can get to the quarterback at a consistent basis.

If you haven’t noticed but Smith has been a playing with a reckless abandon, also proving he can play on the inside with the big boys. If you take all the games he has played including preseason he has played in three games and has three sacks and two forced fumbles. I know preseason doesn’t count, but Smith has been showing flashes of an All-Pro in the making in the Texans new scheme.

Known for being a free-lance artist and making unnecessary penalties, Smith has earned a bad reputation for his play here in Houston. It seems like Smith, who was elected defensive captain, has made an effort to clean up his play and be a real leader. In camp, Smith was first in every drill the defensive line ran and competed against J.J Watt in majority of the drills. Smith and Watt give the Texans some solid players at the defensive end position for opposing offenses to worry about. It seemed during camp that Watt and Smith have taken to each other, and pushed each other, which is translating to results on the field for the Texans.

Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, he had a huge sack to set the tone for the defense which caused a turnover. He may not get many tackles, but he constantly pushed the pocket and causes problems with his quickness and strength. At 6’4″ and 275 lbs. Smith doesn’t fit the prototypical 5 technique in the 3-4 defense, but he has been making plays when they count. He has to be careful not to get latched up with the offensive lineman because they can move him at ease with a double team, but he is doing a great job of getting off of blocks and causing lanes for other Texans to make tackles.

Smith has come a long way from his playing days at Oklahoma State, and in NFL Europe with the Hamburg Sea Devils (2005), he has found a home here in Houston and is making his mark in his new but familiar position at defensive end.  Look for Smith to build on his early success and make the defense a better unit that ever before.


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