Lovie Smith plans to keep running the Texans' defense

Lovie Smith didn't hesitate, answering the question akin to how comfortably he lines up his chess pieces on the football field.

Yes, the Texans' new head coach and former defensive coordinator and associate head coach will continue to run the defense personally.

That is the forte of the former NFL Coach of the Year and Super Bowl runner-up with the Chicago Bears.

And Smith will keep running his trademark 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme that emphasizes takeaways.

Although the Texans finished 31st in total defense and 27 in scoring defense, allowing 26.6 points per game, they finished 10th in the NFL with 26 takeaways and intercepted 3.1 percent of opponents' passing attempts to rank fifth in the NFL.

Smith will have assistance from his son, linebackers coach Miles Smith, and other defensive assistants, including cornerbacks coach Dino Vasso, who's among the coaches being retained, but he will run the show on a defense headlined by defensive end Jon Greenard, who led the defense with a career-high eight sacks.

"That’s an easy one," Smith said. "You know, this past year I had so much fun. Of course, I’ve been a head coach a while. A lot of those years I was heavily involved with the defense. I’m at the purity of the sport I love coaching. It’s getting my hands on.

"I loved calling plays last year. I will be calling the defenses this year. Just look around right now, most of the offensive head coaches that are offensive guys, they call the plays. For some reason, a lot of the defensive guys don’t. I think I can help our program the most right now with me in that same role. So, I will be doing that.”

Smith has 20 total seasons of NFL coaching experience, including 11as a head coach. Additionally, he owns 21 years of experience at the high school and collegiate levels.

When the Texans named Lovie Smith the fifth head coach in franchise history, it was met with approval by several players.

That included veteran safety Justin Reid, a pending unrestricted free agent

"I like him, I know the locker room likes him," Reid said. "Lovie has the respect of everybody because of how personable he is. Anybody can talk to him in his office, and he'll listen to what they have to say, which I really respect."

Other top free agents include linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, defensive tackle Maliek Collins and cornerback Desmond King.

"He's extremely qualified for the job, a great guy overall," Reid said. "Very knowledgeable. He brings out the best in all of his players and emphasizes the details, getting turnovers. On the team sphere, everybody takes their job seriously and plays their best ball."

Smith owns an 89-87 record and reached the Super Bowl twice, losing both. His first shot came as the defensive coordinator of the Rams in 2001. He returned to the big game in 2006 as the head coach of the Bears. The associate head coach replaces David Culley, who Houston fired after a 4-13 season.

"Hopefully, Lovie can get to 100 wins soon," said Reid, whose four-year, $2.443 million rookie contract is expiring after recording seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and two sacks in four NFL seasons.

A former third-round draft pick from Stanford, Reid generated two interceptions and one forced fumble last season playing for Smith. Smith, 63, sports a long white beard and reminds Reid of Texans senior personnel advisor, former interim coach, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

"Absolutely, just a strong sense of respect," Reid said. "It's a little bit of what RAC (Romeo Anthony Crennel) has, maybe without as many years. He's done it for a long time. He's been a part of everything and done it at a high level. He doesn't play favorites. Everybody is treated exactly the same. That's the type of dude he is. Everybody wants to play hard for him and make him proud."

Greenard was a bright spot in his second NFL season. Greenard echoed Reid's sentiments about Smith, saying, "You won't have to worry about playing with passion and emotion on the team, that's for sure. I'm excited about the hire, but I also know we got a lot of work to do. So, I'm ready to turn this thing around."

Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and analyst. He is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts

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