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After the season-of-horrors in the defensive secondary ended in 2010, the Texans made one of the key decisions in franchise history: hiring Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. One of the more under-the-radar moves over that offseason was shifting cornerback Glover Quin to the safety position.
Sunday, Quin played one of his better games as a pro. He racked up 6 tackles and 1 huge shoulder-rattling sack of Titans QB Jake Locker, knocking the 2nd-year QB out of the game. For his efforts, Quin was the team’s defensive player of the game. Considering two of his other backfield mates had interception returns for touchdowns (Danieal Manning and Kareem Jackson), that’s quite a statement for how well the coaching staff thinks Quin played.
Phillips doesn’t really use the “free safety” or “strong safety” designations with his safeties. He needs both spots to be occupied by athletic players who can cover large areas of the field. That’s why Wade would never have put Eugene Wilson and Bernard Pollard together as a safety combination. In this defense, Manning and Quin are relied on to help the CBs, cover TEs, and help stop the run.
I think that fans believe the transition from cornerback to safety is a little easier than it may be in reality. The angle of how you play completely changes, and communication becomes a huge component. You have to able to play physically and support the run in the box. That is the biggest surprise, to me, in Quin’s transition.
He’s been able to support the run and play almost a hybrid-linebacker position at times. Phillips likes to rush two linebackers (Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin) with Brian Cushing as the only other linebacker on the field. In nickel and dime packages, Quin is one of the absolute key lines of defense in stopping draws and screens, and I believe he has excelled in those areas.
With third safety Quintin Demps out indefinitely with a broken forearm, the pressure remains on Quin and Manning to be the backbone of the defense. After the Texans take on the Jets next week, the Packers and Ravens are going to pose very stiff tests for the pass defense.