Wade Phillips will tell you Brian Cushing is better than people think. He'll tell you he made all the Texans' third-down calls last season and that whether you realized it or not, he was basically the leader of the defense.
"We coached the Pro Bowl," said the Texans' defensive coordinator. "We didn't have any inside backers that were better than him in my opinion. This guy's a bigtime player. Anybody that sees him on film knows that."
And yet most people don't see Cushing on film, at least not the way a coach does. There probably was not a universally held perception of Cushing last season, but if there was it probably went something like this: A bit of a wild man who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs after the 2009 season and regressed the following year.
Cushing was the all-world talent, you may have thought, but DeMeco Ryans was the Texans' defensive leader.
While that might have been true in 2009 or 2010, by last season Cushing had overtaken Ryans on the fi...