This is our first article from our newest blogger, D. Roque, who will be a contributing here on State of the Texans.
Nose Tackle vs Defensive Tackle
Do the Houston Texans need a big nose tackle to continue to have success in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 system? This question sparks an ongoing debate between the Houston Texans coaching staff and the Texans fans. We as Texans fans have been salivating at the mouth for a big mammoth nose tackle such as a Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots or a Terrance Cody of the Baltimore Ravens. Nose tackles are classified as defensive linemen that usually weigh in the range of 320 lbs to in excess of 350 lbs. These players are behemoths and two gap control players (usually the A gap on both sides of the center). Defensive tackles are players that defensive linemen that are in the range of 295 lbs to 315 lbs. The prototypical defensive tackles would be guys like Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions or Jay Ratliff of the Dallas Cowgirls… (excuse me Cowboys). The Texans use defensive tackles, but unfortunately aren’t at the level of the two we mentioned prior. Let’s have a look at both positions.
The nose tackle is a huge mountainous player and they play the 0 technique which is head up on the center. By playing this technique it almost assures that he will encounter the center and either the left or the right guard and this plugs up running lanes up the middle. The primary role of the nose tackle is to take up two blockers and control the A gaps and push the pocket. When this happens it allows the linebackers to run free and make plays on the edges or in the backfield. The pros of the nose tackle are that they are space eaters, and as I mentioned before control two gaps. Secondly, they command a double team all the time. Thirdly, nose tackles are good at pushing the pocket up the middle enough to flush the QB out of the pocket for the edge rushers. The cons for the nose tackle are that they are only on the field part-time. Nose tackles are on the field for first and second downs and they come off the field for third down. Secondly, nose tackles aren’t the most explosive, or laterally agile this is what makes the zone blocking scheme so effective over the course of the game. Lastly, nose tackles fatigue quickly when constantly moving and chasing down players sideline to sideline. It’s easy to see why Texans fans love big nose tackles, but they are limited in some ways and are not necessarily a must have in the 3-4 scheme Wade Phillips employs.
The defensive tackle is normally smaller and plays the 3 technique which is on the outer shoulder of the guard and is set up to create a one on one matchup with the guard. This also makes it easy to disrupt plays in the backfield when the matchup versus the guard is won. Defensive tackles are multi-purpose players that primary goal is to rush the passer and on the way stop the run. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of defensive tackles. First, defensive tackles are explosive laterally agile, and more athletic than nose tackles. The defensive tackle is not limited to holding down two gaps they usually pick a gap and shoot threw it. Defensive tackles play all 3 downs and fourth down (if needed), and don’t fatigue quickly. Now the cons for defensive tackles are that they aren’t space eaters they usually control one gap at a time. In power offensive plays they can get washed out at the point of attack. Lastly, the defensive tackle will have a hard time disrupting the backfield if they don’t have great quickness, and violent hands. Defensive tackles are usually used in 4-3 schemes, but they attributes they have are what Wade Phillips likes in his scheme.
When you have players like Vince Wilfork and Terrance Cody commanding double teams, plugging up rushing lanes, and pressing the pocket back into the QB it’s easy to see why Texans fans are clamoring for players like these. Looking at Wade’s scheme and with his nose tackles rushing the passer and at the same time making plays against the run game it speaks volumes as to why he uses defensive tackles oppose to your traditional nose tackle. Just place a player like Ndamukong Suh in the middle of Wade Phillips’ scheme as he does it all. He rushes the passer well; he stuffs the run and has the power to push the pocket all while being less than 310 lbs. In my opinion both types of tackles would be great to have for the scheme the Texans use, but after looking at it closer I now trust what Wade says and I believe that the defensive tackle is the best type of tackle for this type of 3-4 scheme. Bar none.
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