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2009 Draft Pass: Shanahan talks offense


For the first-time ever, is offering fans exclusive access to all of the major figures in the Texans' 2009 NFL Draft process. In Thursday's Draft Pass segment, Texans TV's Brooke Bentley sat down with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to discuss how the offense benefitted from this year's draft.

Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): The 2009 draft was an interesting one for offense. The unit came in without too many holes, considering the Texans ranked third in offense in the NFL last season. You ended up with a center/guard and two tight ends, but no running backs. What are you doing to address the situation at running back?

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan: We are happy with our 11 starters. We went in there really trying to get the best players. We would have liked to have gotten a good running back, but at the times that we picked and with the guys that were available, we didn't think there were guys there better than what we had. So we went with the best players. We got a tight that we needed (Anthony Hill); we needed to get a blocking tight end. And then after the next round came, we got a second tight (James Casey). He was really the best player on the board. There wasn't a dire need for that position, but we weren't going to take a player that we didn't think would make our team.

{QUOTE}Brooke Bentley: How do these three picks with Antoine Caldwell, Anthony Hill and James Casey improve the offense?

Kyle Shanahan: Well, Caldwell really improves us because this is the first time in my coaching career that I have gone through all 16 games where all five O-linemen stayed healthy. The odds of that are very small. If something happens, you have to have a guy who can play all three of those positions. We feel like we got one of the best ones in the draft who can do it.

Brooke Bentley: Alright, I am going to dive into some fan questions. How do you anticipate using James Casey? Could you use him in a "Wildcat" formation?

Kyle Shanahan: What he showed in college is that he can almost do any role. We didn't bring him here for a specific reason. We brought him here because of how much we like him as a football player, and we know with his versatility, he's the type of guy that can get you out of a bind. He could play quarterback, if it came down to it. He could play fullback, tight end, receiver; he even played defensive end at times during his college career. The way we plan going about it – we want to work him at tight end. I think he could be a passing weapon right away in the NFL. I feel like we have one of the best in tight ends Owen Daniels, so in order for him to help us in that aspect, we would probably have to have some injuries. In the meantime, I do think Casey will become a good blocking tight end. He's tough enough; he's not scared of contact. He doesn't mind getting in there and getting dirty. He just hasn't been asked to do it. We do think it will take some time to develop. While he is developing and becoming a complete tight end, we will use him in passing situations and we will also have him working out at fullback.

Brooke Bentley: Along those lines, can you dress four tight ends on game day (with the 45-man active roster)?

Kyle Shanahan: You can if they are doing other stuff. You can't have four tight ends dressing if they are just four tight ends. You can dress as many as you want at any position, but it means that another position is going to have to take that burden. If you are going to dress four tight ends, we will not dress two fullbacks. So if we dress four tight ends, one of those tight ends better be able to play fullback if our No. 1 fullback gets hurt. They also better be able to help us out on special teams, also.

Brooke Bentley: On your draft board, who would be your No. 1 running back?

Kyle Shanahan: I would have taken (Knowshon) Moreno; he was the most solid one. There were a couple of guys that we were looking at that weren't going to go that high, but I thought he was definitely the best back this year. Beanie Wells was very talented; there's just a little more risk with his injury history.

Brooke Bentley: Were you surprised that Wells fell to the bottom of the first round?

Kyle Shanahan: No, I wasn't surprised at all.

Brooke Bentley: This fan writes: "I don't think that the Texans' turnover issues could have been addressed through the draft. So what are you going to do to address that this season?"

Kyle Shanahan: It was something we had a problem with two years ago also. It's a fine line because you don't want to make your team scared to play. You want your quarterbacks being aggressive. You want your running backs running hard. You don't want guys playing not to lose, playing not to turn the ball over. You still want guys to have that aggressive mentality. The thing I think that you do to prevent that is that you run the ball better; you don't feel like you have to throw on third-and-long; you have to be able to run in those situations. You have to be in close games. We can't start off badly and be down 14-0 or 21-0, like we did against Pittsburgh, and now we feel like we have to throw the rest of the game. You throw for three quarters against Pittsburgh, a two-safety defense, you are going to have a lot of turnovers. So you have to be in games and you have to be a balanced offense and not put that pressure on your quarterback and your O-line to hold up and protect that long. Really, it's a team deal. We just look at the guy throwing the ball or the guy who fumbles it, but your mindset changes when you are in a tighter game.

Brooke Bentley: Did your dad give you any advice going into this year's draft?

Kyle Shanahan: No, and I wouldn't have taken any. He's not in a situation where he is watching film every day and studying the college players. All of his information would have been off of articles. We have access to the film and we actually can study it. We try to not take people's advice who are just saying what they hear and what they read. You like to keep your opinion totally your own opinion and evaluate and see what you see on film, so you can keep it pretty real.

Brooke Bentley: You didn't draft a wide receiver or a quarterback. Do you feel comfortable with both situations?

Kyle Shanahan: I feel very comfortable with both. We didn't plan on taking a quarterback; we didn't plan on taking a receiver. That doesn't always go as planned, just like we didn't plan on taking two tight ends, but it worked out that way. I think we have a great group of receivers, the best I've been around. We've got speed guys; we've got quick guys; we've got guys who can play outside and guys who can play inside. We've got physical guys; we've really got every type of player that we want.

At the quarterback position, I am very, very happy with Matt (Schaub). I think he's as good of a quarterback that you could ask for, and if he goes down, I feel very good with (Dan) Orlovsky. The third guy we have is Alex Brink. Personally, I really loved his college tape. The reason we want to bring only three in is because we want to give him (Brink) the reps and let him practice more so that when we do throw him in that fourth preseason game, that he's really prepared for it and we can see how good he can become.

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