Jared Crick: A Force Awakens

In physics, Isaac Newton's third law of motion states, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Jared Crick knows firsthand about Newton's opposing forces. He'll be a starter next to J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork, two All-Pros who often have the freedom to move around on the defensive line. Crick not only knows his role in the scheme, but he's also responsible for covering for his fellow linemen when needed.

"We put J.J. on the outside most of the time, especially in pass rush situations to do what he does," Crick said in an August interview with Texans Radio. "If I'm on his side, I'm knowing that he's going to make a certain move, I'm going to counter off of it, and do whatever I have to do to clean it up. If he doesn't make the play, then I have to make the play."

And vice versa.

Crick's ability to be a consistent playmaker has afforded him the freedom to do the same.

"If I want to take initiative and do something, Vince has told me a million times that he has my back; J.J. always has my back," Crick said.

It wasn't always this way for Crick. The three-year starter at Nebraska found himself behind Pro Bowler Antonio Smith when he arrived in Houston. Crick didn't get discouraged. He prepared like a starter and just hoped his hard work would get him noticed.

"Whenever I got in the game, I just tried to make the most of it," Crick said. "I thought I did a pretty good job of that. When Antonio left, the position was up for grabs. I was looking up to get the job. I just tried to go from there. I did that throughout my career. In high school, whenever I won the starting job, I ran with it. College, whenever I won the starting job, I ran with it. I felt that it would be no different here. I just predicated on my work ethic. With my attention and knowledge of the game, I figured I just needed that opportunity, and I would do well with it."

He did.

In 2014, his third NFL season, Crick was named the Texans starting defensive end opposite Watt. He set career highs with 56 tackles, 3.5 sacks, six passes defensed, 11 quarterback hits, and six tackles for loss. Crick quietly became a force to be reckoned with, working seamlessly with Watt.

"I think he's a very smart player," head coach Bill O'Brien said on August 2 after practice. "Not enough is said about Jared Crick. He's kind of an unsung hero. He had a really good year last year. He's a very tough, very tough guy. He's out here every day, never takes a day off. He's gotten better within our scheme. I think when we came in, it was a little bit different then what he had been playing before. I thought he went out there last year and last spring and really did a good job. He's picking up where he left off."

Crick was a starter, but he had to learn a new scheme under defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Not only did he prove himself again, he even earned more playing time on third downs as the season progressed. Crick, who referred to himself as "the cleanup guy" in the first half of the season, finally had a chance to do more towards the latter part of 2014.

"That was my first chance to get to really pass rush," Crick said. "To have him (Crennel) have the trust in me with so few third down reps was huge."

In a defense with Watt, Wilfork, Brian Cushing, Whitney Mercilus, and many other key playmakers, O'Brien considers Crick to be among his top pass rushers in 2015. The head coach was pleased with Crick's role on the inside in certain pass rush situations last year. Crick wants to build on what he started and take his skills to the next level this year.

"I think last year, I did a pretty good job for a first-year starter," Crick said. "This year, I'm expecting bigger things from myself, and I hope everybody is. I think it's going to be a good year, and I'm excited for it."

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