Three takeaways per game is the new standard for the Texans defense. Houston hit that mark for the third straight Saturday night this August but still came up short against the Buccaneers in a 23-16 defeat.
Nevertheless, the Texans defense concluded the preseason slate with 10 takeaways in three games. In 2020, the Texans were able to muster just nine the entire regular season. Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith has harped on the need for takeaways by the Texans defense. According to Defensive Back Justin Reid, the success this preseason needs to be sustainable from September onward.
"You can just see what coach Lovie Smith is preaching in the meetings about getting to the ball, being aggressive, finding ways to get to the ball," Reid said. "Everything is about 'the ball', and it's coming out on the tape. So we've got to take that with us into the regular season and continue to force turnovers to help our team win games."
Defensive Back Terrence Brooks picked off a Blaine Gabbert pass midway through the second quarter, giving the Texans offense the ball at their own 38-yard line.
In the third quarter, Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill pounced on a Kyle Trask fumble at the Buccaneers' 11-yard line. On the very next play, Davis Mills connected with receiver Nico Collins for a touchdown.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Damarcus Walker's strip-sack of Trask was recovered by Vincent Taylor at the Tampa Bay 39-yard line. Five plays later, the Texans were in the end zone courtesy of a Mills-to-Jordan Veazy 9-yard strike.
The Texans have maintained they want to come away with the ball at least three times per game and the defensive staff has a goal of seeing at least 20 strip attempts per contest. Brooks explained how the high standards set by Smith were met in the preseason games.
"I feel like some guys get so caught up in the game that they forget that it's all about the ball," Brooks said. "That's just something he's been honing in ever since we got here, Day 1. You've got a lot of guys out there who are just hungry and just love to play the game and they're going out there trying to take the ball away."
Linebacker Christian Kirksey explained how the Texans defensive mindset has shifted.
"You speak it into existence," Kirksey said. "That's something that Lovie has been preaching to us since Day 1: go after the ball. Our number one goal on defense is to score and in order to score you've got to take the ball away."
Kirksey and the Texans will open their 2021 regular season at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, September 12. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. CDT on CBS and SportsRadio 610. For tickets, click here.