The Texans' defense finished the 2009 season strongly, playing like one of the NFL's top groups in the final three months of the season. SS Bernard Pollard, one of the catalysts of the defense's impressive turnaround, knows that keeping the momentum going is a must.
"We've got to let it roll into the 2010 season," Pollard told PFW on Thursday.
The Texans' defense, which floundered in the first month of the season, was more sound with Pollard in the lineup. In Pollard's 13 starts after joining the club in September, the Texans' defense surrendered just 299.1 yards per game, fourth-best in the NFL. Moreover, it allowed just 84.3 yards per game on the ground in that span, second in the league. The team had ranked last in the NFL in both categories over the first three weeks.
Pollard, 25, was a two-year starter with the Chiefs, but he was released as Kansas City cut its roster to 53 players last September. The experience helped him grow professionally and personally, Pollard said.
"Being cut opened my eyes," he said. "I had to re-evaluate so many other things."
In Houston, he joined a defense that used some of the same terminology the Chiefs used earlier in his career. He was reunited with DB coach David Gibbs, who coached him for his first three seasons in Kansas City. Quickly, Pollard became a key part of the secondary, which had lacked stability at strong safety. He set career highs in tackles (102) and interceptions (four). What's more, he brought a strong leadership presence to the secondary, with defensive coordinator Frank Bush calling him the "quarterback of the back end."
However, for as well as the defense played in the final three months of the season, it still fell short in some key situations. Pollard lamented a pair of close losses to the Colts, games in which Houston held fourth-quarter leads both times. "We have to know and understand we're going to play 60 minutes," he said.
Pollard said the Texans are starting to gain more respect.
"So many teams don't respect us," he said. "Our biggest thing is, you will respect us after you play us."
The Texans also have designs on doing something they have never done before, Pollard said.
"We expect to go to the playoffs," he said.
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