For Texans CBs, out with backpedal, in with shuffle

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

It’s a subtle change, and I am not sure how much of a bearing it will have on the Texans’ pass defense this season.

But when Dunta Robinson, Fred Bennett, Glover Quin and whoever else lines up at cornerback for the Texans start to track Jets receivers Sunday, take note of how they move. You won’t see them backpedaling.

New defensive backs coach David Gibbs has altered the style of his group. Watch them shuffle three times instead of employing a backpedal.

“We don’t backpedal here at all,” said Quin, a rookie in line to work as the nickelback. “You shuffle, shuffle, run. We didn’t do that in college, it was three steps backpedal, then break. This technique we’re using now I think is a lot easier, I think it gives you a better opportunity to make plays. You’ve got your hips open, you can run or break.

“Champ Bailey uses it a lot and Coach Gibbs coached Champ in Denver. That’s where the technique came from, and Champ let it be known that it can be played and it’s skyrocketed from there. It’s more natural. It’s pretty simple. If you do everything right it can be the best technique. It’s like a backpedal except you’re already open. You’re really doing the same thing but you’re ready to run. You slow your shuffle down, you can break either way.”

That’s how it works if a corner is off. If he’s pressing, he simply jams the receiver, then runs with him, Glover said.

I had a chance to talk with defensive coordinator Frank Bush about the approach as well.

He emphasized it’s not an all-the-time thing. So either Glover overstated or Bush understated.

Bush said the shuffle technique isn’t used a whole lot elsewhere.

“It’s a big change, because most guys teach backpedal, most college players are backpedallers and that’s kind of the way it works around the league,” Bush said. “Coach Gibbs has a little system that he likes that gives a guy a chance to have his eyes on the football. There is some good and bad involved in that so you really have to hone in on the technique.

“It’s rare. It’s starting to be hit or miss throughout the league. We still backpedal, but in certain techniques we’d rather have them shuffle out so they can see the quarterback in some of our different coverages. Teams do it, but it’s rare. More people are still just traditional backpedal-type people.”

Take a look Sunday and see how often a Texans corner shuffles versus how often he backpedals. See any difference in how they break or run? In their success breaking up a pass? Perhaps it’s something we can revisit.