Justin Houston is a pass-rusher by nature.
That’s what he was when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him in the third round out of Georgia in 2011 and that’s what he's considered by the football-watching public, especially coming off a three-sack performance at New Orleans in Week 3.
Still, what makes Houston truly valuable to his team is that he is becoming a complete player. Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel told reporters Wednesday that Houston figured out about halfway through his rookie season that he has to do more than just harass the quarterback.
“Coming into our system as a linebacker he has to drop in coverage more, he has to read routes, make adjustments and all of those things,” Crennel said. "They run together a little bit as a rookie starting off, and then about halfway through the season I think he began to get comfortable with his assignments and what we were asking him to do … We have enough confidence that he understands that he has to cover a [Darren] Sproles that I can take good leverage and understand the guy has speed and quickness and try to use my help if I have help. I think he understands that a lot better this year than he did last year.”
While Crennel commends Houston for dropping back in coverage while the quarterback drops back to pass, the coach knows what Houston really wants to do.
“He would like to be a pass-rusher just like they all do, but he understands that in our system we ask him to do more,” Crennel said. “When he does more he helps the team. I think that’s what he is concerned about, helping this team win.”
The more Houston can become a complete player, the more it'll help the Chiefs win.