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Lovie Smith: I think our defensive system is better suited for the NFL

Mike Florio and Chris Simms open up their mailbag to talk about expectations for Jalen Hurts, the latest on Deshaun Watson and whether the Cowboys can resist passing on Kyle Pitts if he's there at No. 10.

As the Texans prepare for their first season under head coach David Culley, the club is also preparing to implement a new defensive system under coordinator Lovie Smith.

The former head coach of the Bears and Buccaneers was fired in December after a five-year tenure with Illinois. But Smith is now back at the professional level, which he said on Thursday is likely a better fit for his scheme.

“I think when I initially left the NFL and went to college, it was probably more adjustments we had to make then,” Smith said during his press conference. “The college game, it’s a lot more quarterback-run-dominated offenses. I think our system — and everybody has a system, you tweak it from year to year. But I don’t think we’ll have to adjust ours that much.

“In college we weren’t able to run our entire system. Most of the time [offenses] go three receivers — we kept our base defense on the field. We didn’t play our nickel packages much. So I think our defense is more suited for the NFL game and we’ll make the tweaks and things like that. But we feel pretty good about what I’ve seen.”

Smith added that despite coaching in college since 2016, he’s watched the NFL to keep up with trends.

There’s clear evidence that Smith’s system didn’t work out at Illinois, with the team surrendering 35 points per game in 2020.

It’s been a while, but in the NFL, Smith’s final Bears team in 2012 finished No. 3 in points allowed and No. 5 in yards allowed. In 2015, Smith’s last with the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay finished 10th in yards allowed but 26th in points allowed.

The Texans were 27th in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed in 2020, so Smith has his work cut out for him to improve the unit to a respectable level in the upcoming season.