Welcome to Tuesday 10, where every Tuesday over the summer, we'll count down 10 Detroit Lions who are vital to the team's success in 2013. Today, we continue things by examining a cornerback who cashed in and now needs to play up to potential.
When the Detroit Lions hit the 2013 offseason, there were a few major questions to be answered. The biggest, perhaps, was whether the team would re-sign inconsistent cornerback Chris Houston or look in a different direction.
Detroit ended up betting on their internal option in Houston, inking him to a five year, $25 million dollar contract. They skipped out on other options with their own issues, such as Aquib Talib, Brent Grimes, Antoine Winfield and Sean Smith, and avoided getting involved in a high price bidding war for Darelle Revis.
As a result, Houston became Detroit's best choice. Since joining the team in 2010 in a trade with Atlanta, he has contributed eight interceptions and certainly knows Gunther Cunningham's system, making him a valuable asset in a season of turnover on the back end. The bulk of those interceptions, though, came in the 2011 season, where multiple Detroit defenders enjoyed career years and Houston had a bit more help in the secondary.
Last season, Houston's production disappeared off the map with only two interceptions and 44 tackles, as secondary depth was an issue and he was routinely burned as a result. Many believed, though, that if Houston was worth a big dollar extension, he should have played better when placed on an island without much help to earn the money.
The truth is, Houston is likely better served playing in a supporting role, around plenty of other good options in the defensive backfield. This season, with the expected emergence of Darius Slay and Chris Greenwood and the arrival and health of safety options such as Glover Quin and Louis Delmas, Houston could be back to his confident ways. For his part, he should be and must be.
The Lions' defense looked elite in 2011 because Houston was playing well and patrolling the secondary with confidence. When that dropped last season, the Lions' confidence suffered greatly as a whole. Now, with a new contract in tow, Houston needs to be confident and play up to the lofty expectations that come with a big contract. Four interceptions (or more) should be the realistic expectation in 2013.
Should Houston play as well as expected, there will likely be a correlation between that and a much better Lions' record overall.
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