Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston appeared on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Wednesday morning, and gave some interesting insight on his release from the Chiefs back in March.
Houston said he talked to the Chiefs coaches about remaining in Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense.
“I just wanted to be in a 4-3 (defense),” Houston told the GMFB hosts. “I think I didn’t get enough credit for me being in a 3-4, and dropping a lot of the time, so my sack numbers weren’t as high as I would like for them to be. So just being in a 4-3 and don’t have to think about dropping no more is something I want to do for the rest of my career. I just want to go forward and rush the passer.”
But for the Chiefs, Houston’s desire to play in the 4-3 was outweighed by his salary — $15.5 million for 2019 and $17.5 million for 2020 — along with $7.1 million from his pro-rated signing bonus in 2019. That gave the 30-year-old Houston the highest cap number on the team.
Houston compiled 381 tackles (317) and 78.5 total sacks (fourth in Chiefs franchise history) during his eight-year career with the Chiefs, highlighted by a 22.0-sack season in 2014.
But now Houston has a new start as a defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts defense, which also plays a 4-3.
“He just has a presence,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said. “You can feel his leadership. Justin is a really savvy, smart football player.”
“He loves teaching, man,” said fellow Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard. “He’s another leader that’s stepping up, helping guys get better. He’s out there showing it. He’s not just talking it, he’s showing it.”
Asked about the locker room vibe with his new team, Houston told GMFB it is keeping him young.
“It’s a great vibe,” he said. “A bunch of young guys. They’re willing to learn and want to listen. So any time I’m speaking they’re all ears. They just want to take notes every time I’m trying to coach them up. It’s great to be around a group of young guys who have a lot of energy. It keeps you young.“
He’s also getting to know Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, whose original introduction to Houston threw him for a loop.
“I think my first sack on him was in the playoffs — the year they came back and beat us,” Houston explained to GMFB. “I got a pretty good hit on him. He got up off the ground and just said, ‘Good tackle.’ It was surprising to me, because most quarterbacks are teed off because they just got hit. But he had a smile on his face. It threw my game off a little bit.”
The Colts will face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 6 — a Sunday night game that will be a rematch of the last season’s 31-13 loss to the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Colts are likely to be loaded for bear — and if history is any guide, Houston will be giving the game his best effort.