For the last nine years Houston Texans fans have waited for a team like this year’s team. They have waited for a team that plays with passion, pride, and power. They have sat by patiently hoping that the next season would bring about a playoff berth only to be constantly disappointed. This year, however, things are looking up, and for good reason. This year’s team is easily the best in the team’s nine year history. Don’t believe me? Let us take a look shall we…?
Statistics Do Not Lie
I know that winning football games and making it to the playoffs is not always about statistics but statistically the teams with the best statistics make it to the playoffs. Did I lose you there?
Football is more than just a game of numbers. It is about strategy, stamina, and determination among other things. However, the teams that consistently make it to the playoffs also have some of the best statistics in the league.
This year the Texans are one of the teams whose statistics have improved so dramatically you almost have to wonder if they are even the same team from last year. In my opinion the answer to that would be a resounding “NO” but we will get to that later.
Statistically, the Texans are one of the five best teams in the NFL this season.
Defensively, the Texans are the third best team in the league. Wait a minute…that cannot be right…third best in the league? Oh yeah, it is true. Somehow DC Wade Phillips has taken the Texans from being the 30th best defensive unit in the NFL to one of the top five.
So how good is this year’s defensive unit? Through their first eight games the Texans have only allowed 18.1 points/game (fifth in league), 286.8 yards/game (third), and 17.4 first downs/game (fifth). Similarly, they have allowed teams to convert on only 32% of their third down attempts (third), have limited offenses to an average of 26:29 on the field (third), have 20 team sacks (tied for seventh), and have 10 interceptions (sixth). By these stats alone we are one of the top five defenses in the league.
What these stats do not include, though, are the QB pressures. By adhering to Wade Phillips hybrid 3-4 the Texans are able to apply pressure to the quarterback on almost every down. What this means is that the QB is forced to get rid of the ball faster, therefore making him less accurate.
In fact, last season the Texans allowed QBs to complete 64.7% of their passes which was the 27th best rate in the league. This year the Texans have allowed only 50.8% of passes to be completed which, by the way, is the best in the league!
Let us not focus completely on statistics though. This year the Texans have brought a completely revamped attitude to the field. They are hitting harder, running faster, being meaner, and holding each other accountable. Rumor also has it that they are playing “dirty”.
If you do not believe just take a look at this picture:
Yes kids, that is blood and not kool-aid. That is a real Houston Texans player and that is a real injury. Players like ILB Brian Cushing have turned on an entirely new level of “psychotic” and are bringing the pain this year.
You can see it during almost every game. The players are beginning to develop a “swagger” and their passion for the game is spreading like a fire throughout the entire defense. Additionally, they are holding each other to a completely new level of accountability when it comes to making big defensive plays.
Jeffrey Martin, of the Houston Chronicle, wrote an article about the Texans placing a premium on turnovers. What it means for the Texans defense is that if they miss an interception that they should have made, they will be fined $500…not by the league, not by the team, but by each other. This has improved the defense not only because it hits the paycheck but also because players are consistently trying to outdo each other. Last year the team had 18 total takeaways, this season they already have 14; I would say that this is working out quite well.
In conclusion, the Texans defense this year is – by far – the best defense that the franchise has ever had. By having such a great defense the team has become the best team in the franchise’ s history as well. They have a top 10 offense with a top five defense making them a team that is destined to reach the playoffs. But let us not forget to take it one game at a time… 1-0 every week.