Unlike the Offense, most position groups on the Texans Defense are playing well. However, that cannot be said for some aspects of the first half special teams and coaching.
Defensive Line – What a difference one player makes. Without J. J. Watt the defensive line is struggling to hold its own. When a defensive line generates very little pass rush AND is consistently gashed by the run it puts tremendous pressure on the other groups. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening to the Texans.
In the first half Romeo Crennel and the defensive coaching staff did well developing game plans that mask the Texans d-line weakness. Consequently Jadeveon Clowney spends most of his time with his hand in the dirt. The Texans would be in big trouble without him. With Crennel’s schemes and Clowney playing down the linebackers and, especially the secondary, mostly compensated for the poor line play.
As with the offensive line, the problem is that the defensive line is not very talented. Vince Wilfork, a stud in his prime, is well beyond his peak years. D. J. Reader has potential, but his primary role in the first half was spelling Wilfork. No defensive end candidate has emerged.
Maybe Antonio Smith adds a little as he rounds into playing shape. Perhaps Christian Covington can become more consistent. It’s possible that Joel Heath has some upside. But none of these guys look like difference makers.
The ultimate solution is adding new talent and getting Watt back. Neither happens this year. Therefore the plan for the second half is much like the first. Scheme around the weak defensive line play relying on superior performance from the other position groups.