Linebackers and the secondary carried the defense.
Linebacker – The first half linebacker play was solid, but unspectacular. The defensive line weaknesses allowed too many offensive linemen to get to the second level. That contributed to the rushing defense issues. The pass rush was good, but unspectacular. It has to get better in the second half.
However, in the second half my big concern for the linebacker position group is a lack of depth. If Whitney Mercilus goes down the Texans are in trouble. The loss of Benardrick McKinney, John Simon or Brian Cushing causes almost as many problems. Sure, if Mercilus goes down Clowney can step in. But then how weak is the Texans defensive line?
The linebackers are good enough to dominate behind a quality defensive line. Even with the line issues linebacking was an important part of an overall strong first half defensive performance. If they can stay healthy they will be even better in the second half.
Secondary – The Texans secondary was the glue that held the defense together in the first half. The Texans regularly played five and six defensive backs in a variety of nickel and dime schemes. In spite of a somewhat inconsistent pass rush the secondary was excellent against the pass and supported well against the run.
In the second half the Texans will miss Kevin Johnson, but A. J. Bouye has come on strong. A healthy Lonnie Ballentine more than makes up for the loss of K. J. Dillon. The secondary is deep and talented. It should lead the Texans defense throughout the second half.