Analyzing Houston Texans’ pass rusher’s performance in 2018

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images /

The Houston Texans have gotten to the opposing quarterback in 2018.

The Houston Texans are having an uptick this season in sacks that they haven’t had in a while. The defense currently has 40 sacks through 15 games in the regular season, the Texans have two games remaining and the defense overall is currently averaging a minimum of 2.5 sacks per game. Those 40 sacks have them ranked 11th in the league. The Texans also rank third in the entire NFL with 20 forced fumbles and are tied with the Cleveland Browns at the top of the league with 13 fumble recoveries.

Since head coach Bill O’Brien was hired in 2014, the Texans have had up and down years bringing down the opposing quarterback. In 2014, the Texans had 38 sacks, in 2015 they had 45 sacks, in 2016, 31 sacks, in 2017 32 sacks, and in 2018 they have 40 sacks with a game left. The Texans are having their second-best season in terms of sacks since 2015.

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A huge component of the sacks the defense has accrued has fallen in the shoulders of J.J. Watt. He has posted 20.5, 17.5, 1.5, 0, and 14.5 sacks in the five years under O’Brien. The only two seasons he didn’t have double digit number in sacks were due to back and knee injuries. Despite dealing with those severe injuries, Watt has been bounced back to his dominant self. Watt not only does he lead the team in sacks but he also leads the defense with six forced fumbles this season.

The other pass rusher that has improved each season and been a game wrecker since leaving his injuries behind is Jadeveon Clowney. In his five seasons since being drafted as the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, he’s posted 0, 4.5, 6, 9.5, and 8 sacks. His 9 sacks are good for second on the team, and he is tied for the lead in the league with three fumble recoveries. Clowney has served as one of the consistent and most reliable players on the defense. Since missing 12 games in his rookie season with a knee injury, he’s only missed six games in the last four seasons.

The Texans have gotten sacks from other contributors in the front seven such as Whitney Mercilus and Christian Covington who both have 3.5 sacks. Outside linebacker Duke Ejiofor and defensive lineman Angelo Blackson both have a sack meanwhile nose tackle D.J. Reader has two sacks and inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney has 1.5 sacks.

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Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has also been creative in deploying defensive backs in blitz packages. Tyrann Mathieu has a career-best 3 sacks and Kareem Jackson has a sack this season as well. The defense getting pressure to the quarterback from all it’s three levels has given the Texans to a 10-5 record and allowed them to go to the playoffs for the third time in five seasons since O’Brien was hired as the head coach.