The Houston Texans will be looking to Whitney Mercilus to be a player of many abilities and attributes for the 2019 season.
The overall numbers on the stat sheet for Houston Texans aren’t what they were a couple seasons ago, but after one season on the field following missing 11 games, the 2018 season saw defensive end/linebacker Whitney Mercilus play in all 16 games and make his presence noticed in other ways besides on the stat sheet.
One of the ways Mercilus makes his mark for the Houston defense is with his versatility, which for the 2019 season is what he’ll be needed to do to help the unit the most.
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Defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Romeo Crennel recent gave his opinion on the versatility that Mercilus brings to the table for the Texans’ defense. In transcripts provided by HoustonTexans.com, Crennel said the following about Mercilus:
"“Having versatility – if a guy has versatility, we try to use that versatility and put him in different places and attack the offense in different ways. So, I think that he gives us that capability.”"
That capability will go a long way for the Texans in 2019, as though some of the numbers on the stat sheet have dropped compared to some past seasons, the versatility Mercilus has can’t be measured on a stat sheet or on any chart.
Having Mercilus on the field makes those around him better because the opposing offense knows he has to be accounted for, meaning another Texans player might not get the full coverage needed to be slowed down.
For Mercilus, 2018 was a season where he was returning from an injury the previous season, during which he played in just five games. In ’18, he returned to play the entire season, totaling 39 tackles (22 solo) with four sacks, two forced fumbles and three stuffs.
Those numbers aren’t on par with his overall career season numbers, but remember he was returning from a torn pectoral muscle after playing in just five games the previous season. The season before the injury (2016), Mercilus had one of his more stellar seasons with 53 tackles (36 solo) with 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, one pass defensed and eight stuffs.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mercilus had a season grade of 63.1 in ’18, playing in 823 snaps, along with 10 QB hits and 28 QB hurries. Those aren’t the best numbers on the team, but they don’t have to be because Mercilus is on a defense with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
Granted, Mercilus will be needed to play standing as a linebacker and down on the line at times as a defensive end depending on the situation, but overall when he’s healthy — which has been the case for most of his career — Mercilus will bring the versatility the Texans need on their defense, and sometimes that will not show up on the stat sheet.
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