Houston Texans: Whitney Mercilus returns to dominant play
The Houston Texans have gotten dominant play from a familiar face in Whitney Mercilus. Although we are only 2 games into the year, Mercilus has already had his best year to date.
When the Houston Texans traded away Jadeveon Clowney it seemed like Whitney Mercilus was being given the opportunity to show what he’s got left in the tank. Not to mention the fact that Mercilus is in a contract year, as this is the final year of the extension he inked back in 2015.
Mercilus last showed his dominance in ’15, when he had 12 sacks, which was the last time he’s had double digit sacks. This is why the question was posed of whether Mercilus was going to be in line for a dominant season, especially with the Clowney trade taking place so close to the start of the season. The reality is the Texans wouldn’t have traded Clowney away for so little in return if they didn’t feel Mercilus would be able to return to his former self.
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This season, Mercilus has already shown he’s still got elite pass rushing skills, as he’s had a sack in each of the first two games. In fact, his three sacks he already has on the year are just one less than the four sacks he had all last season.
Mercilus is on pace for 24 sacks if he keeps up his current rate of getting after opposing quarterbacks. Obviously that’s not going to continue at that rate, but it’s good to see Mercilus still has the pass rushing skills that prompted the Texans to select him in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
On top of that, one of the biggest knocks on Mercilus, even during his peak years were the lack of forced fumbles, but if the first two games are any indictment of how the season will go, he’s answered that bell.
Mercilus has already matched his career high in fumbles forced with two in two games. He also had his first interception of his career in the season opener against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. As rare as it is for Brees to throw interceptions, it’s even more rare for him to throw picks in the red zone, which is where Mercilus snagged the pick.
Mercilus is in store for a monster year, as he’s already had his most turnovers forced in a season and we aren’t even a quarter of the way finished with the season. Hopefully this continues, and if it does, Mercilus will get a nice contract extension!