Houston Texans: Whitney Mercilus continues hot start and J.J. Watt joins in
The Houston Texans are seeing great things from Whitney Mercilus this season, and now J.J. Watt is heating up too.
With the departure of Jadeveon Clowney before Week 1, fans of the Houston Texans were curious how the defense would perform without the Pro Bowl defensive end. Whitney Mercilus has been wreaking havoc with Clowney gone and continued his great play against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3.
Through two games this season, Mercilus had one tackle for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and his first career interception. Against the Chargers, Mercilus was just as disruptive and helped to change the momentum when the Texans really needed it.
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In the third quarter on Sunday against the Chargers, after the Texans scored to get within three points, Mercilus sacked Philip Rivers and forced a fumble that was recovered by Zach Cunningham. That turnover led to the touchdown that put the Texans up 21-17.
Along with that sack and forced fumble, Mercilus recorded two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. Just like in the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2, it was Mercilus forcing a timely fumble that resulted in a score to give the Texans the lead and ultimately the win.
J.J. Watt has struggled to get going early this season and was going to be needed against Rivers and the Chargers. Through the first two games of the season, Watt was unable to record a solo tackle and had just one quarterback hit.
Watt exploded on Sunday, recording two tackles for loss and his first two sacks along with five quarterbacks hits on Rivers. Watt and Mercilus were big in making the Chargers one-dimensional along with rushing the passer, holding them to 73 yards on the ground.
Despite a rough day for the Texans’ secondary against a tough quarterback, the front seven of Houston as a whole performed well. In total, the group was able to get to Rivers for a season-high five sacks and 12 quarterback hits, along with seven tackles for loss.
The Texans have yet to put it all together early on, but thankfully it is a team game. This Sunday, the front seven picked up the slack and Watt had his best individual performance on the season.
If Watt can replicate this going forward, along with the monster start Mercilus is having, the guys behind them should have opportunities to make plays the rest of the season.