Texans news: Whitney Mercilus’ 4 sacks won’t be enough in ’21

Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
Whitney Mercilus, Houston Texans
Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Though Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus didn’t play a full season in 2020 with 13 games, there still needs to be a lot of improvement in ’21 as his number of sacks last season weren’t enough to make the defense a success.

Mercilus played in 13 games in ’20, where he had just 12 solo tackles, only four sacks, and no forced fumbles. The previous season, Mercilus finished with 33 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, and even four forced fumbles.

Want to really know how poor of a season Mercilus had in ’20? His Pro Football Focus grade was under 40 at 39.5, but the previous year of 2019 that grade was 65.0, so maybe he can become that player again in ’21?

Going all the way back to 2016, Mercilus had a PFF grade of 79.1, so in a span from ’16 to ’20 the drop of 39.6 is a huge drop in grade in that short span of time. This year has to be a bounce-back season for Mercilus, and he’ll have help with a new defense in the Tampa 2 under new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith as he works to repair one of the worst units in the league from a season ago.

One part of Mercilus’ game that will maybe help in ’21 could be in the 4-3 defense of Smith (instead of the 3-4 from past seasons) is Mercilus will be playing from the edge and not as the true outside linebacker.

Maybe that switch in formations will help, but what could hurt Mercilus is no more J.J. Watt on the defensive line for the opposing offensive line to focus, and that target could go to Mercilus now.

Things will be much different, and the prediction for Mercilus in ’21 is he’ll rebound, and the ’20 season will be just a distant memory and be a product of what was a complete poor season by the entire team as a unit.

Related Story. Texans wanted Kellen Mond, Vikings stole him in NFL Draft. light

Houston Texans news: Mercilus has opportunity to erase the ’20 season

The good thing for Whitney Mercilus and the ’21 season is he can make everyone forget about the ’20 season, as when training camp rolls around it will be a fresh start. To be honest, one big reason for the microscope is on Mercilus every year as of late is the huge contract he signed. So yes, expectations are very high for the defensive standout.

Mercilus’ contract (according to spotrac.com) was signed for four years and $54 million with $28.5 guaranteed. This upcoming season, the ’21 contract year is worth $4.5 million in base salary, $1.5 million in signing bonus, and it does have a cap hit of $8 million, with a dead cap of $15 million.

Though as a team the Houston Texans most likely won’t be on the winning side of many games, to be competitive Mercilus must be on his best ‘A’ game in ’21. Shaq Lawson will most likely be opposite of Mercilus on the edge, so that will be very interesting to see how those two gel in their first season as teammates.

Again, for the 30-year-old Mercilus, this upcoming season is a real chance and opportunity to be the captain of the entire defense and to take over the leadership role vacated by the departure of J.J. Watt.

dark. Next. No mini camp for the Houston Texans

It is going to be a very interesting year for the Houston Texans to say the least, and a player who will be watched the closest on defense just might be Whitney Mercilus.