PFF claims the Houston Texans have loaded up on defense, but does their own ratings contradict their statement?

Pro Football Focus (PFF) claims the Houston Texans loaded up on defense, but do their own metrics support that?

Oct 9, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates
Oct 9, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates / Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus is a great tool for those looking to compile information on players who you may not have seen play a lot. There are only so many hours in the day, and despite what some on social media would like to claim, there's no way they're watching game films on every team during the week. That's absurd for people who don't do this for a living.

It's absurd for those of us who do. So Pro Football Focus (PFF) can help give us a better idea of a player's strengths and weaknesses while diving deeper into more nuanced stats. That said, they have their own biases, and don't rely on actual, definable stats or football moves when it comes to some positions.

They're a good source, but they shouldn't be the end-all be-all of anyone's evaluation cycle. Yet, when PFF is the one saying that a team is loaded (loading) up on defense when their own stats don't support that, we're left wondering what it is they're actually doing over there.

They recently said that the Houston Texans were loading up on defense with their recent string of free agents. Never mind that the Texans let two players walk who, according to their own metrics, were better than all but one of these players, but the guys the Texans got, according to PFF aren't good.

And we're going to look at those grades now.

The first name mentioned is Folorunso Fatukasi, who earned a 61.0 overall score on PFF, which is a very average, to slightly below average score on the site. These are usually the players you cut or don't re-sign. The Texans brought him in, and famously, he's very bad against the run. While he posted a 60.7 against the run in 2023, in 2022 he posted a 41.4, and a 57.3 in 2022. Prior to that, he had two good years against the run, but that was then, and he clearly isn't producing like he once was.

Danielle Hunter had a bad year against the run in 2023, posting a score of just 51.7, but his overall grade of 78 is on par with what to expect from him. Also, unlike the rest of the players on this list, Hunter is notoriously consistent and 2023 was less about him being bad against the run and more an issue with the defense as a whole.

While he did have 10 sacks in 2023, Denico Autry's 61.7 overall grade isn't great, and his 52 score against the run is concerning. Unlike Hunter, who is still in the prime of his career, Autry is about to be 34 and is near the end of his career. His PFF scores reflect that, as they've been wildly inconsistent. He's likely to still be able to help the Texans, but at his age, a decline in his skills is the only thing you can rely on

If you're looking for a linebacker who can stop the run, Azeez Al-Shaair is a solid option at that. If you're looking for him to do anything else, you're doomed. Al-Shaair's PFF overall score of 64.7 and a 73.7 against the run would be a fine addition (for far less money that is), but as the money that would've gone to retaining Blake Cashman went to Al-Shaair, it's not an improvement. They downgraded their strongside linebacker for their middle linebacker but didn't bring a MIKE in of similar talent as the departing SAM.

The team is hoping that Christian Harris and Henry To'oto'o step up on the outside, allowing Al-Shaair to shine in the middle, but Cashman was the best linebacker the team had, and now it seems unlikely that Al-Shaair will be able to shine with subpart talent next to him. He'd be a fine signing if he was 1/3 of the cost and the team retained Cashman.

Jeff Okuda is a bust, he's got a 50.5 overall score and a coverage grade of 46.0. As he's a cornerback, that's beyond bad. To even include someone, who's likely to be cut after camp, is laughable.

The Texans improved their defensive line a bit with Hunter and Autry, but the rest of the signings were either short-sighted, bad or were downgrades over the talent they already had.