Changing an icon is an unenviable activity, however one which the Houston Texans’ line of defense faces this 12 months.
Texans legend J.J. Watt is now in a (even) hotter local weather with the Arizona Cardinals. An already struggling entrance line has misplaced its most constantly productive defensive participant.
Whereas Watt hadn’t been at his mind-blowing greatest since his comeback in 2018, his influence on Houston’s protection was as essential as ever in 2020.
Final season Watt led Houston in sacks (5.0), quarterback hits (17), defensive fumbles returned (Tied with 1), pressured fumbles (Tied with 2), defended passes (Tied with 7), interceptions (Tied with 1), and defensive touchdowns (1).
And that may very well be classed as an ‘off 12 months’ for Watt…
Now that Watt has departed, Houston must discover a alternative for that manufacturing. However who’s the correct man to fill the void?
New defender Shaq Lawson arrived through commerce this offseason and appears the most probably to take Watt’s spot within the lineup. He himself recorded 4 sacks, 18 QB hits, a pressured fumble, a defended cross, and a landing in 2020.
Lawson alone can’t be anticipated to switch Watt, it will should be a gaggle effort.
Third-year defensive finish Charles Omenihu had a acceptable manufacturing in Yr 2 and a rotational participant, and noticed his snaps enhance week by week. The flexibility is there, however is the consistency?
Jacob Martin and Jonathan Greenard bot suited up for Houston at outdoors linebackers throughout Invoice O’Brien’s 3-4 set. They now transfer to a three-point stance with Lovie Smith taking part in a Tampa 2 4-3 base.
Martin and Greenard have proven potential as out and out cross rushers, and this transformation of scheme and place may very well be simply what they should thrive.
Whitney Mercilus can even must discover a new function with this scheme change. His pass-rushing talents have by no means been doubtful and may very well be set to grow to be an elevated a part of his recreation this 12 months.
Amongst the wave of recent arrivals have been defensive finish DeMarcus Walker who had 4.5 sacks final 12 months, and out of doors linebacker Jordan Jenkins who had a drop in manufacturing final 12 months however eight sacks in 2019 with the Jets.
Maliek Collins, who if he can return to his former greatest, could be an enormous increase to this line of defense.
In the end, this coaching camp might be an enormous alternative for all of the aforementioned gamers. Houston wants a big-time playmaker and has an enormous gap within the beginning lineup.
That is the form of probability gamers dream of reaching. Changing a expertise like Watt is difficult, however somebody has too, proper?
If Smith is fortunate, he’ll have loads of competitors for the job and greater than sufficient productiveness from a number of guys to switch maybe the best participant to don a Texans uniform.
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