Houston Texans: Watt’s Next For This Team?


These days, it seems like every opponent is having a problem with Houston and that revitalized Texans defense.

Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) makes a reception during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Saints 24-6. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say that the Houston Texans are on a roll. And all it took was a wake-up call in South Florida.

Harken back to Week 7 and what proved to be a 44-26 humbling loss to the Miami Dolphins.

ALSO ON SPIN ZONE: Fantasy Football: Top 10 Sleepers for Week 13

In that game, Bill O’Brien’s team fell behind 41-0 in first half and some would argue it wasn’t that close. The Texans defense gave up big play after big play and nothing went their way. The setback would drop the team’s record to 2-5.

But a funny things happened on the way to the defeat. Houston showed a little intestinal fortitude in the second half, not allowing a touchdown while making the final score somewhat respectable. Of course, that means little in a league where moral victories mean nothing when it comes to playoff appearances.

However, that final 30 minutes of improved play have been followed by four consecutive wins as Romeo Crennel’s defense has awoken in a big way.

Starting with the second half of the Miami game, the Texans have allowed a total of 38 points and a combined two touchdowns in their last 18 quarters of play, both of those end zone visits in a 24-17 win over the New York Jets. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals (sporting an 8-0 record at the time) and the New Orleans Saints were all held to six points (2 field goals) over that span.

Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans strong safety Quintin Demps (27) and strong safety Andre Hal (29) defend New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) during the game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

That’s two touchdowns and seven field goals in four and a half games, this after Crennel’s defensive unit surrendered five offensive touchdowns in the first 30 minutes at Miami.

This may come a huge surprise, but guess who’s leading the charge for the Texans. Two-time NFL Defensive player of the Year J.J. Watt is on a tear these days. Including that first half of the loss to the Dolphins, the perennial Pro Bowl defensive end had racked up a mere four sacks in six and a half games (26 quarters).

More from NFL Spin Zone

During Houston’s aforementioned 18-quarter run, Watt has totaled 9.5 sacks and is once again leading the NFL with 13.5 quarterback traps.

Besides the defense, O’Brien appears to finally have the quarterback situation settled as Brian Hoyer (when healthy) is the main man behind center. The early-season debacle that was the in-and-out-of-the-lineup duo of Hoyer and since-released Ryan Mallet has played itself out. Hoyer recently suffered a concussion vs. the Bengals and it was T.J. Yates (in his second stint with the organization) to the rescue. Yates would start and win vs. the New York Jets but Hoyer returned last week and helped guide the club to a 24-6 win over New Orleans.

Still, it’s Watt and the Houston defense that remains the headliner. This week, the Texans travel to Orchard Park to face the Buffalo Bills. Rex Ryan’s team owns a 5-6 record and as Tania Ganguli of ESPN explains, a very talented defense hasn’t had the expected impact many thought it would this season, especially in comparison to Watt.

Next: NFL MVP Watch (After Week 12)

All that is well and good. But for the Houston Texans, tied for first place in the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts, they continue to ride one of the hotter defensive units in the league.

And if the offense continues to be effective, who knows “Watt” is in store for O’Brien and company the rest of the way.