Daily Brew: 3 key ingredients for Whitney Mercilus' early 2019 success

Whitney Mercilus has a sack in every game this season.

He's forced a fumble in each of the last three contests, and he picked off a pass in Week 1. On a weekly basis, he's been around the ball and made plays for a Texans defense that's currently 10th in the NFL with 19.5 points allowed per game.

The impactful play has come largely because of three key reasons. He's not having to drop into coverage as much, so he's been able to rush the passer more. Mercilus also had a healthy training camp in 2019, after going through a 2018 camp in which he had a back injury.

But the third reason is an interesting one.

"All you're seeing is pent-up rage and anger that's transpiring on the field right now," Mercilus said. "I'm showcasing exactly what people didn't think I was able to do, especially at my age, and year 8 in the League."

Mercilus, who now has six quarterback hits, five sacks, four forced fumbles, three tackles for loss and the pick, has turned quite a few heads. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph likes what he's seen, and pointed to the outside linebacker's strong work ethic as another reason for success.

"He's always been that guy to put the work in," Joseph said. "Stays late. One of the first guys in the building. Always working to get better at his craft. Team-first guy. So I'm happy for him that he's having the season he's having."

Because of the torrid start to 2019, head coach Bill O'Brien made Mercilus a captain for yesterday's game. He joined Joseph, defensive end J.J. Watt, quarterback Deshaun Watson and linebacker Dylan Cole at midfield for the coin toss.

"He's just doing a really good job," O'Brien said. "He does a lot of things well. He plays the run well, he's instinctive, he rushes the passer well, he does whatever the team needs. He's a good guy to have on the team."

According to the Houston Texans media relations department, since 1993, Mercilus, Watt and Khalil Mack are the only players to notch five sacks and four forced fumbles in the first four games of a season. Watt and Mack accomplished the feat in 2018.

Mercilus and the Texans will host the Falcons this Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Houston Texans take on the Carolina Panthers at NRG Stadium for the fourth game of the 2019 NFL season.

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