Many people in and around the NFL feel like the Texans have one of the best defenses, if not the best, in the league. The return of J.J. Watt and Kevin Johnson to a group that was number one in the NFL last year in total defense is a scary proposition for the teams on the Texans 2017 schedule.
The flip side of that discussion is that the Texans defense will also get tested, severely tested, this year by the offensive talent on the 2017 schedule. Marc Vandermeer, the Voice of the Texans, and I went through this exercise on radio earlier this week…
Who are the top ten offensive players the Texans face in 2017?
This wasn't easy in the slightest, but let's count them down. We did not include offensive linemen in our decision process, as we did this on radio and most people would be bored by O-Line talk... unfortunately. Regardless, Joe Thomas (Browns), Marshal Yanda (Ravens), Jack Conklin (Titans), David DeCastro (Steelers) and Taylor Lewan (Titans) would definitely be in the discussion. As far as the ten we came up with... here goes.
- Titans running back DeMarco Murray
- Bengals receiver A.J. Green
- Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton
- Colts quarterback Andrew Luck
- Cardinals running back David Johnson
- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
- Steelers running back LeVeon Bell
- Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski
- Steelers receiver Antonio Brown
- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
The first group on the outside looking in were, in no particular order, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, Rams running back Todd Gurley, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Chiefs offensive weapon Tyreek Hill, Titans tight end Delanie Walker and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Brady is a slam dunk, no brainer at number one, but I surprised Marc with my thoughts on Antonio Brown at number two. I just think he's the most difficult player to cover in all of football. We saw that up close on Monday Night Football in 2014 at Pittsburgh and he's only gotten better since.
The Texans run defense will have its hands full with Bell, Johnson, Murray (twice) and Gurley on the schedule. The run defense had some rough moments early in the 2016 season before locking in and shutting teams down for the much of the rest of the year. This group, however, is a much different group than what the Texans faced in 2016. Other than Murray and potentially Melvin Gordon (Chargers), the Texans didn't face a stud running back. But, that will change in a hurry in 2017. Alas, there's not much drop off in quarterbacks faced either.
2016 - Luck (2x), Mariota, Derek Carr (Raiders), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Philip Rivers (Chargers)
2017 - Brady, Big Ben, Luck (2x), Wilson, Mariota (2x), Carson Palmer (Cardinals), Joe Flacco (Ravens)
Ugh. Either way, if this defense stiffens and finishes number one in the league again, it'll have definitely worked for it, that's for sure.