Experts agree: Texans defense in '17 will be...

Last fall was a remarkable one for the Houston Texans defense. 

But this autumn might be even better.

The 2016 Texans defense allowed the fewest yards per game in the NFL. Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney teamed up with Whitney Mercilus for a combined 13.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss. Benardrick McKinney tallied a team-high 129 tackles and made big strides in year two as a pro. The unit allowed less than 75 rushing yards per game from Week 8 through the end of the year.

And 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt didn't play a game after the third week of the season.

 

At the Combine in Indianapolis, Deepi Sidhu of HoustonTexans.com polled the national media and got their thoughts on what the 2017 defense might do. She spoke with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, MMQB's Albert Breer, Alex Flanagan from NBC Sports, Jason La Canfora of B-More Opinionated, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and ESPN's Adam Caplan.

"Even better than last season when it ranked number one. A chance to be number one when it comes to allowing fewer points, but to do that, your offense has got to keep the ball a lot."
"Better. I don't know how it could be better, but better. I think seeing Clowney come on like he did last year without Watt had to be unbelievable news for this Texans team."
"You know, every year is different. I think if they were able to be the same level that they were last year, they would be happy with that, but obviously J.J. gives you some more options. Being able to pair him now with a more developed Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus – they have the potential to become better upfront than they were."
"Brilliantly awesome, right? And bring a little J.J. Watt energy to it."
"Beastlier? Is beastlier a word? I am trying to be economical with my words. I know we are looking for short and sweet. Even better. Obviously you are talking about back issues – you're hoping you get him healthy and stay in it through 16 games if possible, but he's obviously an incredible difference maker."
"Even better. It's the obvious answer, I guess, but Texans defense played pretty well without him and with one of the best players in the league returning to the lineup, they should be even better. Excited to see him back out there."
"Great. It will be great because you have the NFL's best defensive player – for my money, don't have a lot of money – but he would be. As long as he's himself or close to it, you got the NFL's best defense. Look how well they did without him. Just think about how much better they'll be with him."

MCCLAIN: "Even better than last season when it ranked number one. A chance to be number one when it comes to allowing fewer points, but to do that, your offense has got to keep the ball a lot."

RAPOPORT: "Better. I don't know how it could be better, but better. I think seeing Clowney come on like he did last year without Watt had to be unbelievable news for this Texans team."

BREER: "You know, every year is different. I think if they were able to be the same level that they were last year, they would be happy with that, but obviously J.J. gives you some more options. Being able to pair him now with a more developed Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus – they have the potential to become better upfront than they were."

FLANAGAN: "Brilliantly awesome, right? And bring a little J.J. Watt energy to it."

LA CANFORA: "Beastlier? Is beastlier a word? I am trying to be economical with my words. I know we are looking for short and sweet. Even better. Obviously you are talking about back issues – you're hoping you get him healthy and stay in it through 16 games if possible, but he's obviously an incredible difference maker."

BRUGLER: "Even better. It's the obvious answer, I guess, but Texans defense played pretty well without him and with one of the best players in the league returning to the lineup, they should be even better. Excited to see him back out there."

CAPLAN: "Great. It will be great because you have the NFL's best defensive player – for my money, don't have a lot of money – but he would be. As long as he's himself or close to it, you got the NFL's best defense. Look how well they did without him. Just think about how much better they'll be with him."


The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 3/2/2021)

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