There have been some great defenders in the football history of the city of Houston, but rarely has there been a player that's shouldered such pressure like Jadeveon Clowney. As the number one overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and the former number one overall player in the nation coming out of high school, Clowney has faced immense expectations that have been, at times, completely unrealistic.
Then, the injuries hit and Clowney really had little chance to live up to the billing in his first two seasons. Once 2016 started, though, he more than made up for lost time, in particular in the Texans win in Indianapolis. His strip sack against Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck helped save the win for the Texans and, arguably, was the defensive play of the year to this point.
He said during training camp he just needed to play a full season and the production would follow. He wasn't wrong, and, as a result, he's been one of the best run defenders in the entire NFL. Even when teams send multiple defenders in his direction, Clowney can completely wipe out runs, inside or out.
A great example of Clowney's ability to shut down the run could be seen in this stop for a short gain against the Colts in Indianapolis.
The Colts offense came out in the shotgun with Robert Turbin next to Luck in the backfield, with Jack Doyle, the team's H-back also in the backfield.
Clowney was aligned as a defensive end to the right of the defensive formation.
The Colts ran a version of a counter play toward Clowney with the backside guard and H-back pulling in front of Turbin.
Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo had the initial blocking responsibility on Clowney, with the pullers coming to seal the inside linebackers and secondary support. They should've helped on Clowney.
Clowney stacked and shed Castonzo with a strong shock and pull, which got him free. In so doing, he interrupted the path of both pullers.
He broke through the fracas and emerged in the path of Turbin.
Clowney then made the sure tackle for little gain to set up a second and long for the Colts offense in the second half.
Later in the game, he forced his now famous game changing fumble. That was easy for all to see and appreciate. His ability to stop the run, though, was just as valuable and he's been one of the best in the NFL at doing it in 2016.