Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is known for his creativity on defense.
Maybe it's because he views it like a Broadway performance.
"Like I tell the guys all the time, if you've ever been to a Broadway play, on that stage, there's generally one or two stars, but then you have a whole lot of other people that make that play successful and make it go," Crennel said. "The thing that I try to impart on these guys is everybody has a role to play. Play your role to the best of your ability. Then maybe one day then you can be that star."
Those stars would be veterans like J.J. Watt and players like Whitney Mercilus, who is garnering more attention with each passing week. With stars and supporting cast coming together in their roles, the Texans defense has become quite a hit production.
Crennel takes it another level, putting Mike linebacker Brian Cushing as director. Cushing has the microphone and will get the call out. After that, the players communicate to each other to remind one another what their assignment is.
"We have three different packages, which is already one more than most teams have, and every single one has a different role within it," Cushing said. "But I get the calls in every single one, and I've got to relay it to everyone, and I'm in charge of the checks and in charge of lining everyone up, but everyone does a great job echoing the calls, as well." Cushing said.
Sounds like a director's role, right?
The Texans defense improved its communication as the season progressed. Since Week 8, Houston's defense ranked first in in the NFL in total net yards allowed per game (263.0), first in points allowed per game (12.7). In that span, the defense also tied for a league-high in sacks (32.0).
In their final act of the regular season, Mercilus and Watt had 3.5 and 3.0 sacks, respectively.
"But that's the way everybody has to do their job, and guys like J.J., they're the stars and they get all the accolades, but there are guys like Whitney, who didn't get many, but he's beginning to show up a little bit," Crennel said. "There's some of these young guys who are playing their roles and they're playing their roles pretty good, but it takes everybody to make it happen and make it efficient."
Under Crennel, the Texans defense ranked first the in the NFL in third-down defense (28.5%) in 2015, the lowest single-season mark in franchise history by 4.5 percent and the lowest percentage by any NFL team since the 2003 Tennessee Titans (27.7%).