Texans Notebook: The Pass Rush, McKinney's Arrow Pointing Up and More

Some news and notes on the Houston Texans to start the week.

Texans Pass Rush

The Texans have four defenders with over 4.5 sacks on the season for only the third time in franchise history. In 2002 and 2011, the Texans accomplished this feat. In 2011, the Texans had five players over that mark. 

Texans Teams To Have FOUR or More Players with 4.5 Sacks

J.J. Watt (13.5) Connor Barwin (11.5) Jeff Posey (8)
Whitney Mercilus (8.5) Antonio Smith (6.5) Gary Walker (6.5)
John Simon (4.5) Brooks Reed (6) Jaime Sharper (5.5)
Jadeveon Clowney (4.5) J.J. Watt (5) Kailee Wong (5.5)
xx Mario Williams (5) xx

Whitney Mercilus is 1.5 sacks from joining  J.J. Watt as the first duo in team history achieving double digit sacks. Mercilus has 8.5 sacks at the moment with two games remaining, while Watt currently sits at 13.5 sacks.

Speaking of Watt, his broken hand came at an unfortunate time. Watt had been averaging 3.8 quarterback hits and 1.2 sacks in the first 11 games of the season. When Watt came down with a groin injury and the broken hand in practice, his numbers tumbled. Now he is averaging .67 quarterback hits a game and zero sacks his past three games. He did have a sack negated to offsetting penalties against the Buffalo Bills, but the injuries are clearly affecting Watt’s effectiveness. 

Arrow Pointing Up for Benardrick McKinney

After missing a couple games with a concussion to start the year, rookie inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney has grown to become one of the stabilizing pieces in the Texans defensive success since the bye week. McKinney has 54 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack on the season. 

His instincts and football I.Q. are apparent when he is on the field and that helps him close down on ball carriers. He is more athletic than most realize and he is getting the hang of tackling with a purpose. His play has brought an optimistic outlook to the position group for when Brian Cushing’s time is up. 

Bill O’Brien sees it too from the rookie linebacker. 

“You would put him in the arrow up category, meaning he’s getting better and better every week. It was funny, we talked a lot Saturday night in our team meeting about different guys and with him, it was about improvement,” said O’Brien on McKinney.

“When you looked at the first Indianapolis game relative to where he is now, the improvement has been exponential,” O’Brien continued. “He has really done a good job of learning our system, getting acclimated to the pro game. He’s playing well and that’s what he needs to do is just keep trying to get better every week.”


The Houston Texans by the end of next week could clinch the AFC South but they would need help. Here is how. 

  1. Texans win + Texans clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Indianapolis OR
  2.  Houston win + Indianapolis loss or tie OR
  3. Houston tie + Indianapolis loss

In order for the strength of victory to make a difference, the Cincinnati Bengals would have to beat the Denver Broncos this coming week. With the Bengals winning, the Texans would have the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Colts with their wins over the Bengals, Jets and Saints while the Colts’ top victories have come over the Broncos, Falcons and Dolphins. 

There is an outside chance the Texans could be making plans to host a home playoff game for the first time since 2012. 

Quotes of the Day

O’Brien on if he has been looking at the playoff possibilities. 


O’Brien on waiting to watch the game until Monday. 

“I came in here this morning and I watched the game from yesterday because I usually watch it on the plane, but I spilled a diet coke all over my Surface, so it got whatever, so I had to wait.” 

Brandon Weeden on getting messages from former Dallas Cowboys teammates after the win

“Yeah, I had quite a few. I had quite a few, coaches, staff, and players. It was nice, all good texts and just telling me congrats and how happy they are for me. It means a lot.”

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