Strategic pathways for Houston Texans to level up their surging defense

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As expected, the Houston Texans defense is greatly improved this season, with DeMeco Ryans coming over from San Francisco to but his stamp team.

One of the areas we've seen the most improvement is against the run. The Texans were dead last against the run last season, allowing 170.24 yards per game. In just one season, DeMeco has the Texans 6th against the run, only surrendering 93.5 yards per game.

And while drafting Will Anderson has certainly improved the unit, we have to take notice of what Jonathan Greenard is doing. He's fantastic against the run, but he's also sacking the quarterback at a high level, with already 12.5 sacks on the season.

The thought of Greenard and Anderson harassing opposing QBs for years to come has to be very appealing to DeMeco and the entire Texans fan base. But there's a catch, Greenard is in the last year of his deal, and he's going to want a contract that pays him market value.

So the question becomes, should Houston pay him? The Texans will have a ton of cap space this offseason, and the best time to add pieces is when you have a quarterback on an affordable rookie contract.

But to be fair, he's had some injury issues in the past and only played in 8 games last year. It's always a little concerning when a player has the best season of his career when he's about to be a free agent.

On the flip side, the Texans and their coaching staff have been a mess in recent years until Ryans was brought in. One could make the argument that it's hard to judge Greenard for previous seasons based on what was around him.

What about the secondary?

Derek Stingley is starting to show why he was drafted third overall in 2022, but let's not forget about Steven Nelson. He's been terrific, and he's also set to be a free agent after the season.

Should the Texans pony up and re-sign both players, or look to the draft to find their replacements?

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion and much more!

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Raners defeat the Astros, 4-2. Composite Getty Image.

Josh Smith homered twice with four RBIs to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Smith had a two-run shot in the first and added another one with two outs in the eighth to push the lead to 4-1. It’s the first multi-homer game of the 26-year-old’s career.

The Rangers won the last two games of the series after dropping Friday’s opener 6-3. They also got a 2-1 victory Saturday thanks to Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI single in the 10th inning.

Jake Meyers cut the lead to 1 with a solo home run in the third but the Astros went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position to fall to 50-46 entering the All-Star break.

Texas starter Max Scherzer allowed four hits and a run with six strikeouts in four-plus innings in his fifth start of the season.

Jon Singleton walked before a single by Jeremy Peña with no outs in the ninth. There was one out in the inning when Singleton scored on a groundout by Joey Loperfido to cut the lead to 4-2. Trey Cabbage grounded out to end it and give Kirby Yates his 16th save.

Ronel Blanco (9-4) permitted two hits and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings. He settled down after his tough first inning and retired the last 12 batters he faced.

Marcus Semien singled to start the game but was out at second when Corey Seager grounded into a foreceout. Smith gave the Rangers an early lead with his towering shot to the second deck to make it 2-0.

Meyers opened Houston’s third with a shot to the seats in left field to cut the lead to 2-1. Jose Altuve singled with two outs and stole second base but Scherzer struck out Alex Bregman for the third out.

The Astros had a shot to tie it or take the lead in the fifth. Peña and Meyers both singled before Loperfido walked to load the bases with no outs in the inning and chase Scherzer. Josh Sborz (2-0) took over and escaped the jam by striking out Mauricio Dubón before retiring Altuve on a pop up and Bregman on a groundout to end the inning.

Seager walked with two outs in the eighth before Smith connected again to give him 10 home runs this season.

Altuve reached on a fielding error by Smith with one out in the eighth before Bregman singled off José Leclerc. Jacob Latz took over and struck out Yordan Alvarez before Yainer Diaz grounded out to leave Houston emptyhanded again.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Josh Jung (fractured right wrist) swung 15 times off a tee using a regular bat Sunday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he would continue increasing his activity during the break as he nears a rehabilitation assignment.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) threw a bullpen session of 25 pitches Sunday. Manager Joe Espada said he looked “really good” and would throw another bullpen session during the break.

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