Two huge plays for the Texans linebacker leads the day on defense

Player of the game: Mercilus' huge day helps Texans to sloppy 13-12 win

Zach Tarrant/

When the Houston Texans needed a play the most on defense, Whitney Mercilus was there.

With both teams stalling out on offense drive after drive the Texans had the Jaguars pinned deep in their own territory. As rookie Gardner Minshew dropped back to pass Mercilus went almost untouched after hitting the Jaguars tackle with a spin move. The ball squirted away where J.J. Watt recovered it.

"Now I get to do what I do best and tee it up," said Whitney Mercilus after the game.

It is the first time he has had three sacks in the first two games. It is the seventh time in his career Mercilus has had at least two sacks in a two game stretch.

"I think our guys rushed the passer hard," Bill O'Brien said after the game.

O'Brien praised Minshew's mobility and toughness against the Texans defense. Mercilus had equal praise for the Jaguars rookie.

It was the second time Mercilus had got home and caused a fumble for the Texans. Earlier in the day he beat his man again and engulfed Minshew causing a fumble. The Jaguars used extra help a couple of time on Mercilus and though his only stats came on those two tackles, he had quite the effect on the game.

Mercilus has been a terror and the best pass rusher on the team since returning to his natural position rushing the passer. Last week he had a key interception for the defense. Through two games he has been the defensive MVP for the team.

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Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans lost again as their road game ineptitude continues. Former Texans stars DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt helped the Cardinals to the 31-5 victory.

1. The lack of talent is getting exposed earlier and earlier each week. The Texans have seen games slip away faster and faster from them each week. The team is overmatched almost everywhere.

2. Penalties remain a problem for the Texans. It seems like clockwork the team gets an illegal motion or illegal formation each week. Jordan Akins torpedoed a drive with a chop block. Max Scharping erased a positive play with a hold.

3. Davis Mills had some solid moments, but again, this team isn't good. It is hard to assess Mills with this team. He's making quicker decisions but he doesn't have the time or the players to make big plays.

4. The offensive line stinks. The interior of the line is still a mess and with Laremy Tunsil down the edges find themselves shaky as well. The running backs don't block well. The blocking tight ends don't block well. It is bad football in what was supposed to be a much-improved unit.

5. Desmond King was the best returner in the preseason. The team elected to give Andre Roberts an opportunity for a few games, but with his departure, the duties went to King. King is the most successful returner the Texans have had in a long while. Yes, it is that clear after just one game.

6. Max Scharping was benched in favor of Justin McCray. McCray produced similar levels of success. Scharping was benched last year for a journey-man veteran as well. The former second-round pick isn't getting it done.

7. Speaking of former second-round picks, Lonnie Johnson had an interception. That was the highlight of his day. Otherwise, Johnson frequently has me asking "what is Lonnie Johnson doing?" The former second-round pick at cornerback has been less than impressive at safety. Johnson seems to frequently be out of position or making the wrong choice in coverage.

8. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid day against the team that traded him away. Hopkins hauled in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. After he scored, Hopkins looked to bring his hands together and mimic a prayer motion. I don't anticipate this was a nod to Arian Foster but perhaps could this have been about Jack Easterby?

9. The Texans had some sacks, but little of that action came when the game was close. Jonathan Greenard added two sacks to his total. The success Greenard is having is frustrating when you consider he couldn't get on the field last season. Charles Omenihu returned to action and had some pressures for the defense.

10. During the game reports surfaced that the Panthers might be interested in trading for Deshaun Watson. It was also reported by the Houston Chronicle Watson had vetoed a trade to Philadelphia, so the Eagles will not be involved in the Watson sweepstakes. The Panthers can only trade two first-round picks. The Miami Dolphins have three first-round picks they can trade for Deshaun Watson.

11. The Texans decided on a "culture" head coach in David Culley. His team has looked lifeless on the road. While the Texans took their beating, the Lions gave it their all against a good Rams team. Detroit is winless, but they play harder and better than the Texans. It grows clearer each week "culture" is meaningless if the team can't win.

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