PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS AND THE TEXANS

Texans defense boasts some of NFL's Best

Kareem Jackson is having a monster year. Houston Texans/Facebook

Pro Football Focus grades each individual player's performance and assigns them a grade. All 32 teams use Pro Football Focus. 

Usually each week we will take a look at some of the good and bad from the Texans and a look at the upcoming opponent as well. With the bye week here will we look at Texans players to this point in the season. They also do great fantasy analysis and draft coverage as well. Stats are for the previous game unless otherwise noted. You can join Pro Football Focus here

Kareem Jackson - 90.1 defensive grade

Kareem Jackson is the third best defensive back by grading when accounting for playing for 50 percent of the team's snaps. He's the eighth best defender in all of football when including all players who have played 50 percent of their team's snaps. That's incredible when you think about the conversations about moving on from him this offseason. He has taken to his new role at safety well and he has had to fill in at cornerback a ton but played well. His run defense is astonishing and he's handled coverage well this year. 

J.J. Watt - 90.1 defensive grade

He's back. He's tied with teammate Kareem Jackson as the eighth best defender in football. Watt is tearing through defenses and has an average of a sack per game which is insane when you think how far removed he is from his healthy former self that was Defensive Player of the Year. He's a monster. His run defense is among some of the best numbers in his career and 

Justin Reid - 74.8 defensive grade

Justin Reid is the seventh rated rookie overall for defenders who have played 50 percent or more of their snaps. Let that sink in. Reid has six players playing regularly better than him on defense from this rookie class. That's it. None of them were drafted behind him they were all picks in the first or second round. That's an eye-popping number. He's gotten better and better too playing more snaps and posting three of his four best grades the past three weeks. Reid has been a true steal for the Texans and it's scary to think he may be getting better. Oh, and Reid has the best tackling grade in all of football.

Deshaun Watson - 79.8 passing grade

The Texans quarterback checks in at 15th in the NFL. It makes sense considering all he has dealt with so far this season. His offensive line struggled mightily and then he was injured. He's gotten going lately though. Two of his top three grades in overall offense and passing have come in the past two weeks and with the bye coming and a new wideout to get used to Watson should be back to his improving ways against Washington. He's on his way to being a dynamic force again. 

DeAndre Hopkins - 90.9 receiving grade

The second best grade in football for players that actually play most of the snaps for their team. He's only behind Michael Thomas of the Saints but Hopkins has no drops to Thomas' three drops so let's call Hopkins the best in football. He's playing like it. No one has slowed him and even with the shaky offensive line to start the season he's shown an ability to really blow up. He is tied for second in touchdowns and third in yards and he's just spectacular and getting better. The Texans have a bonafide superstar in Hopkins and he plays like it every week. 

As always, you can join Pro Football Focus here

J.J. Watt is headed for illustrious but strange company

Maximize opportunity before Watt gets wasted

Houstontexans.com

Thursday the reality of what J.J. Watt is facing really hit me. The Houston Chronicle reported Watt had a minor offseason knee surgery. The last three years prove he's far from immortal, though the once incredible career is back on track. For how long, no one knows. Then I finally realized it.

J.J. Watt is on pace to be the greatest defensive player to never play for a conference championship or a Super Bowl.

I started digging into the lists of the all-time great defenders and the best pass rushers in the game's history. Most of the players who would easily be considered a great on defense have at the very least won a Lombardi. If they haven't won the big trophy they've either played or been one game away.

Two names stick out on the all-time greats list. Deacon Jones played three postseason games all in the divisional round. Dick Butkus never played in the postseason. You have to go to 24th all-time in sacks, Pat Swilling with 107.5, to find a sack leader who hasn't at least played in a conference championship or better.

It's a line on almost every great's resume and Watt's missing it.

Watt's only 30 sacks away from the top 20 in career sacks. His three defensive player of the year awards in four years cemented an era of dominance rarely matched in NFL history. He will put on the gold jacket one day. It would be bittersweet to find himself among those greats having never played in a game with that level of importance.

Unless he plays in one.

Brian Gaine and Bill O'Brien can't mess this up or they will be accessories to a sports crime: cementing Watt's place as the all-time great without a huge game to his name. The Texans enter one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. They have to find a way to protect Deshaun Watson as he's the key to making sure Watt's schedule pushes beyond 16 games each year. It's no easy task, but go do it. Make the defense's job just a little easier with some powerful offense.

Give Watt and company just a second more too with better secondary play. Help him out with a better pass rush next to him and not just opposite him. There's so many things the Texans have to get right with their massive cap space and three picks in the top two rounds.

It won't all be Gaine and O'Brien's fault if they don't do it, however they have a chance, with Watson and the rest of this team, to make sure a truly significant game appears on the schedule for Watt. Just one conference championship appearance, then, who knows. Maybe the big one and the Lombardi trophy.

Now here's a thought that will shake all Texans fans.

If the Texans don't nail it this offseason and show the next few seasons they're not legit threats, maybe Watt fills the hole in his distinguished career elsewhere. Reggie White left in his 30's. DeMarcus Ware found glory with the Broncos after a long Cowboys career. It isn't unheard of to see one franchise's legend don another team's colors.

I'm not sure what would hurt Texans fans more. Knowing Watt never played in the biggest games with the Texans or seeing him get to one of those games with another team. It's the hope neither of those things happen. There are almost never happy endings in football, but Watt's story deserves one or more of those chapters.

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