NFL

Texans Super Bowl Hopes Might Rest on Jadeveon Clowney’s Shoulders

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This is the 15h season in Houston Texans history and last year was only their third time reaching the postseason. However, it was a moment they’d probably like to forget, as the Kansas City Chiefs embarrassed them to the tune of 30-0.

Nonetheless, expectations are at an all-time high for Bill O’Brien’s ball club. 

“I think the expectations in Houston are always going to be high,” O’Brien stressed. “I think that’s what the fan base demands and rightfully so. I think that the fan base deserves a winner here, a big-time winner. That’s one of our motivations. ”

O’Brien entered a very tough spot two years ago, as the Texans were fresh off a (2-14) campaign, but during his first two seasons, he’s guided Houston to back-to-back (9-7) seasons.  While Houston is better off with O’Brien, the sideline general knows they have greater potential moving forward.

“We understand that 9-7 is not the bar,” O’Brien said. “We feel like we’ve made some really good strides here in the past two years with our football team. We’ve overcome some adversity. We have a mentally tough team. We’ve got a bunch of great guys in that locker room but we know that the 9-7 bar is too low.”

With the additions of Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller, the belief is that Houston’s offense will experience major improvement, which will be tremendously welcomed.

A season ago, Houston finished 21st with 21.2 points per game.

Although injuries hindered Arian Foster during his final season in Houston, what he did during his tenure there will be difficult for free agent acquisition Miller to duplicate.  He doesn’t have to be as good as Foster, especially if Osweiler goes on to earn every penny general manager Rick Smith is paying him.

Having said that, whether Osweiler turns out to be a star or not won’t matter if former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney takes his game to the next level.  Throughout his young career, Clowney has been slowed down by injuries, even though he played in 13 games last year, in which he totaled only 4.5 sacks.

Sure, Houston’s defense was elite in 2015, but imagine how dominant it would be if Clowney lives up to expectations?

We already know how dominant J.J. Watt is, but if Clowney were to get anywhere close to Watt’s level of play, opposing offensive lines wouldn’t know who to double-team.

Often times, we see offensive coordinators throw two guys at Watt because they don’t fear anyone else upfront, which wouldn’t be the case if Clowney demands constant attention.  It seems that Clowney is finally completely healthy and ready to contribute and it’s making a difference.

Instead of playing outside linebacker, Clowney was asked to put his hand on the ground at defensive end and he flourished.

“Whatever they want me to do,” Clowney stated. “I’m down there fighting with 350-pound linemen. It isn’t fun, but you have to do your job, go out there, compete and do extra.

“It’s a lot easier than being an outside linebacker. You just listen to the call, move to the left or the right a couple of steps and get off the ball, stay in your gap.”

As the old saying goes, ‘defenses wins championships’ and if you’re not a believer, look no further than the reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

Denver finished in the bottom half of the league in points per game at 22.2, while Peyton Manning experienced the worst season of his career.  The future Hall of Famer had an awful touchdown to interception ratio of 9:17, but Denver’s dominant defense was able to overcome that.

If Clowney plays like he’s capable of, don’t be surprised if Houston has a similar year on the defensive side of the ball.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.