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By: Mark Lane
The Houston Texans are relevant. The only question now is how long Houston will be able to keep up the momentum.
Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is a large reason why the Texans no longer carry the countenance of a rebuild. The No. 2 overall pick is making his case to be, not only Offensive Rookie of the Year, but possibly NFL MVP.
According to Doug Farrar from the Touchdown Wire, who put together a comprehensive look at the Texans beyond the meteoric rise of Stroud, there are a myriad of reasons Houston is 5-4. One particular reason involves the play of the linebacking corps and secondary.
The biggest beneficiary of Ryans’ tutelage at that position has been Blake Cashman, a 2019 fifth-round pick for the New York Jets who is enjoying his best season by far. Cashman can mix it up as a pass-rusher and as a run defender, but in today’s NFL, you want linebackers who can cover, and Cashman has found the key to that. On this interception of Trevor Lawrence in Week 3, he read Lawrence through the progression, and had the answers to the test when Lawrence tried to hit Jamal Agnew on this intermediate crosser.
Veteran Steven Nelson has been Houston’s best cornerback this season, allowing 23 catches on 33 targets for 371 yards, 67 yards after the catch, three interceptions, two pass breakups, one touchdown, and an opponent passer rating of 79.2. Nobody in this cornerback group is a pure shutdown guy just yet, but Nelson is a sticky match defender, as he showed on this crosser interception against the Baltimore Ravens and receiver Zay Flowers in Week 1.
Ryans brought do-it-all safety Jimmie Ward from San Francisco as an experienced leader, and Ward has played well, but the guy to watch is Jalen Pitre, the 2022 second-round pick out of Baylor who can win all over the defense. Pitre can line up in the deep third, the box, and the slot with equal aplomb. And as a blitzer? Well, ask Bryce Young what Pitre can do off the edge.
The Texans get back in action in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Central Time from NRG Stadium.
Originally posted on Texans Wire