The Houston Texans are in the midst of experiencing yet another hapless and fruitless season. Sunday's largely uninspiring performance against the Los Angeles Rams dropped the Texans to 1-7 on the year. The Deshaun Watson legal saga is destined to carry itself over into this coming offseason and the future of the franchise remains very much in disarray.
That doesn't necessarily mean that it's all bad in Houston, however. A defensive star in the making has revealed himself in recent weeks in Jonathan Greenard, even if the national pundits are paying little attention to his impressive recent performances. Through just six appearances, the former Louisville and Florida standout has compiled an astounding seven sacks and trails just six defensive players for the league-lead in that metric. It becomes even more impressive when you take into account that Greenard missed the first two games of the season.
General manager Nick Caserio has more than doubled down on his unwavering faith in the continued development of Greenard in recent weeks. The Texans mutually parted ways with veteran pass rusher Whitney Mercilus just weeks ago, leaving Greenard behind as the clear-cut star of their current defensive front. If we take our case study back all the way to the offseason, the departure of the Canton-bound J.J. Watt began a defensive changing of the guard in Houston, and Greenard currently projects as the player most likely to usher this once-feared defensive line into a promising new era.
Opportunities to grow and expand your wings often serve as half the battle for a young player that is still finding his way in the league, and the early returns on Greenard’s sophomore season are incredibly encouraging on that front. Greenard has seen 108 snaps as a pass rusher this season, via Pro Football Focus, and has converted those chances into an abundance of sacks and quarterback pressures. Greenard is recording a sack for every 13.7 pass-rushing snaps he's on the field for, which qualifies as the best rate in the league of all pass rushers that have totaled a minimum of 50 pass-rushing snaps, via Houston's public relations department.
Greenard's early-season production has hardly come as a surprise to those of us who studied him in-depth throughout his final collegiate season at Florida. Greenard recorded a career-high 10 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss in his lone season as a Gator. On tape, Greenard showcased the ability to play as a calculated pass rusher when attacking the pocket. As a run defender, Greenard possesses the ability to control the action at the point of attack. It’s a versatile skill set that has thus far come together beautifully in 2021.
Houston, unfortunately, has nothing to play for down the stretch and would be wise to utilize the remaining games on their schedule as an opportunity to further the development of any young stars they identify as vital pieces of their future. Greenard’s current form indicates he is worthy of such treatment.