The Texans’ defensive line trio were shining points in the loss to the Panthers
HOUSTON – When the Houston Texans faced the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, there wasn’t much positivity to be taken from the 24-9 loss at NRG Stadium. But the glowing play from the defensive line has become one of the few assessments the Texans could rely on to move forward.
The first four were the main reason the Texans had the opportunity to cause an absurd upheaval against the Panthers until the end of the fourth quarter. They put pressure on Sam Darnold all night, resulting in three sacks – two of which were striptease escapees recovered by Carolina.
After the game, Darnold attributed his sacks to poor decision making for holding the ball too long. But the Texans’ ability to get past the quarterback is a testament to the improvement in the defensive front.
“Our defensive line played very, very hard,” said coach David Culley. “They put so much pressure on him [Sam Darnold] that we ended up having a few breakaways that they created. If we had been able to get them, we obviously hadn’t had any turnovers, neither of us – but it could have been a game-changer. It just hasn’t happened to us and that’s football.
The Texans had several strengths on their defensive front against the Panthers, but none more than Ross Blacklock, Jonathan Greenard and Jacob Martin.
The trio of young linemen brought explosiveness and agility to Houston’s top four. Their performance against Carolina came as no surprise to Culley, who said he watched Blacklock, Greenard and Martin excel in their pass rush every day in practice.
Blacklock and Greenard scored both strip sacks on Darnold for a combined loss of 11 yards in the second quarter. It was Blacklock’s first career sack, while Greenard added four career best tackles (two solo hits) on his debut for the Texans. Martin finished the night with three tackles, one tackle for loss.
“The pass race was definitely better this week,” said Blacklock. “Guys have a lot of action. We are proud that the d-line room is productive in any way. Thursday night was good, but we could always be better.
The only negative Culley saw in his defensive line was the number of explosive plays they gave up against the Panthers. Culley said the defensive front – and all defense – needs to do a better job of execution when they have their opposition on 2nd and long and 3rd and long.
According to Culley, Carolina recorded eight explosive games on offense while the Texans had three. He called uneven production a “tough sledge.”
But that’s an issue Culley is set to address with Blacklock playing, Greenard and Martin leading the defensive front with more snaps going forward.
“I just wanted to have more reps – that was a great thing,” Greenard said. “But the team, just playing with the team and feeding off of them and how we play with each other, I think it makes our job easier from the start to make more games and we’re more at. comfortable when they know what we are doing. “
“I think we just had this full offseason with OTAs and stuff like that, it helped us to fit in well and understand our trends and play with each other, so I think that’s a true testament to how we nourish each other. “