Watch me Whit, then watch me JJ
Heading into Week 11, there is one player I don’t think has gotten the credit he deserves, so I’m going to dedicate this entire piece to him and the reasons to love him. He is Whitney Mercilus – outside linebacker for the Houston Texans.
I had been noticing it for a while, and thought it was only me. But last week I posted my thoughts on FB and got some very interesting feedback and quite a few likes, so I knew it wasn’t just me. Thankfully.
Back in May, the Texans signed Mercilus to a four-year contract extension worth $26 million (including $10.8 guaranteed, and a $5.25 million signing bonus), so Texans fans – not to mention the rest of the NFL – better get used to seeing his face. Mostly quarterbacks. And they should be worried.
Last week against Tennessee (though it was just Mettenberger…), the Texans tied a single-game franchise record w/ 7.0 sacks AS A TEAM. The Texans also recorded 7.0 sacks in 2011 against Jacksonville and 2005 against St. Louis.
Mettenberger was sacked on 18% of his dropbacks – the highest percentage in Texan history. And guess who had the most sacks in last weeks game? I’ll give you a hint – it wasn’t J.J. Watt although he jumps around and tries to take sole credit for a lot of the combined efforts (not saying I wouldn’t do the same, but…).
You guessed it – Mercilus was the one who tallied a career-high 3.5 sacks (J.J. still did a damn fine job with 2.5 takedowns). It’s teamwork guys. Last week, J.J. and Whitney became the first pair in Texans history to record at least 2 sacks each in a game.
Mercilus’ career-high 3.5 sacks is tied for second-most in a game in Texans history. (Connor Barwin, 4.0 at JAX, 11/27/11, and Mario Williams, 3.5 vs. DEN, 12/13/07.)
There’s no secret J.J. leads the team’s defense and pretty much the team and the entire city – the girlfriendless cover boy has 28 quarterback hits just the year (that’s more than the entire team combined). The next closest with QB hits for the year is Whitney with just 8.
So far this season, the Texans TFL (tackles for loss) are lead by Watt with 16, Mercilus with 10, then by Jadeveon Clowney with 4 and Christian Covington with 3.
The Texans run a three-man rotation at outside linebacker and it seems rather astounding that Mercilus is still fighting for his permanent spot against #1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, who seems to constantly be battling injuries. It’s like the Texans are trying to prove to the nation that Clowney was worth the #1 pick (with or without an injury) by keeping him there.
For a few reasons to love Whitney Mercilus off the field, just check out his inspiring and funny Twitter page, where he’s not afraid to show some personality and his love for the Lord.
In his fourth season, this could be his best yet. To make this a really standout season for #59, he only needs 2.0 sacks to set his single-season career-high, surpassing his previous high of 7.0 in 2013.
The Texans drafted Mercilus from Illinois as the 26th overall pick, where he led the nation in sacks per game (1.23) and fumbles forced per game (0.833) as a senior. His first season with the Texans (2012) was the year the team went 14-2 and were AFC South Champions.
Keep an eye out for great things by the Texans defense, specifically #59.