Texans Linebackers Among Best In NFL

How well the versatile Texans LBs play Sunday could have a major impact on the Patriots’ defense

Brandon Scott
November 29, 2019 - 1:05 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- The Texans have one of the league’s best inside linebacker tandems in Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham, who has emerged as one of the game’s top tacklers.

Only nine players have more tackles than Cunningham (95). 

McKinney, who has the most tackles in the AFC since 2016, established himself as a Pro Bowl player in 2018

He is second on the team in tackles behind Cunningham with 79.

On the outside, Whitney Mercilus and Brennan Scarlett have a combined nine sacks and six forced fumbles. 

NFL Network analyst and former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest was on In The Loop earlier in the week (listen at 20:20 mark for McGinest interview)

McGinest, who won three Super Bowls for the Patriots under current Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, had this to say about the Texans’ linebackers:

“They’ve got some really good players at the linebacker position. I think they’re one of the best linebacking corps in the league and they’re versatile. You could do a lot with them. You see these guys in coverage, especially Cunningham. You see them covering and they’re involved in the blitz game, getting pressure on the quarterback. 

“Cunningham’s been doing a phenomenal job. He’s all over the place. He plays well in space. Romeo Crennel understands. He changed our jobs weekly. He let us do multiple things during a football game so teams couldn’t get a beat on us doing one particular thing. When you’ve got guys that’s versatile and athletic, you can do that. And this is what this linebacking corps is.”

They have a tough assignment against Tom Brady’s Patriots on Sunday night. 

The Patriots passing game isn’t what it’s been in the past, but still ranks eighth in passing yards per game. 

Their running game is only gaining 3.35 yards per carry, but they manage to hold the ball for 32:15 on average, fourth-best in the league. 

How well the versatile Texans linebackers play Sunday could have a major impact on the Patriots’ defense. 

“The inside backers are playing as good as anybody in the league,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “I mean, B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney) and Zach (Cunningham) are really having good years. They’re very active, they're very physical, very athletic. Both are a little bit different in what they do, but – and I think that's really important in this game. Those guys really just need to play very disciplined, play very well, tackle well, fit the runs well. That'll be a big part of the game. But those guys are – they're having really good years.”

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