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Friday, August 27, 2010
Scouts Inc.: Texans' pass-rush options

By Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

Do the Houston Texans have legitimate pass-rushing options to help balance things out for Mario Williams?

Looking at this situation through the eyes of the Texans, the key to their success is being able to defeat and supplant the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South. That task is easier said than done, of course. But a huge key is creating consistent and threatening pressure on Peyton Manning.

Okoye
The Texans need Amobi Okoye, who has eight career sacks, to get more pressure on opposing QBs.
I have no complaints at all with Williams. He is a superstar who probably is only getting better, which is frightening. He is an even better player than his statistics and highlights would suggest. Every pass protection scheme that Houston faces is designed to eliminate the damage that Williams can do. But he isn’t what we need to discuss here.

What the Texans need is to create a push despite all the attention that Williams receives. On passing downs, if Houston moves Antonio Smith inside next to Amobi Okoye, that might present a formidable enough interior presence to make a passer like Manning move off his spot.

Okoye remains very young and is in a position to really take a step forward this season. It is important that he does so. He needs to show more. Although he was the Texans' first-round pick in 2007, amazingly, Okoye is only 23 years old. He has a ton of ability.

Smith is a solid base end opposite Williams on early downs, but he isn’t the ideal pass-rusher to thrive in one-on-one situations off the edge. But, as an inside player on passing downs, Smith is more than adequate. Still, Smith is a pretty solid all-around player and quite valuable.

With Smith on the inside, Connor Barwin will line up opposite Williams. Like Okoye (and many Texans), Barwin is young and extremely talented. He will turn 24 in October. A step forward seems likely for this ultra-athletic player who spent a portion of his University of Cincinnati career playing tight end. He is an extreme work-in-progress, but his ceiling as a pass-rusher is very high.

In conclusion, we don’t know for sure that Houston has enough pass rush. But the potential is certainly there. Still, maybe coaxing a guy like Aaron Schobel out of retirement for spot duty wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.