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Notes on J.J. Watt, NFL Defensive Player of the Year

Posted by Nick Scurfield on February 2, 2013 – 8:59 pm

J.J. Watt Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year on Saturday, becoming the first Texans player to win any NFL player of the year honors in the team’s 11-year history. The second-year defensive end from Wisconsin led the NFL with 20.5 sacks and set an NFL record for a defensive lineman with 16 passes defensed in 2012.

Watt’s season was covered in-depth in the press release linked to above. Here are a few more notes about his accomplishment:

-          At 23 years old, Watt is the second-youngest player ever to win the award. Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was 22 when he won it with the New York Giants in 1981.

-          Watt is the first player to win the award in his second season in the NFL. Taylor is the only one who did it sooner, winning as a rookie in 1981. Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert won the award after his third season in 1976.

-          Of the 34 players who won the award before Watt, 13 are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ten of the other 21 previous winners are not yet eligible for induction (players must be retired for at least four years before being eligible for the Hall).

-          Watt is the eighth active player with an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, joining Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Brian Urlacher, James Harrison, Charles Woodson, Troy Polamalu and Terrell Suggs. Lewis has announced that he will retire after tomorrow’s Super Bowl, so Watt will likely be one of seven active Defensive Player of the Year winners in NFL next season.

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Phillips named Sporting News Coordinator of Year

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 27, 2012 – 6:03 pm

Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is the 2011 Sporting News Coordinator of the Year.

Phillips received 15 votes from a panel of 32 NFL coaches and executives, ousting 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (6 votes) and Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano (4).

In his first season in Houston, Phillips improved the Texans’ defense by 91.2 yards per game, the third-biggest turnaround in modern NFL history. The Texans ranked second in yards allowed (285.7/game) after ranking 30th (376.9) in 2010. They ranked third against the pass (189.7) after ranking 32nd in 2010 (267.5, seventh-worst  in NFL history). They were fourth against the run (96.0) and fourth in scoring (17.4 points/game), up from 13th (109.4) and 29th (26.7) in those categories.

Phillips, 64, accomplished all of that despite having a lockout-abbreviated offseason in which to convert the Texans from a 4-3 to a 3-4. The Texans also set a team record with 45 sacks and had 27 takeaways, nine more than in 2010.

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Brisiel one of five Texans on All-Joe team

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 27, 2012 – 11:06 am

Texans right guard Mike Brisiel has been named the captain of USA Today’s 20th annual All-Joe Team, which “celebrates first-rate players who receive second-rate recognition.”

Here’s some of what USA Today’s Nate Davis wrote about the gritty, unassuming fourth-year lineman from Colorado State:

“He barely registered a blip despite playing two postseason games for the Texans not four weeks after breaking his right fibula, one of two weight-bearing bones in the lower leg.

“Let us be more specific. Brisiel had a player roll up the back of his right leg — a nightmare scenario for any offensive lineman while they’re engaged in a block — during an Oct. 9 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Brisiel played the next nine weeks with what he called a “hot spot” in his leg until it finally cracked Dec. 11 at Cincinnati.

“Again, let us be more specific. Brisiel broke the bone early on against the Bengals but finished the game, the one that clinched the first-ever playoff berth for the Texans. The next day, he needed six screws and a plate surgically implanted to stabilize the leg.”

Four other Texans made the All-Joe Team: running back Ben Tate, left tackle Duane Brown, defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Connor Barwin. Players are eligible for the squad only if they have never been named to the Pro Bowl.

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Foster finishes third in offensive player of the year voting

Posted by Nick Scurfield on February 2, 2011 – 9:31 am

Texans running back Arian Foster finished third in voting for The Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year award, which went Tuesday to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady won the award with 21 of 50 votes from a nationwide panel of NFL media members. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was second with 11 votes. Foster had seven votes, the most by any non-quarterback, after leading the league in rushing yards (1,616), yards from scrimmage (2,220), rushing touchdowns (16) and total touchdowns (18) this season.

Also receiving votes were San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (5), Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (2), Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (2) and Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson (2).

Foster was named AP first-team All-Pro after the season and started for the AFC in the 2011 Pro Bowl.

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Vote for Foster for FedEx award

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 25, 2011 – 12:57 pm

Voting for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year award ends this Friday, which means you only have three days left to stuff the ballots for Texans running back Arian Foster.

Foster is one of three nominees for the award along with Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles and Atlanta’s Michael Turner. He led the league with 1,616 rushing yards, 2,220 yards from scrimmage, 16 rushing touchdowns and 18 total touchdowns in 2010, his second season in the NFL after going undrafted out of Tennessee.

Foster will start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl on Sunday. He has been selected to every major All-NFL team since the end of the season, including the Associated Press All-Pro Team, Sporting News All-Pro Team and the Pro Football Weekly/PFWA All-NFL Team.

Voting for the FedEx award ends Friday at 8 p.m. CT. The winner will be announced at a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 3 p.m. CT, at the Super Bowl XLV media center in Dallas.

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Foster, Leach earn All-Pro honors

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 24, 2011 – 3:15 pm

Texans running back Arian Foster and fullback Vonta Leach have been named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press, one of the highest individual honors in professional football.

Foster, the league rushing champ, and Leach, Foster’s lead blocker, are both first-time All-Pros. The team is selected by a national panel of 50 media members who cover the NFL.

The Texans are one of only two teams, along with the New England Patriots, to have two offensive players on the All-Pro Team. Running backs coach Chick Harris is the only position coach in the league with two players on the team.

Foster, Leach and Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson also were selected to play in the Pro Bowl, although Johnson pulled out of the game because of an ankle injury. Foster and Johnson were named to the 2010 Sporting News All-Pro Team, and Foster was named to the Pro Football Weekly/PFWA All-Pro Team.

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PFW/PFWA: Foster is Most Improved

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 21, 2011 – 4:44 pm

Texans running back Arian Foster has been named the 2010 Most Improved Player of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America and Pro Football Weekly.

As Mike Wilkening of PFW notes, there were 19 running backs drafted in 2009. Foster wasn’t one of them. Yet he earned a place on the Texans’ practice squad, then on the active roster late in his rookie season.

This season, Foster earned the Texans’ starting job in training camp and never looked back. He wound up with the league rushing title after piling up a franchise-record 1,616 yards.

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Seven Texans named All-AFC South

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 21, 2011 – 10:28 am

Seven Texans players earned a spot on ESPN.com’s All-AFC South team, unveiled yesterday by division blogger Paul Kuharsky.

Kuharsky selected six Texans offensive players and one defensive player. The Pro Bowl trio of running back Arian Foster, wide receiver Andre Johnson and fullback Vonta Leach was joined on the team by three offensive linemen: center Chris Myers, left guard Wade Smith and right tackle Eric Winston. Kuharsky called Myers “one of the divison’s most underrated players.”

The lone Texans defensive player to earn All-AFC South honors was Brian Cushing at outside linebacker. Wrote Kuharsky:

“[Cushing] was not nearly as good as he was as a rookie, but was still better than other outside guys in the division by a solid notch. I didn’t love him, but scouts I talked to said he’s worthy.”

The Texans tied division champion Indianapolis for the highest number of players on the team.

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