HOUSTON -- The top priority for the Houston Texans moving forward in 2021 is finding names that are franchise cornerstones. Has Jonathan Greenard done enough to prove his value?
The second-year defensive end has been on a roll since returning to practice in Week 3. After recording a sack in each of his first two games, collecting them in pairs is becoming a common theme on Sundays.
Last week against the Indianapolis Colts, Greenard recorded the team's lone two sacks. This week, Houston recorded four against Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray — two of which came from the vastly improved pass rusher.
"He is playing well, right now and he continues to play well," Texans coach David Culley said following the 31-5 loss. "He’s going to keep getting better, and better, and better and that group is going to end up coming with him as we go along.”
Greenard's first sack came in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Following a roughing the passer penalty against defensive tackle Maliek Collins, Greenard capitalized by taking down Murray for a loss of two yards.
Murray would miss tight end Zach Ertz on the ensuing play, leading to a 31-yard field goal from Matt Prater before halftime. Greenard would record his second sack for a loss of 10 on Arizona's third drive of the second half.
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He finished with four total tackles, two sacks and two tackles for losses. Murray, however, did enough damage to propel Arizona to its seventh consecutive win.
When asked, Greenard said that defending Murray was similar to playing a video and trying to tackle an opponent on the screen. It would be valid as the third-year pro threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns on the way to a win.
"We did our best to try and keep him in the pocket as much as possible, but, at the end of the day, he’s still going to make his plays,” Greenard said.
Last season, former Texans and current Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt led the way with five sacks. Greenard's two takedown day now his him leading the team with six in seven games.
The 6-foot-3 defensive end is not just quick, but also strong up the middle. In multiple cases, Greenard was able to bulldoze his way past offensive tackles on the inside snap rather than taking the edge.
Maybe the Texans are missing more than several pieces for a quick turnaround. Barring a complete collapse in the second half of the season, Greenard looks to be a rising name, and perhaps a name Houston sees as a valuable player for the future.