J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg thatThe Houston Texans lost more than just a game on Sunday night, they lost two of their most prominent defensive players for the rest of the season. J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus  are two of the best players on the Texans defense and it will have catastrophic consequences for a defensive unit that has underperformed all season long.

J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg that has cut yet another season from Watt short. Watt missed 13 games last season with a herniated disc in his back and will miss 11 games this season with this injury. Watt was unable to perform up to the level that was expected of him this season as he was unable to record a single sack.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Game Game Def Def Def Def Def Fumb Fumb Fumb Fumb Sack Sack Sack
Year Age Tm G GS Int Yds TD Lng PD FF FR Yds TD Sk Tkl Ast AV
2011 22 HOU 16 16 0 0 0 0 4 0 2 2 0 5.5 48 8 10
2012*+ 23 HOU 16 16 0 0 0 0 16 4 2 7 0 20.5 69 12 19
2013*+ 24 HOU 16 16 0 0 0 0 7 4 2 0 0 10.5 65 15 16
2014*+ 25 HOU 16 16 1 80 1 80 10 4 5 59 1 20.5 59 19 22
2015*+ 26 HOU 16 16 0 0 0 0 8 3 1 0 0 17.5 57 19 21
2016 27 HOU 3 3 0 1 0 0 1.5 1 7 2
2017 28 HOU 5 5 0 0 0 0 2 11 4
Care Care 88 88 1 80 1 80 47 15 13 68 1 76.0 310 84 90

While Watt has provided a boost to their run defense, he has been unable to contribute to the Texans pass rush. This is due to the injuries that Watt has suffered over the past two seasons. It is not easy for any player to recover from these type of injuries and it is difficult to expect Watt to return to his former form next season after fully recovering.

Whitney Mercilus suffered a torn pectoral muscle and is also out for the season. The absence of Merilus will only make the Texans defensive situation worse. While he is not as big of a name as J.J. Watt, Mercilus is just as capable of changing a game on the defensive side of the ball.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Game Game Def Fumb Fumb Fumb Fumb Sack Sack Sack
Year Age Tm G GS PD FF Fmb FR Yds Sk Tkl Ast AV
2012 22 HOU 16 4 1 2 0 1 0 6.0 15 3 3
2013 23 HOU 16 16 7.0 33 14 7
2014 24 HOU 15 13 2 0 0 0 5.0 31 19 7
2015 25 HOU 16 11 2 1 0 2 5 12.0 32 18 8
2016 26 HOU 15 15 1 1 0 4 7 7.5 36 17 13
2017 27 HOU 5 5 1 0 0 0 1.0 9 1
Care Care 83 64 4 7 0 7 12 38.5 156 72 38

Whitney Mercilus only recorded a single sack this season, a far cry away from his previous two seasons when he totaled 19.5 sacks. Mercilus is fully capable of being the main pass rusher on any defense and would have been depended on with the absence of Watt. Now without both of Mercilus and Watt the defense will only continue to underachieve.

The pass rush will now be dependent on Jadeveon Clowney to be a force. Unfortunately without Watt and Mercilus more attention will be paid to Clowney which will make it more difficult for Clowney to make plays.  The Houston defense will still have issues getting to the opposing quarterback and it will not get any easier without Watt and Mercilus to help make plays. Defensively the Houston Texans could become one of the worst units in the league without their best pass rushers. The best Houston can hope for is to outscore the other team to remain competitive in games, a task that will not come easy for a sub-par defense.