The Houston Texans have a quarterback who once led the league in passing yards, a running back who once led the league in rushing yards and a wideout who twice led the league in receiving yards. You could be forgiven, then, for crediting the team's 4-0 start to Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. While those men are playing well, however, the Texans' perfect record has mostly been driven by a dominant defense, and that defense has in turn been driven by J.J. Watt, a runaway leader for defensive player of the year one month into the season.
The Texans are second in the league in total defense, and first overall in scoring defense, giving up only 14.0 points per game. Football Outsiders' advanced stats paint a similar picture. Through four games, the Texans have the league's top defense overall, as well as the best defense against the pass. (Editor's note: As of Sunday night, Chicago actually outranks Houston in both overall defense and pass defense, but the Bears have played only three games.) Opponents are completing less than 53 percent of their passes against Houston, for only 6.0 yards per attempt, and have been sacked 13 times. The Texans rank in the top five in each of those categories.
Watt is, unquestionably, Houston's brightest star on that side of the ball. A first-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2011, Watt was a starter as soon as he signed his Texans contract. He totaled 5.5 sacks as a rookie while also effectively defending the run.