On The Beat: Talking defensive struggles, Gilmore-Hopkins & Texans’ fear of the Patriots with John McClain

(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Every week, we up our prep on the Patriots’ next opponent with our “5 questions…” feature where we check in with a writer who covers New England’s next opponent. For this week’s game against the Texans, we talk with The General, John McClain, the longtime Texans beat writer for the Houston Chronicle. Check him out on Twitter here. Thanks to The General for his time.


1. General … what’s going on with that Texans defense? It looks like we're a long way from the units of the past.

The defense misses JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Through nine games, the run defense was terrific, third with 84.1 yards a game. They've plummeted to 17th (108) after giving up 431 to the Ravens and Colts in the last two games. Lamar Jackson had a lot to do with that, of course. The Colts ran 39 times to get their yards on the ground. They can't generate a pass rush without Watt and Clowney. Whitney Mercilus started strong as a pass rusher but has faded getting sacks. The linemen aren't pass rushers. That'll be their priority in the draft. The secondary has been decimated by injuries, causing them to trade for Gareon Conley and claim Vernon Hargreaves. Courtney Roby and Lonnie Johnson Jr. are supposed to play in this game, giving them a full set of corners for the first time since early in the season. Without a pass rush, the secondary has been bombarded by good QBs. Since Tom Brady has thrown eight TD passes in the last two games against the Texans, I expect him to torch them.

2. Give me an assessment of where Deshaun Watson is right now.