Here is Pete Dougherty's scouting report of the Houston Texans' rushing defense based on interviews with coaches and scouts:
The Texans run coordinator Wade Phillips’ version of a 3-4 defense, which is a one-gap scheme that is much different than the Packers-Steelers two-gap 3-4s.
Phillips has his defensive linemen shoot gaps and try to blow up plays rather than tie up blockers, and he has one of the NFL’s emerging stars for that role in former Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt (6-5, 295). Watt is the best playmaker on a defense that ranks No. 3 in fewest yards allowed, No. 4 in fewest points allowed and No. 9 in fewest rushing yards allowed.
The other defensive end, Antonio Smith (6-4, 284), plays with a mean streak that rubs off on the rest of the defense.
The Texans suffered a huge loss Monday night when inside linebacker Brian Cushing (6-3, 255) sustained a season-ending knee injury. He was fast and physical, though his absence will be felt even more in pass coverage than against the run. Seventh-year pro Tim Dobbins (6-1, 236) replaces him.
Outside linebackers Brooks Reed (6-3, 257) and Connor Barwin (6-4, 268) play the run well.