Your Houston Texans are proud owners of the worst defense in NFL history (through Week 10) and, as such, Mario Williams has spent the season taking plenty of heat from the fans. He disappears in games, he only plays hard when he wants to, blah blah blah.
Consider this your reminder that Mario Williams is still a damn good player.
Mario Williams has been on the injury report for most of the past two seasons. This year, he's battling through a hip injury, and last year, he played with essentially one arm. Despite this, he has six sacks this year, and is on pace to get back to the lofty standards we expect from Mario in that column--double digits.
According to Football Outsiders' charting numbers, Williams has racked up an average of 14 QB hits the past two seasons, to go with an average of 25 hurries. This season, through 8 games, I have charted Williams to have gotten 24 hurries to go along with his six sacks. He's also accumulated 8 QB hits already and is well on pace to match his typical season there as well.
Williams, along with Antonio Smith, have both been part of an extremely underrated pass rush this year. The Texans continue to find ways to scheme themselves out of sacks, and because of that, the Texans are just barely in the bottom ten of Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate numbers. But make no mistake: These two are showing up and making plays every week.
Poor schemes and poor back-seven talent have combined to create a system where only when the Texans get a hurry can the defense succeed. When the Texans don't get that hurry, it's very evident. Not because fans are focusing on Williams and Smith, but because the only way this defense ever gets off the field is if they actually get a pass rush. Thus, an inappropriate amount of the blame this season has gone to the team's best defenders for what happens when they don't show up, simply because they are the only prayers the Texans defense has. I'm not saying Williams has been a dominant force on every play, nor that he has never taken a play off, but the rush of certain Chronicle-based newspaper writers to frame him as the cause for this disaster is silly.
For continuing to put up solid pass rush numbers in the face of pain, a sieve-like defensive secondary, and a scheme that is tailor-made to get stomped on three step drops and screens, Mario Williams has earned the right to say that he has Powered Through.