John McClain of the Houston Chronicle Tweeted an interesting observation about the Texans' upcoming 2012 schedule that might cast the record setting 2011 defense in a little bit of doubt:
Texans play 4 QBs they didn't play last year: Manning, Brady, Rodgers and Stafford. They'll challenge 2nd-ranked def.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) April 16, 2012
Houston finished with the league's best total defense (263.5 yards a game, almost 60 yards better than No. 2 Baltimore) and second in passing defense (182 yards per game), but did so in a season that featured no Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, a rookie quarterback in Jacksonville and a platoon of Matt Hasselbeck and rookie Jake Locker in Tennessee.
Combine a weak passing division with a little bit of scheduling luck - beating a Raiders team pre-Carson Palmer, picking on Chad Henne in Miami - and the stats seem a little padded. On the other hand, this is the same defense that outright nullified Ben Roethlisberger and forced two interceptions and 23 incompletions from Matt Ryan.
But Drew Brees, arguably the league's best quarterback (statistically, at least) shredded the Texans in September for 3 TDs and 370 yards. Then again, he did that to almost every team in the league.
Is it fair to call the Texans defense the best in 2011 if they missed the likes of Eli, Brady and Rodgers?