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Key Matchup To Watch: Mario Williams/Connor Barwin vs. Jake Long

As much as this weekend's matchup with the Miami Dolphins will test the entire Texans defense, it's one particular matchup that stands out most.

That's the one with Wade's outside linebackers against possibly the best left tackle in football, Jake Long. Last week, the Texans got great pressure on Indy's Kerry Collins against a really bad Colts offensive line. If this new defense is to hold up, it'll be because those guys get pressure consistently.

Long has started every game for the Dolphins since being selected No. 1 overall out of Michigan in the 2008 draft. Last season, he and the Miami offensive line gave up 38 sacks and had an adjusted sack rate of 6.3 percent, according to Football Outsiders. That's slightly below league average and a big reason for that is Long.

Last week, Mario got both of his sacks when matched up with the tight end. I don't expect that to happen again, but it's an open question whether the Dolphins will choose to protect in the same way. If Mario gets matched up against a tight end, I'd expect a running back to slide over and help out. 

However, that's exactly why I bring up Barwin as well. It may be him and Brooks Reed matched up with Long. There also could be the possibility of J.J. Watt or Antonio Smith be matched up there on some downs. If those four can get pressure on Henne, the Texans secondary will look just as good as it did last week. 

 

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