The Kansas City Chiefs needed someone to step up for their fledgling defense against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, and second year outside linebacker Justin Houston showed he was the man to do it, sacking Drew Brees three times in Kansas City’s 27-24 win over the Saints. Through 3 games this season, Houston already has 4 sacks and is well on his way to becoming an elite National Football League pass rusher.
Dating back to last season, Houston has 35 tackles and 9.5 sacks in his last 8 games. With 4 sacks already this season, the 4th round pick out of Georgia is becoming a great complement to the Chiefs other outside linebacker, Pro Bowler Tamba Hali. Because Houston is still a relative unknown in the NFL, it will probably be easier for him to pressure quarterbacks if offenses focus on blocking Hali. Towards the end of the Saints game, it felt like he was constantly in the backfield and breathing down Brees’s neck, and one of his sacks caused a safety that brought the Chiefs to within three points. The defense played like a cohesive unit for the first time this season after the Saints jumped out to a 24-6 lead.
Facing Phillip Rivers and a San Diego Chargers squad coming off of a beating against the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional matchup, expect Houston to continue his rise to dominance this weekend. He may not be DeMarcus Ware or Clay Matthews yet, but expect Houston, along with Seattle Seahawks rookie Bruce Irvin and second-year guys like Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers, to represent the new guard of young pass-rushing outside linebackers in the NFL.