The Texans defense did what it always does in today’s 38-14 win over the Titans. They dominated, applying pressure, confusing them, and making plays. And in one of the NFL’s best defenses, second-year end J.J. Watt is the most dynamic player. It was that way again in Reliant Stadium.
Watt had two sacks, five tackles, and one fumble recovery. He put on a show. There were plenty of highlights, as Watt ran his total to a whopping 7.5 sacks in four games — a staggering number for a 3-4 DE. How good is he?
Allow Texans owner Bob McNair to weigh in.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody on the defensive side of the ball that’s playing as well as he’s playing — in the NFL,” McNair told me post-game in the locker room. “Did we expect that? No. We didn’t expect he’d be the best player on defense in the NFL, but the way he’s playing now I think he is.”
I think he’s right. It’s no secret how nasty Watt can be. As defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said, “He’s a tremendous player. We’ve said that all along. I said it at the end of the year, I thought that he was the best defensive lineman in the league the last couple of games of the season last year. He’s just continued that.“
Is Watt the leading candidate to be defensive player of the year? He is, through four games. He’s cool with that.
“It’s a goal,” Watt said. “It’s a goal. There are lots of bigger goals out there though. But it’s an honor that people are putting me in that category, but it is early. It’s week four and we’ve got a long way to go. I am really excited about what is ahead and excited about the opportunities. “
Watt is un-double-team-able. That’s true. Phillips puts him in good position, but there is so much talent, teams can’t make them pay for featuring Watt. Phillips can get him one-on-one, moving him around. That’s why this defense is so good. No one place to focus. Instead, they pick off two passes and take them back for scores, while also knocking QB Jake Locker from the game. They were nasty.
And Watt was the nastiest. Ask Titans RT David Stewart, who tried to tear Watt’s helmet off he was so mad.
“I don’t think I’m getting special attention and I don’t think that they can give me special attention because of all the other players we have on our team,” Watt said. “If you want to double team me, then you got (OLB) Connor Barwin, (OLB) Brooks Reed and (DE) Antonio Smith to deal with so it creates a lot of trouble and I think I need to give a lot of credit to those guys because they keep blockers off of me.”
Here is one thing I loved… listen to the comments by fellow DL Antonio Smith. He said the goal was for everyone else to make plays to keep Watt off the highlights. So when you’d turn on NFL Network or wherever, you’d see the rest of the defense. Well… nice try.
“I was just like, it was a big fun joke where everybody was messing with J.J.,” Smith said. “Connor, Cush, me, Cody. Just basically Brooks, the whole defense was like, ‘Man we all gotta get on the highlight film. The whole highlight film is J.J.’ So we called it Operation Keep J.J. off the highlight film by making plays too. … It worked out perfectly. J.J. still did his thing and everybody else is on the highlight film, too. It didn’t work the way they thought it was going to work, but it worked in a good way to where everybody was making plays. That’s the best way for it to be.“