In only two short seasons in the NFL, J.J. Watt has established himself as the premier defensive end in the game. Coming off a season where he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors, Watt will look to continue his dominance in 2013 and beyond.
It’s crazy the amount of impact a player like Watt has on a game. A defensive end who can constantly penetrate into the backfield, can change the course of an entire contest. Watt has an influence on every play, run or pass, and that’s not something many players can say.
His impact was greatly illustrated last season during a game I watched between the Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings. Just looking at the stat sheet, Watt didn’t have a great game. He only recorded three tackles, but that included two tackles for loss, and one sack. But what impressed me was just the way he altered the game.
Adrian Peterson was on an absolute tear coming into that game, and the Watt-led Texans defense, basically shut him down. AP only amassed 86 yards, and really just never got going. Watt was constantly in the backfield disrupting the flow of plays for the Vikings, and running to his side was just not an option.
Even with only three tackles, Watt’s influence on that game was remarkable to me. The Texans ended up losing due to only putting up six points on offense, but Watt and the defense kept them in the game.
To me, that’s the true measure of how great a player is – when they don’t have a good statistical game, but they still greatly impact the outcome.
Of course we all know that overall Watt had a fantastic year statistically, recording a near record 20.5 sacks. While Jared Allen will no doubt take exception, the torch has been passed to Watt as the game’s best D-end. Unlike Allen, who’s entering the final stage of his career, Watt will only be entering his third season. If he’s already almost breaking records at this point, the sky is the limit going forward.