Only two years into his NFL career, J.J. Watt has already established himself as one of the league’s premiere pass-rushers. 2012 was a breakout season for the 24-year old, as he got to the quarterback 20.5 times. He easily won defensive player of the year, and now he’s looking to take things to the next level in 2013.
Upon looking into Watt’s stats from a season ago, I got to thinking – who was the last player to lead the league in sacks, two years in a row? Surprisingly, I had to go back all the way to 1987 -1988, and the great Reggie White. This was so long ago, that White was still a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Before White, Mark Gastineau (NYJ) pulled it off in 83-84.
There have been several guys that have led the league two out of three years (Michael Strahan, DeMarcus Ware), but no one has accomplished the feat back-to-back, in 25 years.
While it seems like a no-brainer that Watt will be performing at his current pace for many more years, he’s still a really young player. From here on out, he’s going to see a ton of double-teams, and nothing will come easy. Now that he’s had a breakout season, you can bet that opposing coaches will have his name circled heading into each week. That’s obviously part of the reason it’s so tough to lead the league two years in a row – teams are not going to let one player continuously get to their quarterback.
Even though the road ahead is only going to get tougher for Watt, I think he’ll be in position to lead the NFL in sacks again this season. Especially, if you consider that he wasn’t even playing at 100% last year.
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