Now that we have reached the quarter-mark for the NFL season, I have decided to take a look at the MVP frontrunners that have developed so far. There are plenty of players that can make a case, like Matt Ryan, Ray Rice, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, RG III, etc. All the aforementioned players have contributed a great deal to their teams and have put up some incredible stats up to this point, but none of them have had an impact on the game thus far like Texans Defensive End J.J. Watt.
With Williams gone to Buffalo, J.J. has not only replaced Mario but has enhanced the Texans’ defensive presence on the field. In his sophomore season Watt has been dominant, conjuring 16 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries with 7 recovery yards, 5 passes defended (batted balls), and 4 stuffed tackles with 12 stuffing yards. Watt is on pace to have 30 sacks, which would shatter Michael Strahan’s single season record, and 16 stuff tackles with 48 lost yards to offenses on non-passing plays. These stats do not even begin to define “beast-mode” (a Wisconsin favorite), and Watt is embarking on a season that could go down as the best ever by a defensive player.
To this point, Watt has redefined what any 3-4 defensive end can produce on the field. In a 3-4 system, defensive ends are given the assignment of containing the ends and taking up blockers to free up the linebacker crew to make the defensive stops. Watt’s experience from working with Wade Phillips has made him a dynamic player because he has been able to make moves with a calculated risk in mind. He now knows what plays he can make and which ones will harm the team or will give up a big play. This type of play leads to great timing and will not only lead J.J. to a pro-bowl season, but potentially an MVP season.
Coming into this season I’m sure that every sports analyst had Justin Smith of the San Francisco 49ers as the best 3-4 defensive end in the game from last years’ performance, but I believe that Watt has clearly set himself apart into a whole new stratosphere. With Watt’s level-headed approach of team-first, me-second, there is no doubt that he will be able to establish himself as the premier defensive lineman in the NFL and a force to be reckoned with for years to come.