J.J. Watt has missed most of the last two seasons thanks to devastating injuries, so you’d be forgiven if you had forgotten just how dominant he can be. Well, he’s back healthy now and it looks like the Houston Texans star hasn’t missed a beat. While we’ve all been obsessed with Khalil Mack’s dominance this season, Watt has been every bit as good off the edge.
Watt was able to play in just eight games over the past two seasons thanks to a back injury in 2016 and a fractured left leg in 2017. But the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has bounced back with a vengeance this season, dominating since he settled in after Week 1.
So far on the year, we’ve all chronicled how great Mack has been for the Chicago Bears. He’s been far more visible because his team is off to a shocking 3-1 start, while the Texans have languished at 1-3. But Watt and Mack’s numbers are virtually identical so far.
Mack boasts 17 tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. Watt has accounted for 20 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mack and Watt are the top two edge defenders in the NFL, with ratings of 92.1 (Mack) and 90.9 (Watt). The thing is, Houston’s star might just be getting started.
From PFF’s analysis:
Despite his overall success, Watt got off to a slow start to the season, logging just five total pressures in Weeks 1 and 2. Of course, he has since turned things around, as Watt recorded nine pressures (six hurries, three hits) and five sacks in just the past two weeks. He now ranks ninth in pass-rush productivity (8.6) largely because of his recent efforts.
He should face a stiff test this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys and their vaunted offensive line. The Cowboys struggled up front for a few weeks but appear to have righted the ship in a Week 4 win over the Lions. This matchup will be a chance for Watt to prove he’s all the way back.
At 29 years old there’s no reason we should have ever counted Watt out. Yes, back-to-back seasons lost to injury were devastating but when he’s healthy he’s one of the most dominant defenders in NFL history.
If he is finally back to being the guy he was before his injury issues, the rest of the league is in trouble.