Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt has quickly become the face of this young franchise. He has done so with hard work, determination and a knack for taking down opposing quarterbacks. He has won fans over with his relentless style of play, his knack for knowing where the ball is at all times and because he now trains in a cabin surrounded by nothing, much like Rocky.
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After recording only five and a half sacks his rookie year, Watt exploded in the 2012 season with 20.5, the same total he had last season as the team just missed the playoffs. Sandwiched between the two monster seasons was a respectable ten a half sack season.
While that record is for discussion years from now, Watt has come extremely close, twice now, to the record for sacks set by defensive end Michael Strahan, who recorded 22.5 in 2001 for the New York Giants.
Watt has managed these stats without much help at all. In 2014 the team finished 19th in the NFL with just 38 total sacks on the season. Watt managed more at 20.5 than all other defensive players for Houston combined, as they managed 17.5.
This season things could be a little bit different as the Texans have bulked up their defensive line by adding 325 pound nose tackle Vince Wilfork to the mix. The big guy who spent 11 seasons in New England won’t be contributing much pass rush himself, as he has only 16 total in his whole career.
Instead, where Wilfork helps is the amount of attention he will receive. Last season no one else along the defensive front seven for Houston had to be feared once linebacker Jadeveon Clowney went down with a knee injury. With Clowney most likely to not be himself for some time, the big tackle the team just added will fill some of the void as he will at least make offensive lineman work to block him.
Imagine how successful Watt would have been last season if there was just slightly less attention on him all year. I believe as the defense gets stronger, Watt has a growing chance to finally break through and snap the 22 sack mark, ending Strahan’s reign as the top quarterback terror for a single season.