When looking at his season as a whole, it would be ludicrous for anyone to think Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt needs to improve, but the scope of one game in a past changes the whole meaning of improvement. Although J.J. Watt actually played a great game against the New England Patriots with constant pressure on Tom Brady to go with four quarterback hits, he never made his customary game-changing play. In fact, it was one of only two games during the season in which Watt never recorded a sack or deflected a pass.
Watt knows that he will need to be that game-changer on the Texans, even though he definitely did his job during the first Patriots-Texans game of the year. But that game also ended up in a 42-14 blowout loss, and the Texans haven’t done much since Week 14 to show that they can quickly improve. Even though it will be difficult to ask for even more from Watt, that’s exactly what the Texans need and that’s exactly what Watt will try to deliver.
The Defensive Player of the Year told the Houston Chronicle, “I don’t think I played my best game. I think we can all agree on that. I got quite a few hits on him, but obviously the ball was gone. I need to play better, and I’m going to play better.”
Watt definitely didn’t play his best game, and the Patriots did a great job of containing him. In all honesty, almost all of that credit goes to Brady for getting the ball out of there quickly and showing the pocket awareness to beat Watt in that aspect of the game. The reason why Watt “definitely didn’t play his best game” is because we’ve seen him truly dominate on the line and wreak havoc at a legendary level. He was good, but he certainly wasn’t at that legendary status on that Monday night.
Now, it’s up to the Patriots to repeat the difficult task of holding Watt to goose eggs in the sacks column (and the PD column, for that matter).
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.