Last Saturday night, J.J. Watt was deservedly named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Yesterday, his defensive coordinator spoke to Nick Scurfield about his prize pupil. Needless to say, Wade Phillips did not shy away from breaking out some platitudes. To wit:
“Yeah; I was surprised that one person voted for somebody else,” Phillips said in his office at Reliant Stadium. “He should have been unanimous.”
“I was excited for J.J.,” Phillips said. “It was certainly deserved. We all know what a great player he is. The stats prove it out. He had one of the greatest seasons ever. Tackles for loss, tackles, sacks, knocked-down passes – he knocked down more passes than defensive backs do, and of course set the record in that area. So it was fun to see him get the award, and (I was) certainly glad for him.”
“He’s got a lot of natural ability – he’s got speed size, quickness – but he’s got a great feel for football,” Phillips said. “So many guys don’t see the passer while they’re rushing the passer, and he’s got a great knack of being able to see through the lineman, be able to rush the passer but also see the football and see the quarterback. When the quarterback moves, a lot of guys, they beat their man but they don’t know where the quarterback is. But he’s got that real knack for being able to come back and make the play when the quarterback steps up or tries to scramble.”
“I call him the perfect guy to have, the perfect player, because he’s got a great attitude, he works so hard, he’s trying to get better all the time,” Phillips said. “He has a lot of physical abilities, but you can see he keeps improving all the time because he works at it. You couldn’t have a better attitude, you couldn’t work any harder and you couldn’t be any more humble, probably, than he is. He’s got all the right intangibles.”
Scurfield's article is a solid read. For example, here's a nice bit of bar trivia for you, courtesy of the piece: At 23 years old, J.J. Watt is younger than every prior winner of the DPOY award except one. That guy's name is Lawrence Taylor, who won it as a rookie.