While sitting in the BRB corporate jumbo jet, drinking the finest ale we could purchase on our SB Nation sponsored trip to Club Med for a little R&R, the idea came up that J.J. Watt is due for a monster of a game.
Watching him so far, he seems to show no signs of last year’s injury having any long-term effect on his productivity. Other than the nearly uncountable amount of uncalled holding penalties, it seems there’s really no reason why Watt hasn’t blown up an opposing offense with a multi-sack, turnover inducing, touchdown dancing, “We Told You So” performance so far in 2017,
In between bites of gourmet prepared fresh shrimp, Kobe beef fajitas, and swigs of Battle Red Ale (patent pending), we decided to talk about this very subject in-depth.
It would have already happened if the NFL employed non-corrupted, semi-competent officials. The uncalled egregious offensive holding used on Watt all but negates a team even bothering to employ pass rushers. Selective and inconsistent officiating ruins this sport. It's unacceptable, and I'm damn close to tuning it out if they continue down this path.
So when does J.J. Watt have a breakout game? The very moment these scumbag refs call the game per the NFL rules.
Diehard Chris (*may be a replicant):
The good ol' days of Watt's statistical dominance and flashy games might be over as far as the unsustainable frequency aspect goes. I think he'll still have those games, but teams are just scheming him so hard right now, and the refs aren't going to call holding on every (any?) play. Watt has made an impact in all games this year except for Jacksonville, where everyone was The Walking Dead.
The real key is that Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus continue to take advantage of the opportunities they are afforded by Watt being such a focus of the offenses we face.
That said, I'll just go with the Cleveland game because...Cleveland. That franchise can't keep from making bad decisions on and off the field, so I can envision a scenario where the Browns offensive game plan doesn't revolve around mitigating J.J.'s ability to be a gamewrecker.
I think it happens tonight against Kansas City. Jadeveon Clowney is quickly becoming the freak that we all (read: me, not Tim) assumed he would be, so KC is going to be worried about Clowney's ability to run Alex Smith down on those scrambles. Which he totally can and will. BUT...that being said, I think Clowney's speed and recent play will have Smith and the Chiefs paying juuuuust a little less attention to Watt, and that will be all the opportunity J.J. needs to feast.
Big games are sacks and tackles for a loss. The sacks aren't going to happen until Mike Vrabel starts rushing Watt from the interior. He's been stuck in the wide nine in passing rushing situations, and he has trouble beating even cinderblock-shoed tackles at the point of attack; he hasn't been able to turn the corner. My assumption is that Vrabel has used Watt wide to get offensive lines shifting over to open up more one-on-one blocks for the rest of the front seven. The tackles for a loss are so close to consistently being there. Watt’s swim move is still devastating. He's still teleporting into the backfield. He is just missing tackles in the backfield. These numbers should start to rack up soon.
My best guess is that it will come against Seattle because their offensive line is a blood-drenched shirt after a werewolf attack. Hopefully it's sooner than that. Hopefully by the Seahawks game, he finally has a sack, has started rushing from the interior, and is finishing those plays in the backfield.
The Magician Known Only As “TIM”:
If "breakout game" means "multiple sacks," I reckon it comes against the Browns next week. DeShone Kizer strikes me as a dude who'll get to know J.J. Watt extremely well in short order.
Nevertheless, I'd argue the eldest Watt brother has already been quite impactful this season. He has already had games with multiple TFLs, achieving that honor on the first two snaps against the Patriots.
Through four games, J.J. has been very good. Not close to 2015 level great, but he's still a difference-maker. If the multiple back surgeries diminished his effectiveness, they certainly didn't cut it in half or even a quarter. J.J. Watt remains a monster.
If it doesn't happen against Kansas City and the patchwork that is their offensive line (LOL Eric Fisher), it comes against the Seahawks. Their line is, and has been for some time, a complete joke. From time to time, Russell Wilson runs straight into rushers because he assumes he'll be on the run always (spoiler alert: He will be). So while Wilson is mobile, Seattle’s line is bad enough that our front seven could swarm him with little resistance.
What’s your prediction? When will the beast that is J.J. Watt fully unleash himself upon the rest of the NFL?