In this week’s Group Think, we are talking Justin James Watt. Watt should be ready to play Week One against New England. He’s played in just eight games the last two seasons. How many games do you think J.J. Watt will play this season? What should the Texans expect from him?
J.J. is in for all 18 games (yes, not 16) and he gets DPOY. He’s learned a lot over the last two seasons about how to take care of his body and from recent pix, he’s more toned/lean that ever before. Not to mention, he’s no longer a zealous youngster but a wily veteran. Not to mention the supporting cast will allow for Watt to play fewer snaps per game to extend his effectiveness.
You’re asking an important question. And yet, at the same time, nobody will have any idea what the answer is until he actually plays.
What feels the most right to me, knowing what I know about injuries and age and all that, is that Watt comes back, plays less than a full season but more than six games, and is a solid second edge rusher who makes some plays in the running game.
I have zero confidence in that answer. Subjectively, I think Watt’s work ethic points to him being better. But there’s no reason to pretend anybody knows what is going to happen here.
The “Is J.J. Watt back?” question is incredibly important for this defense. With only Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus as clear known commodities that can get to the QB on the roster aside from Watt, Watt is a clearly important piece of that puzzle.
On the down side, Watt did not look like the Watt of old at all in 2017. On the flip side, does anybody have a more fierce work ethic and drive than Watt?
He’s not going to be the Watt of old, but he doesn’t have to be for the defense to be much improved with him. I do think he plays about 13 games this season, and he pitches in with five (5) sacks, and he’ll be back to being one of the best defensive linemen against the run.
Somewhere between the six and twelve games.
Playing in the NFL just takes too much of a toll on the the body to honestly expect a player to return after the degree of injuries that Watt suffered. Even 90% of what he was at previously is remarkably optimistic. If he has one or two games where he just does J.J Watt stuff and dominates the games, that will be the thing I’ll remember him most for.
No one should be able to come back from what he’s dealt with and play as well as did before the injuries. Realistically, I think 60%-70% of J.J. Watt is still pretty damn excellent. While I don’t think he’ll dominate on a snap to snap basis he did previously, I do think we’ll occasionally get glimpses of what was and wonder what a full force Watt and Clowney defense might have looked like.
I am hopeful that he will play the entire year, but you never really know with J.J. these days. Hope is all we’ve got at this point.
As for what to expect, as long as Watt 8s *actually* healthy, I think he can still be extremely productive. He’s still a freak of nature, athletically speaking, and he’s one of the most polished rushers in the NFL as well. As long as his back and leg are both fine, he’ll produce. I believe that in my heart of hearts.
When I saw this question asked, my first thought was ten games, and that feels pretty right to me. I don’t think he has a season-ending injury or anything like that, but I do think that he misses some time here and there. As for what we’ll see from J.J., I think we see competent to really good performance from him but I’d be surprised if we saw the terror that he was that netted him three DPOY awards.
From the reports I hear coming out of camp, especially Seth Payne’s assessment of Watt, I’m going to boldly go with him only missing the last game of the season as the Texans sit starters before the playoffs.
It sounds like Watt is looking just as explosive and powerful as ever. After all he has been through, he’s smarter about taking care of his body. That freak accident last season was the result of tripping over Dylan Cole’s foot and landing awkwardly while still trying to will himself into the play instead of rolling with it and protecting himself.
Diehard “I’m Too Busy and Cool To Talk About Sicario 2” Chris:
I’m not so much worried about Watt’s health as I am that he just won’t be the same guy. That said, if Watt is 75% of what he was, that still puts him in the top 12-20 defensive players in the league.
At least we know J.J. is a guy who will do anything humanly possible to put himself in the best position to maximize his comeback.
OK, so I am worried about the injuries. I can’t lie. The back injury was so long ago, but it worries me because if you watch JJ at the end of plays, guys are shoving him in the back, finishing blocks, etc. How many times can that happen before it’s just the right amount of force at the right angle and... well, you know.
Those are our thoughts. What are yours, loyal reader?