J.J. Watt is the 2015 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
At least Bill Belichick thinks so.
"He's already earned that award this year, even if he didn't play the last four games, which this might be a good game for him to rest," the Patriots head coach joked in a Wednesday morning conference call.
The winner of the award won't be announced until Saturday, February 6th, but what Watt's done through 12 games has impressed Belichick immensely. The four-time Super Bowl champion head coach with New
England also picked up a pair of Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants as an assistant. From 1979 to 1990 he was on staff there, and got a first-hand look on a daily basis at Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.
For Belichick, there are a lot of similarities between the former outside linebacker and the current defensive end.
"Watt's a major force," Belichick said. "There have been very few players I would put in the same conversation with Taylor but I would put Watt there. Now it's early in his career and he's done a lot already, Taylor did it over a long period of time, but Watt's done it pretty consistently now. He's that same kind of player."
With an NFL-best 13.5 sacks, 24 tackles for loss and 42 quarterback hits, Watt's actually ahead of his 2014 pace, when he won his second NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. While it's an open-and-shut case in Belichick's opinion, the voters haven't spoken yet about Watt picking up what would be his third such honor. But the New England head coach reeled off the many reasons Watt is the best defender in football.
"You can't run at him, you can't run away from him," Belichick said. "He wins with speed, he wins with quickness, he wins with power, he plays inside, he plays outside, he plays out on the tackle, he plays in on the guard, both sides of the line he's had production when they flipped him and he's played a little bit on the center, he's hard to block there, too, batted down I don't know how many passes."
He also pointed out that Watt's surrounded by "a lot of other good players" on the Texans defense, too. But Belichick emphasized his squad will need to do well against Watt "or it's going to be a long day".
He and the Patriots come to town for the Sunday Night Football matchup, and kickoff against the Texans is set for 7:30 p.m. CT at NRG Stadium.
Check out shots from Wednesday's practice as the Texans prepare for the Patriots on Sunday night.