J.J. Watt is having the type of 2018 season that has many discussing whether he could win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year or the Defensive Player of the Year, or even both.
But Watt would rather not remember this season as a comeback, a return from back-to-back seasons cut short by injury.
Watt has already nabbed the Associate Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times (2012, 2014, 2015). Still, he would rather win that one a fourth time than earn his first Comeback Player of the Year award.
“I think that one is better than the other one, but all of these things – you play the game and then you let it all play out,” Watt said. “That’s how it’s been my whole career. You don’t play to try to win something like that. You just try to go out there and play your game, try to do your best to help your team win and at the end of the year, the chips fall where they may with things like that.”
Through nine games, Watt is tied for first in the AFC in sacks (9.0), tackles for loss (11) and forced fumbles. He ranks fourth in the AFC with a team-high 16 quarterback hits. In fact, Watt is on pace to produce statistics similar to the ones he garnered in 2012, 2014 and 2015, the years he won the Defensive Player of the Year.
In the offseasons preceding those campaigns, Watt was elevating his box jumps and flipping massive tires – the picture of perfect health. Perhaps that is why his 2018 performance seems even more impressive, coming off a devastating tibial plateau fracture in his leg and a season-ending back surgery in 2016. Just months after being cleared to play football again, Watt is putting up numbers reminiscent of his best seasons.
“I don’t think he minds the recognition because by being a comeback player that means you’re making plays and you’re being a good defensive player,” defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. “If he wasn’t making plays and not a good defensive player, they wouldn’t even be talking about him in that realm. I think because of his work ethic and his goals that he sets, he would just rather be the best defensive player and not have to worry about comeback and all of that good stuff.”
With a first-place record in the division and nearly half the regular season games remaining, the Texans defense is playing at a high level all-around. So for now Watt is singularly focused on winning games, not awards.
“There’s still a lot of football left,” Watt said. “There’s a ton of games to be played, and I’m just happy as hell to be playing them and to be having an opportunity to go out there every Sunday and continue to grow and become a better player.”
The (6-3) Texans will travel to Washington in Week 11. Kickoff is set for 12 noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
Pregame Photos: Texans vs. Broncos
Prepped and ready to go. The Texans are about to take on the Broncos at Mile High Stadium for Week 9 of the 2018 NFL Season.