Less than 24 hours after Sunday’s 27-24 win over the Oakland Raiders, the Houston Texans are tasked with another challenge.
How do they replace J.J. Watt?
According to head coach Bill O’Brien, it’s not a job for just one player.
“Like I said last night, no one person is going to take the spot of a Hall-of-Fame player, but at the end of the day, these things happen and we've got to move forward and do what we have to do to win games,” O’Brien said Monday. “That's what we're going to do, we're going to do the best we can to put the players in the right position based on what their skill sets are and go try to win games.”
Watt suffered a season-ending injury when he tackled Raiders running back Josh Jacobs in the backfield, for a loss of six yards in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. He left the game and did not return. Watt later posted a message on social media that he was out for the year.
Now with Watt out of the starting lineup, the Texans must find a way to disrupt opposing offenses similarly, but with different personnel.
The Texans defensive front is playing at a high level right now, led by D.J. Reader. The fourth-year defensive lineman is having quite year, surpassing his single-season career highs in sacks and tackles for loss just six games into the regular season. He not only controls his gap and stops the run, Reader has proven himself as a pass rusher along with teammates Brandon Dunn and Angelo Blackson. O’Brien also mentioned a combination of players like linebackers Barkevious Mingo, Jacob Martin and rookie defensive end Charles Omenihu.
But the loss of the three-time AP Defensive Player and five-time First-Team All-Pro will take more than just players, it will take new defensive schemes to make up for what Watt brought onto the field each week.
“That’s what we are upstairs working on right now relative to that position,” O’Brien said. “I feel bad for J.J. I think he’s a great attitude about it. I think everybody saw that relative to his message last night. We all know J.J. He’s going to work hard to be back. He won’t be back this year, but he’ll be back.”
On Sunday, the Texans will face the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.. Kickoff from Wembley Stadium is set for 8:30 a.m. CT on NFL Network and FOX-26.