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J.J. Watt: Wreaking Havoc


The was first published in the Texans 'Gameday' magazine.

*Three-time Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.
Four-time Associated Press First-Team All-Pro.
Four Pro Bowl nods in five years.

Voted as the top NFL player of 2014 by his peers around the league.

J.J. Watt has been wreaking havoc since he entered the league in 2011. His last two seasons are considered by many as the best of any defensive player in history.

In 2015, Watt led the NFL in sacks (17.5) once again. It was his third 15.0 sack season, tied for the second-most in the NFL since 1982. Reggie White is the only other player to notch three 15.0-sack seasons in his first five years in the league.

"It's always an honor to be put in categories with Reggie," Watt said. "It's been incredible to have my name associated with his over the last couple of years and especially this year. My goal is to always go out there and try and do incredible things and just take advantage of every opportunity I get to play this game and play it to the best of my ability. It's humbling."

Watt ended his fifth NFL season leading the NFL in tackles for losses (29), quarterback hits (50), as well as eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

*Predictably Unpredictable
Watt's game is predicated on change, unpredictability. Opposing players don't know where he's coming from or where's headed. At times, neither does Watt himself.

"That's what makes it fun," Watt said. "It's not just me, it's everybody else knowing their jobs as well. I mean, if I'm going to move around, then everybody else needs to know what's going on. It's great. You never know where I'm coming from. I never know where I'm coming from. That's what makes the game fun and that's why I appreciate playing for RAC (Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel), he gives me that freedom."

Crennel's defense allows for everyone to have some form of freedom once they understand his scheme. After that, it's a hierarchy of who gets how much leeway to go off-script. The more experienced players have more freedom, as do the ones that have the athletic ability to gain serious ground, like Watt.

"The thing that you don't want, is you don't want everybody having a lot of leeway, which opens up big holes in the defense," Crennel said. "I think also the ability of the player makes it difference in how much leeway he gets. You can give me a lot of leeway, but it takes me a lot of time to get where I need to be. J.J. can get there a lot quicker. I don't have as much leeway as J.J. has."

*Keeping Opposing Coaches Up At Night

*Opposing head coaches have to game-plan for Watt. They've been watching him over the course of his career and don't take lightly the damage that No. 99 can do to a quarterback's passing game, either by deflecting passes or bringing pressure. Every coach the Texans have faced this season is familiar with the impact Watt has on offenses and the outcome of a game.

Week 1 - Chiefs head coach Andy Reid:
"I was just asked if I had been around another defensive end that was a good player, so I've been around a few of them, but the best I had been around was (Pro Football Hall of Fame player) Reggie (White). They're a little bit different in the way they go about it, but they both were relentless football players."

Week 2 - Panthers head coach Ron Rivera:
"He's a dynamic football player, he really is. He does have the ability to impact and change games. You've got to have an answer. You can't commit 100 percent focus on him though because, again, they've got enough quality football players that if you let him pull you away from what you do, it's going to be tough. It's going to be tough if you don't as well. You've got to show him the type of respect you do. Pass rushers with his type of ability are impact players. They're difference makers and you have to account for them."

Week 3 – Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith:
"J.J. Watt of course can keep you up. He's as good as advertised from anybody that knows football, I like to think I know football and he's as good as advertised."

Week 4 – Falcons head coach Dan Quinn
"I have just real respect for him as a competitor. I like how they try to feature him in terms of – you can see depending on the game that he can be anywhere from outside at tight end to all the way down over at nose tackle then oh by the way, go help out on offense down at the goal line. I think probably what stands out to me the most is the energy and toughness that he plays with. I love that about his game. The speed, the effort, the toughness, it's all the things I love about really hard-nosed defensive ball."

Double Teams, Triple Teams? No Problem

Watt knows the extra attention means more work for him each week. He sees it each time he faces a double or triple team coming at him during a game. That doesn't bother the league's best defensive player though.

"It definitely happened last year," Watt said. "I think so far this year, there's already been more triple teams than the past. But that's to be expected. I mean, that's what I would do too. You have to continue to fight, continue to battle. Like I've always said, it makes it that much sweeter when you do get there."

And definitely plans on getting there.

Different Is Better

Watt is constantly looking for ways to keep defenses guessing. With so much attention focused on stopping him, Watt has to keep evolving and changing his game. Change isn't easy, but it's part of what makes J.J. Watt one of the best in the NFL.

"As great as he's been, he's always looking for ways to improve, whether it's obviously with a new move, as to how he would take on a run block, a pass rush move, maybe it's some new exercise that he does in the weight room," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "The guy is always looking to improve. I think that's what makes him great. Any great player I've ever been around, they're always looking for ways to improve."

A collection of photos of J.J. Watt from the 2015 season.

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