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Wade Phillips: J.J. Watt had the best season ever

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Everyone knows Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt had a good season, but Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was “good season” doesn’t even come close to describing how well Watt played in 2012.

According to Phillips, Watt had the greatest season that any defensive linemen ever has had in the history of the sport.

“He had the best season ever. Nobody’s ever had a season like that,” Phillips said Thursday.

That’s a bold statement, but Phillips has spent 35 years as a defensive line coach, defensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL, and he knows what he speaks of when he discusses defensive line play. Phillips noted that he coached Hall of Fame defensive ends Elvin Bethea and Bruce Smith, and he said that as great as those two guys were, neither of them ever had a year as good as Watt’s 2012.

Watt’s 2012 season really was amazing: He led the league in sacks with 20.5 and knocked down another 16 passes, and he’s not just a one-dimensional pass rusher. He’s also one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL against the run. uses play-by-play data to compile a stat they call “defeats,” which combines every time a defensive player forces a turnover, gets a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, or gets a tackle or tipped pass to prevent a conversion on third or fourth down. The Football Outsiders play-by-play data goes back two decades, and until this season the single-season record for defeats belonged to Ray Lewis, who had 45 defeats in 1999. This year Watt obliterated that record, with 56 defeats.

Phillips may be right. Watt might not just be the Defensive Player of the Year for 2012. He might also have had the best season any defensive player has ever had, in any year.

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70 Responses to “Wade Phillips: J.J. Watt had the best season ever”
  1. lambeaufieldwest says: Jan 10, 2013 5:57 PM

    Pro Football Focus answers these types of questions, not Wade Phillips.

  2. broncobeta says: Jan 10, 2013 5:57 PM

    … except when playing New England.

  3. u4iadman says: Jan 10, 2013 5:59 PM

    Not a Texans fan, but mad props to Watt, and like his attitude. Hope Goodell doesnt implement rules to limit his effectiveness too.

  4. profootballwalk says: Jan 10, 2013 5:59 PM

    Dick Butkus doesn’t count. Deacon Jones doesn’t count.

  5. theseekeroffun says: Jan 10, 2013 6:02 PM

    Get your cupcakes ready!

  6. benroethlisberger7 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:02 PM

    6 rings > 0 rings

  7. iceburgskin202 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:02 PM

    Watt is an animal now I know why they let Williams walk. If not for AD and Peyton overcoming adversity he’s the MVP this year. #Salute

  8. nicepak381 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:03 PM

    This guy is great and he scares me plenty. He knocked Brady down a few times last time he came to NE and I’m sure he’s more p.o.’d this time. Tom is a very tough guy, but I hope they can shield him better this Sunday, although I don’t know how they can do it. Watt is tremendous.

  9. catfanatic1979v1 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:04 PM

    I think he did have the best season ever. I hate that he is in the same division as my Jags but he is the Micheal Jordan of NFL defensive players. This year was insane for him. The number of tipped passes alone was CRAZY.

  10. dalucks says: Jan 10, 2013 6:05 PM

    Hopefully, in the offseason, the Texans improve the defensive line by getting an upgrade at the DT position so J.J. Watt does not get double teamed in the future.
    Hopefully, Connor Barwin or Brooks Reed or both will become a complimentary pass rush to J.J. Watt.
    As a Texans fan, we can hope our organization is willing to take the next step on the ladder of success.

  11. helloanybodyhome says: Jan 10, 2013 6:06 PM

    Let’s not forget Rays two limo defeats in 2000.

  12. azarkhan says: Jan 10, 2013 6:07 PM

    benroethlisberger7 says: 6 rings > 0 rings

    Ahhh, the petty Steeler fan. BTW, where are the Steelers? Did they even make the playoffs? LOL

  13. purpleguy says: Jan 10, 2013 6:07 PM

    Hall of famer Alan Page and numerous others from the non-sack statistical era may strongly disagree.

  14. bluenose1965 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:08 PM

    His season isn’t done yet. 🙂

    An amazing number of Steeler trolls. You know the Cowboy fans are the other ones who run around shouting about “got rings”, right? That’s the company you keep. Well done.

  15. easyrider1903 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:08 PM

    Yeah, so did Christian Ponder!

  16. kev86 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:08 PM


  17. bigbluecrew420 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:11 PM

    sorry but no. LT for sure

  18. bigbluecrew420 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:13 PM


  19. dohpey28 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:13 PM

    LT did it for a decade. He changed the game. JJ Watt had a great year, no doubt, but he is no LT.

  20. goldensmog says: Jan 10, 2013 6:16 PM

    Reggie White had 21 sacks in a shortened 12 game season in 1987.

  21. zappa69 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:20 PM

    Not against the Vikings!

  22. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:21 PM

    “benroethlisberger7 says:
    Jan 10, 2013 6:02 PM
    6 rings > 0 rings”

    Most Steelers fans needed that 6th ring to learn how to count higher than the fingers on one hand.

  23. gbmickey says: Jan 10, 2013 6:21 PM

    LT i dont think so. The point of the article was this season not a career. IMO he should be co mvp with Peterson.

  24. skittlesareyum says: Jan 10, 2013 6:22 PM

    Why does everyone keep bringing up only sacks? His sacks, while amazing, aren’t the only reason his season might have been the best ever.

  25. johngaltwho says: Jan 10, 2013 6:24 PM

    Hyperbole is absolutely the most horrible form of speech.

  26. COSBenny says: Jan 10, 2013 6:25 PM

    Von Miller statistically had a better year than LT in ’86 when he was league MVP. LT had two more sacks than Von in ’86, but zero picks and zero forced fumbles. Von had a pick six and six forced fumbles to go w/ 18.5 sacks in ’12. “Well Von had Elvis”, fine, LT had Harry Carson and he’s in the HOF. Von had one of the great all-time seasons defensively. Saying that… JJ was significantly better than Von in 2012. Von had a superb season, but JJ’s was WAY-Better. The Pats fans can smirk, but even in that game he caught Danny Woodhead from behind and forced a fumble… that happened to bounce into Brandon Lloyd’s lucky arms in the end zone. I think Ralph Wiggum, I mean, Wade Phillips is right: JJ probably had the best defensive year, ever.

  27. iceburgskin202 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:25 PM

    Watt is a force I haven’t seen against both the pass and run since the late great Reggie White but in a league that is about offense it gets overlooked. It’s a shame dude can ball 4real!!! #winindatrenches

  28. jonbeck316 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:28 PM

    Barry Bonds had the best season ever in 2001. He did it the same way that JJ did it

  29. howiefeltersnatch says: Jan 10, 2013 6:28 PM

    Roids. Have you looked at the guy

  30. grogansheroes says: Jan 10, 2013 6:34 PM

    Guy walked on to Wisconsin as 185lb tight end. Think he’s going to the same doctor as AP?

  31. stuartscottslazyeyeball says: Jan 10, 2013 6:36 PM

    Roid Rage.

  32. classyjacklambert says: Jan 10, 2013 6:40 PM

    Look I’m as big of a Steelers fan as anyone. That being said can we please stop using the “6 ring” argument every time? For the love of God we didn’t even make the playoffs this year and our last ring came four years ago. I detest trolls with no sense of originality.

  33. cooklynn17 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:41 PM

    Too bad its over this weekend.

  34. mikejd12 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:42 PM

    A white guy?… Might get fired for that one

  35. enochmh2 says: Jan 10, 2013 6:48 PM

    He had more sacks than the jaguars entire team! Jags have had a top team pick for like 6 years in a row

  36. countduku says: Jan 10, 2013 6:52 PM

    These are the kind of staements heard many times every year by people who are bellied up to a bar after a few drinks. Same story, different name. Great year, definetley Def. player of the year.

  37. vincelombardi says: Jan 10, 2013 6:54 PM

    Yes, Reggie White had 21 sacks in a shortened season, but a defensive players season should be judged on more than sacks. Watt not only had 20.5 sacks… he had 16 batted passes, 22 tackles for a loss and 76 QB disruptions. Only season/ player in the argument is LT’s, and thats questionable.

  38. sixringsofsteel says: Jan 10, 2013 6:54 PM

    6? six.

  39. countyk66ers says: Jan 10, 2013 6:56 PM

    6 rings > 0 rings

    Why do Steeler fans always blurt out this 6 ring thing every chance they get? Pittsburgh didn’t even make the playoffs until the 70’s.

  40. gbmickey says: Jan 10, 2013 7:08 PM

    Grogan you have no idea what you are talking about. While he did walk on after leaving i believe central michigan he was not 185lbs. Why is it when someone is jealous of a player they have to denigrate them instead of acknowledging the talent? The guy was a force for Wisconsin and those that seen him play new he had the motor and the ability.

  41. azarkhan says: Jan 10, 2013 7:11 PM

    J.J. Watts and Von Miller are perhaps the best defensive players in the AFC. Congratulations to both for having great seasons.

  42. EJ says: Jan 10, 2013 7:18 PM

    Watt only had 88 tackles this season.

  43. EJ says: Jan 10, 2013 7:19 PM

    Sorry 81 tackles.

  44. pinion8ted says: Jan 10, 2013 7:21 PM

    Best defensive season EVER??????

    Just wish we could have seen some of that when he came to Gillette five weeks ago.

    Patriots fans will just have to take your word for it, Wade, we didn’t see it for ourselves 😉

  45. vincelombardi says: Jan 10, 2013 7:22 PM

    My mistake on my previous statement LT isn’t even in the arguement, he was a linebacker not a lineman as was Wade’s arguement.

  46. pinion8ted says: Jan 10, 2013 7:23 PM

    gbmickey says:Jan 10, 2013 7:08 PM

    Grogan you have no idea what you are talking about. While he did walk on after leaving i believe central michigan he was not 185lbs. Why is it when someone is jealous of a player they have to denigrate them instead of acknowledging the talent? The guy was a force for Wisconsin and those that seen him play new he had the motor and the ability.

    I bekieve he’s suggesting that if he got that talent out of a syringe or a pill, none of that means quite as much.

  47. kappy32 says: Jan 10, 2013 7:35 PM

    He’s talking as though the season is over. At least Phillips recognizes that it will be over very soon without an absolute miracle. The Pats are going to walk all over the Texans this weekend.

  48. patfanken says: Jan 10, 2013 7:40 PM

    Zero sacks. Zero deflections, Zero tackles for a loss……and STILL was the most impressive defensive player I saw this season.

    This kid was awesome, even while his team was being blown out, be kept being disruptive. He is easily the DPOY, and I didn’t see every game he played, from what little I saw, I wouldn’t dispute the evidence that he had the best year of any defensive player.

  49. goldensmog says: Jan 10, 2013 7:48 PM

    If you don’t think Reggie White didn’t do everything as a defensive end i.e. stop the run, deflect passes, force fumbles, etc., you’ve never seen him play. White’s season > Watt’s season

  50. eagles92 says: Jan 10, 2013 7:48 PM

    Two words Reggie White

  51. redrobots44 says: Jan 10, 2013 7:49 PM

    Its an article on a Thursday night about a good season for a young DE and some Steelers nerd puts “6 rings>0 rings”, what does that have to do with anything? We can only hope that person is younger than like 23 or that guys got some issues

  52. tdubdizzle says: Jan 10, 2013 7:56 PM

    It scares me to think JJ Watt is just going to get better and better. And on top of his great season he has stayed humble, he is the definition of Pure class. Love watching this guy play.

  53. frankdatank23 says: Jan 10, 2013 8:05 PM

    I can’t believe some of my well thought out posts don’t get added, but things like spam can get in on the first comment.

    I agree with Wade, the dude was out of his mind crazy good this year, props to Watt. Remember that with the passing game coming to the forefront, your going to see more statistical production from your pass defense. I wonder how many sacks he had against the sorry colts,jags, and titans lines too.

  54. kingsportal says: Jan 10, 2013 8:06 PM

    I’m a Texan fan that watched every game in our short history and JJ Watts season by far goes down as the best from any player in our teams history. Congrats to him for being a beast. In the past I have rooted for for Patriots in post season wile our team never made the playoffs. Due to the poor performance in regular seasons meeting with Pats fans of N.E. have become a little mouthy. Deep down they are worried about the real Texans might show up this time around.
    Go Texans

  55. ceschatz says: Jan 10, 2013 8:32 PM

    benroethlisberger7 January 10, 2013, 6:02 PM EST

    6 rings > 0 rings
    living in the past doesn’t really get you anywhere in a “what have you done for me lately” league.

  56. Andre's Johnson says: Jan 10, 2013 8:35 PM

    Needs to have one of the best playoff games ever for a defensive lineman to give the Texans a shot at unseating the Patriots Sunday.

    I hope we (Texans fans) don’t start taking Watt for granted. It’s easy to begin to expect 1.5 sacks, 3 TFLs, and a swatted ball every game.

  57. FinFan68 says: Jan 10, 2013 8:47 PM

    Reggie White was a GREAT player. I have watched NFL football for decades. My favorite team is obvious but I am a fan of the game–and I have never seen a season quite like the one JJ Watt put together this year. His impact is unquestionable. Many of the batted balls turned out to be interceptions, although he doesn’t receive credit. (Neither do the rest of the guys that start the tip drill)

    Rather than belittling or disparaging his efforts, realize the special season for what it was. While I believe Marino’s 5000+ yard season was the most impressive (due to the era) I can still appreciate what Brees, Brady, Stafford have done. Peterson’s season was amazing for a RB and Johnson’s receiving yards were unmatched. Just be glad you were able to witness these things instead of tossing out dumb insults because the guys don’t play for your favorite team.

  58. thefiesty1 says: Jan 10, 2013 8:53 PM

    Didn’t he say the same thing a couple of years ago with Ware in Big D? Wait until this weekend in New England. It’s over for Phillips, JJ and the rest of the Texans. I wish it weren’t so because I can’t stand the Pats.

  59. dangernearing says: Jan 10, 2013 8:58 PM

    Test this guy. He’s on that Mark McGwire.

  60. oilers1974 says: Jan 10, 2013 9:20 PM

    “According to Phillips, Watt had the greatest season that any defensive linemen ever has had in the history of the sport.” Keep it apples to apples; Phillips stated defensive lineman, Smith opened it to any defensive player.

  61. cjspiller12 says: Jan 10, 2013 9:51 PM

    No doubt JJ Watt had an awesome year, but Wade must be losing his memory or old age has caught up to him. I’ll take Bruce Smith’s year in 1990 and put it just above Watt this year. Bruce had 19 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 101 tackles. In his 19 NFL seasons, Smith played in 279 games, amassing 200 sacks, two interceptions, 46 forced fumbles, and 15 fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for 33 yards and a touchdown. Of his 19 seasons in the NFL, 13 of them were seasons where he had at least ten sacks, a testament to his consistency year in and year out. He was also named All-Pro nine times. His 200 sacks give him the record for most career quarterback take-downs. As Smith spent most of his career in a 3–4 defensive scheme, a defensive scheme not geared toward creating sack opportunities for defensive ends, many consider the record particularly impressive. Come back and talk to me JJ when you put up those numbers!!

  62. axespray says: Jan 10, 2013 10:31 PM

    I see the impact Clay Matthews makes for my team’s defense – and he’s just a 250 lb. edge rusher – JJ Watt is an interior playmaker – Dude can clog up the middle, swat passes – stop the run – line up anywhere – get consistent pass rush – it’s almost like he’s cheating, dude is a perfectly built weapon for any defense… it’s unfair there’s not more of him so other teams’ defensive coordinators could have fun in this offense heavy era.

  63. dominicthedonkey says: Jan 10, 2013 11:02 PM

    Lawrence Taylor had couple seasons better than JJ Twats had. He was league MVP one year.

  64. superputman says: Jan 10, 2013 11:28 PM

    The next logical Wade Phillips move with a player who’s helped lead them to the playoffs…? Bench him. Can Rob Johnson play DE? Hmm….

  65. tomdace says: Jan 11, 2013 12:50 AM

    His awesomeness as a human being is far more incredible than the type of football player he is. He could have 15 seasons at the level of the one he just had and his football acumen would not exceed the type of person he is. Proud he is a fellow Badger. JJ Watt, Chocolate Pudding…JJ Watt.

  66. autumnwind999 says: Jan 11, 2013 1:00 AM

    This kind of ranking is highly subjective. Who knows for sure, but Watt is an incredible force. He’s as powerful as Reggie White with the length and athleticism of Bruce Smith.
    LT was a different style of defender and played the game at a surreal speed and level. It’s hard to compare the one against the other. Both guys got a ton of sacks and impacted the game on a ton of plays.

  67. donny05 says: Jan 11, 2013 3:41 AM

    Reggie white by far. White was playing against run-first teams, not the pass happy teams of today. Go watch the the super bowl in 1997 and watch White take over and win that game and that game was 10 years after his amazing 21 sacks in 12 games season.

  68. themagicfanguy says: Jan 11, 2013 5:46 AM

    Great season, but he’s no Reggie White.

  69. kingsportal says: Jan 11, 2013 8:10 AM

    Watt set a franchise record with a league-leading 20½ sacks this season. Of his team-high 107 tackles, 39 were for losses. He knocked down 16 passes, making him the only player in NFL history to record at least 15 sacks and 15 defended passes. He laid 42 hits on quarterbacks, forced four fumbles and recovered two.

  70. 8to80texansblog says: Jan 11, 2013 10:36 AM

    lambeaufieldwest says:
    Jan 10, 2013 5:57 PM
    Pro Football Focus answers these types of questions, not Wade Phillips.


    Pro Football Focus did answer this question when they gave JJ Watt the highest rating ever… for any position. He was the first ever to grade a 100+. The second best defensive player,Geno Atkins, graded at a 79 and Von Miller at a 78

    People talk about how LT came on the scene and changed the way the game was played… honestly JJ Watt is doing the same thing. Ask one of the best interior lineman ever (Warren Sapp) what he thinks of Watt. He has redefined whats possible from an interior lineman.

    Watt gave the season sack record a real run at 20.5 from an INTERIOR LINE position. Make no mistake… Thats where he plays. According to PFF he only rushes from the edge 7% of the time.

    We are witnessing one of the greatest seasons ever for a defensive lineman. Ever.

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