At a time when plenty of defensive coaches have focused on figuring out how to shut down the read-option offense, plenty of offensive coaches are trying to come up with ways to neutralize the reigning NFL defensive player of the year.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt became dominant in his second NFL season, despite an elbow injury that left him at less than 100 percent all year long. As John McClain of the Houston Chronicle explains it, the other coaches in the AFC South are looking for players who can contain Watt in the upcoming draft.
“When you’re drafting, you’re thinking, ‘Who’s going to block Watt the next 10 years?'” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “It used to be that the other teams in the division had to worry about Peyton Manning, but now we have to figure out how we’re going to disrupt Watt a little bit.”
The Titans signed guard Andy Levitre on the first day of free agency. They also could be targeting guard Chance Warmack with the 10th pick in the draft. (Warmack definitely hopes they are.)
Colts coach Chuck Pagano agrees with the assessment of Watt. “A great player that’s very disruptive,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, via McClain. “He can do so many things to hurt you. He has to be accounted for.”
The new coach on the block is bracing for Watt, too. “There are certain guys that create certain issues,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “And Watt creates a lot of issues. You have to have personnel to control some of those issues.
“He can dominate the game. You have to be aware of him. You’d like to think that it’s all about what we do, and there’s a lot of truth to that on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But on Wednesday, players have to understand the issues: ‘Hey, this guy’s good. Here’s our plan for him,’ and everybody has to understand it.”
Having a plan and being able to execute it are two different things. Still, at least teams are taking the advice of Jets owner Woody Johnson, who openly lamented his coaching staff’s failure to account for Watt after the Texans beat the Jets last season.