Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had one of the best seasons for any defensive player in NFL history last year, and he was only 23 years old. One of his teammates, Brian Cushing, thinks seasons like that will become the norm for Watt.
ESPN’s NFL 32 quoted Cushing as saying Watt could become the greatest defensive player ever.
That’s a bold statement, but we’re becoming accustomed to bold statements about Watt from those who watch him work every day. Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said of Watt at the end of the 2012 season, “He had the best season ever. Nobody’s ever had a season like that.” And Phillips, who has spent 35 years as a defensive line coach, defensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL, knows what he speaks of when he discusses defensive line play.
Watt really is a unique player, a 3-4 defensive end who didn’t just lead the league in sacks with 20.5 but also knocked down another 16 passes and is great against the run as well. It’s silly, in a sense, to talk in “best ever” terms about a guy who’s only played two seasons, but it’s not crazy to think that when Watt is ready to leave the game in 10 or 15 years, he’ll deserve to be mentioned among the very best who have ever played.