Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt destroyed opposing offenses last season on his way toward winning the league’s defensive player of the year award.
While his numbers (and the Texans’ record) aren’t nearly as dominant as a season ago, Watt is still having a terrific season and feels he has even improved from last season.
In an interview with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on Sirius XM NFL Radio, Watt feels he’s a much better player in defending the run this year.
“The place I’ve improved the most is the run game,” Watt said. I was fairly good in the run game last year and I was proud of the way I played last year, but it was one area that I definitely think I’ve stepped up in a little bit more this year.”
Watt posted a gaudy 20.5 sacks as a 3-4 defensive end last season. He has just 6.5 sacks this season in nine games. Watt is still hitting the quarterback with regularity. In fact, he’s getting hits on opposing quarterbacks at a greater rate this season than he did last year. Through nine games last year, Watt had posted 20 quarterback hits. He’s got 25 hits in nine games this season.
“I’m getting back to hitting the quarterback a little bit more so my pass rush game is there too,” Watt said. “It’s just a matter of a couple different factors. You’re always trying as hard as you possibly can but when you’re behind in ball games, when you’re not winning as many ball games, you’re not in as many pass rush situations either.”
Watt is playing well enough to once again be in the conversation for the defensive player of the year award. Only Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants has won the award in consecutive seasons. Joining Taylor in a pretty exclusive group is something Watt would love to accomplish if possible.
“Team goals are always going to come first but on an individual level, it’s so cool to be mentioned even in the same name as a guy like [Lawrence Taylor] and to have the possibility of a back-to-back would be really neat,” Watt said.