The Texans made it to the playoffs last year with very limited contributions from J.J. Watt, thanks to significant contributions from Jadeveon Clowney. This year, with Watt and Clowney both possibly healthy and dominant at the same time, things could get very interesting — and challenging — for those who’ll be facing the Houston defense.
“For opponents to try to figure out where they’re going to send their protection – do they send it to J.J.?” assistant head coach/defense Romeo Crennel told reporters on Wednesday. “Do they send it to Clowney? Exactly how they’re going to do all that as far as from a protection standpoint, I think that’s going to make it extremely difficult on the offense. So, if we can keep both of those guys healthy, and Whitney [Mercilus] as well, I think it will be difficult for them.”
Difficult could end up being an understatement, if Watt can get back to being who he’s been in past years.
“He looks great,” defensive line coach Anthony Weaver told reporters. “He’s gaining confidence every single day. And the one thing I noticed in particular with J.J. is he seems to be having a lot more fun, which is good. This is a kid’s game. This is a kid’s game and we get paid a king’s ransom for it and I think when you’ve reached the heights he has, sometimes you start to feel that pressure. I like to think once you get away from it for a year, maybe you start to appreciate a little more, you start to realize all the blessings you have and he’s going out there each and every day and having fun and getting better doing it.”
It’s a kid’s game to be sure. But it entails grown-up injuries, which require surgery and rehab and pain and frustration. Watt has been through plenty of that in recent years, and it’s fair to wonder how much more of it he can or will tolerate.
None of that matters as long as he’s healthy. And if the offense can improve sufficiently during what could be a golden (albeit possibly limited) age on defense, the Texans could be ready to punch through to the game they hosted in February.