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. FootballOutsiders.com 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.

70 responses to “Wade Phillips: J.J. Watt had the best season ever

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. benroethlisberger7 says: 6 rings > 0 rings

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

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

  6. 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.

  7. “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.

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. goldensmog-
    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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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

  19. 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 😉

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. “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.

  34. 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!!

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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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