Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin won three Super Bowl rings during his years with the Cowboys, and so he thinks players should be judged based on their postseason accomplishments. And that’s where, Irvin says, Texans defensive tackle J.J. Watt falls short.
Irvin said on NFL Network that the recent “Top 100” ranking of Watt as the third-best player in the league was overrating Watt, because, according to Irvin, Watt hasn’t won anything. When another NFL Network commentator told Irvin that it isn’t Watt’s fault the Texans haven’t won a title, Irvin took umbrage.
“Whose fault is it? He’s the star of the team,” Irvin said, via the Houston Chronicle. “If the Dallas Cowboys lose on my watch, it’s my fault. If you’re the baddest man on the team, you’ve got to take it both ways when it ain’t going right and you ain’t winning, that’s on you. J.J. Watt’s been the baddest man in the league and they haven’t gotten close to any kind of championship.”
Irvin said Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly is a better player because his team is better.
“I’m taking Luke Kuechly,” Irvin said. “I’m taking the middle linebacker who makes everyone around him play well.”
That is a bad opinion. Watt is not to blame for the fact that he plays defense on a team whose quarterback last year was Brian Hoyer, then Ryan Mallett, then Hoyer again, then T.J. Yates, then Hoyer again, then Yates again, then Brandon Weeden, then Hoyer again. Nor does Kuechly deserve any credit for the fact that he plays defense on a team whose quarterback last year was NFL MVP Cam Newton.
Irvin likes to pretend that the best judge of a player’s quality is the quality of his team because Irvin played on one of the greatest dynasties in recent NFL history. But if Irvin hadn’t had the fortune of being drafted in 1988 onto a team that would then draft Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman in 1989, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith in 1990, and also add a dozen more Pro Bowlers, he wouldn’t have those three Super Bowl rings. Irvin was a great contributor to those 1990s Cowboys championship teams, but no player does it alone.
Watt is a great player. If Irvin can’t see that, it says more about Irvin than it does about Watt.