Patriots coach Bill Belichick coached one of the best defensive players in NFL history, in Giants outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
And when he watches Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, he sees a lot of similarities in their games.
Via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Belichick said most of the comparisons between the only three-time defensive players of the year were intangible, however.
“Motor, effort, strength, quickness, instincts [and] the ability to make game-changing plays at critical times in the game,” Belichick said. “Knowing when the big play – critical third-down or fourth-quarter play or red-area play – knowing those critical plays in the game. As good as Taylor would play all game, that was the time when he would play at his best.”
That doesn’t mean Belichick isn’t awed by Watt’s physical gifts.
“Everything with him is kind of at the top of the chart – powerful, strong, very instinctive. He’s a smart player, he’s got great quickness for his size (and) a lot of people miss him trying to block him. He wins with his quickness in the pass rush, He’s long, hard to throw over, hard to block in the running game because of his length, strength and technique.
“With all that being said, probably the most important, impressive thing is his motor – plays hard every snap. There’s never a play off with him. He makes plays in pursuit, down the field, screen passes, ball thrown to receivers – he’s hustling making plays 15, 20 yards down field. You just don’t see those plays from hardly anybody, but especially guys that are his size and that play as much as he does. He plays everywhere across the board – plays outside, plays inside. He’s effective everywhere. He’s a tough matchup on everybody.”
And Belichick would know about matchup problems, having worked with one of the most difficult ones for 11 years when he was with the Giants as linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.