LAST Sunday we were robbed of J.J. Watt for the rest of the NFL season. A painful tibial plateau fracture in his left leg saw him rushed to hospital and left the Texans virtually screwed against Kansas City. We know that his absence will impact the Texans season greatly and it could have even bigger ramifications to Watt’s career.
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AT the beginning of his career, Watt was virtually unstoppable. He won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award three times in his first five seasons and didn’t miss a game for the Houston Texans. Lawrence Taylor is the only other player in NFL history to win the award more than twice. Watt also became the first player in the history of football with two seasons of 20+ sacks in his career. So it’s fair to say WAtt was on his way to becoming one of the greatest defensive players of all time and was considered a one man wrecking ball on defense.
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AFTER playing 80 straight games and never missing a start though, Watt has been riddled by injuries in each of the last two years. He managed just three games in 2016 with continual back issues and managed just five games this year without recording a single sack. Despite his lack of sacks, he was still producing at a high level for the Texans and was a large part of the reason that they were front runners to win the AFC South again and return to the playoffs.
WHILE it’s catastrophic for Watt and the Texans season this latest injury setback raises concerns over just how it will impact Watt’s production moving forward. The level that Watt plays at is so high and so intense that many believe his body is starting to break down and fail him. The injuries he has suffered aren’t just bad ankle or knee complaints. A busted back and now a broken leg are injuries that could be attributed to his huge workload and inhumane workouts.
J.J. Watt is 28 years old, which in the NFL isn’t a death sentence, but for a player coming off two major surgeries, it definitely raises concerns. Watt is expected to be ready for the 2018 season and while (if healthy) he is a walk up starter for Houston’s defense we may have seen his best years already. Eight games from a possible 32 after reeling off 80 straight starts could be a recipe for disaster for Houston’s greatest ever defensive lineman.
IT’S a shame that his departure coincides with something he has been chasing his entire career, a competent starting quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Watt’s electric demeanour and infectious personality will see him stay as one of the league premier stars off the field. The biggest question of all though is if Watt can continue to be the defensive juggernaut we have all come to know and love off the field.
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