This week in the spotlight I decided to take a closer look at the 2015 'Defensive Player of the Year', J.J. Watt.
The University of Wisconsin graduate, an 11th overall pick by the Houston Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft, is without doubt the best defensive lineman in the league today. Excluding quarterbacks, Watt is currently the league's fourth highest paid player behind Ndamukong Suh, Olivier Vernon and Justin Houston.
Since making his debut against the Indianapolis Colts back in Week 1 of the 2011 season, Watt has become a permanent fixture in Bill O'Brien's lineup. The 27 year-old, originally shunned by many NFL fans as an unwise and incapable acquisition to his franchise, has gone from strength to strength and his 2015 season is a prime example.
At 6'5" and 289lbs, the raw strength and elite athleticism J.J. Watt possesses are an unprecedented sight for the defensive end position. His ability to read the game, come off the edge and successfully swat opposing quarterbacks with ease are what makes this man such a feared and dominant player.
After going 3-5 through the first half of the season, the Texans went on to win six of their remaining eight matches and claim the AFC South division - their first since 2012. Watt's performance in particular was central to this change in form as his defence improved to become the league's stingiest during this period. In total, Watt finish the 2015 season with a total of 76 combined tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and a league-high 17.5 sacks. And while he was subsequently rewarded with a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, Watt's main focus remains on the Lombardi Trophy.
In an interview with Andrew Siciliano of the NFL Network, here's what Watt had to say regarding his side's seasonal targets:
"Around here we have much higher expectations than that (winning a playoff game) and going into the season, it's Super Bowl. We have Super Bowl on our mind around here."
Last season's 30-0 Wildcard defeat to the Chiefs left plenty of room for improvement on the offensive side of the ball. Now, with franchise quarterback Brock Osweiler along with Draft acquisitions Will Fuller and Braxton Miller set to enter the team, both fans and pundits alike are expecting big things for the upcoming season. Can they conjure up a deeper run into the playoffs this time around?
September 12th will see Houston host the Chicago Bears for their first match of the 2016 regular season.