Why weren’t J.J. Watt’s stats better then?
Watt had only five sacks last season and career-low pressures for an uninterrupted season. The only statistic that was up to Watt’s standards was 14 tackles for loss. Three intertwining factors caused the drop-off.
First, the defensive line around him was absolutely abysmal. Whitney Mercilus and Jacob Martin who play across from him were… unacceptably bad. The interior line was somehow even worse, grading out at the absolute bottom of the league. So where does this leave Watt? Double teamed. He was the most double-teamed edge rusher in the league, with a nice buffer between him and second. The same issue applied to the run game. Double and triple-team him, or run the other direction leaving Watt on a sad lonely island surrounded by mediocrity.
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The second was the secondary. Where it was the middling talent or the scheme, the Texans were just inept the whole year. It seemed like there was busted coverage every play. It was hard to watch. Maybe the most overlooked part of a good pass rush is a good secondary. The reality is you can’t expect the pass rush to get there very often if the ball is out of the hands of the quarterback less than two seconds after the snap. If you’ve barely engaged with the tackle, and the ball is sailing over your head, you end that rep with a fat zero in your stat column.
The third is what we call, “being so hopelessly behind they just run the ball on you.” Watt isn’t exactly going to stack numbers when he spends the second half with a handful of pass-rush snaps. It’s the main reason his tackles and tackles for loss don’t look half bad. Even with them running away from his side and doubling him, you give the man a 1000 run snaps and he’ll do some damage.