J.J. Watt wins Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt wins Defensive Player of the Year
February 2, 2013, 5:30 pm
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Watt on winning Defensive Player of Year

A season to remember.

What J.J. Watt was able to accomplish in 2012 was nothing short of remarkable. Strike that, it was nothing short of Greek mythology. Watt led the Texans with 107 tackles, led the NFL with 20.5 sacks, 39 tackles for loss, 42 quarterback hits, 16 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one country, definitely at least one city in utter awe.

A NFL leading 20.5 sacks combined with 16 passes defensed took playing defensive line to another level.

For his incredible season, Watt was named as the Associated Press’ Defensive Player of the Year for the 2012 season on Saturday night.

Since passes defensed were officially tracked beginning in 1991, only 11 players have recorded 10 sacks and 10 passes defensed in a single season. Watt is the only player to record at least 15 sacks and 15 passes defused in the same season. Watt's combined total from sacks and passes defensed (36.5) is the highest in the history of the NFL. Rod Woodson won the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 with a total of 32 between the two (tw0 sacks, 30 passes defensed).

Let’s put Watt's ability to bat down passes into perspective. Since coming into the NFL, Watt leads all defensive linemen with 20 passes defensed. Watt finished tied for 10th in the NFL with 16 in 2012. The next player on the list that isn't a cornerback or a safety is Redskins linebacker London Fletcher who ranked 37th with 11. The next highest defensive lineman is Corey Liuget from the Chargers who finished with nine.

Remarkable.

Texans' defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was asked to sum up Watt's season during a press conference heading into the playoffs.

“He had the best season ever," Phillips said. "I mean, nobody has had a season like that. Nobody has made that many tackles, that many sacks, that many pass breakups and that many tackles for loss or tackles for no gain in the history of football. Nobody has had a year like that. It’s the best I’ve ever seen, sure.”

As Phillips alluded to, Watt was so much more than a sack specialist or a player that had just a knack for knocking down passes. Watt affected the game on every single play. Watt was a part of 95 plays that resulted in zero or negative yards. Take a minute to let that sink in.

OK, you good?

Need another minute?

Rightfully so.

The best part of Watt’s astounding 95 plays is that 46 happened on first down. What makes Watt so good is that he doesn't take plays off.

“Yeah, this is the best defensive line play of anybody since I’ve been in football," Phillips added that day in early January. "You just go by the stats. I mean, nobody’s ever done anything like that. Nobody’s had 20 sacks, 16 whatever its, knockdowns, twenty-something tackles for loss, 95 plays where they had no gain. Nobody’s had a year like that. He is by far the best defensive player. He should obviously be the Defensive Player of the Year in the league.”

And now he is. It might be the least surprising win this season next to Daniel Day-Lewis' chances of taking home Oscar gold for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln later this month at the 85th Academy Awards. Watt might one day be compared to Day-Lewis in the sense that whenever either is up for an award the chances of anyone else winning are slim and none.

When Watt took home his first win of the football award season (In his own right Day-Lewis has already taken home the Golden Globe and SAG Award during this the movie award season as well) Phillips was quick to comment on Watt again. Watt was named the Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America Defensive MVP earlier this month and Phillips placed the second year pro among the best to ever play.

"He should be unanimous, I would think," Phillips said. "He’s just a great player and he’s had the best year ever. He’s had the absolute best year any defensive lineman has ever had. And I had Elvin Bethea, who’s in the Hall of Fame, and he had some great years, and Bruce Smith had some great years, and Reggie White had some great years, but they didn’t make that many tackles, that many tackles for loss, that many knock downs and that many sacks in one year. Nobody has done that, so I can’t say enough great things about him because he’s a great player.”

Now is when you take your bow, Mr. Watt.

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