Hopefully building a large trophy case is on J.J. Watt's to do list in the early weeks of the NFL offseason.
On Tuesday, Watt was named the NFL 101 AFC Defensive Player of the Year. The award will be presented with trophies at the 43rd Annual NFL 101 Awards gala in Kansas City Saturday, March 2, at the Westin Crown Center. The prestigious black-tie awards event was founded in 1969 and is presented this year by Perfect Output and ECCO Select.
Watt recorded an NFL-best 20.5 sacks for 139 yards lost in 2012. He also broke up 16 passes – five of which ended up as interceptions – and forced four fumbles. Watt is a first-time 101 Award winner and Pro Bowl selection and has started every game for the Texans after being drafted with the 11th overall pick two years ago.
A national media committee, comprised of 101 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL, selected the winners in each award category in a nationwide vote at the conclusion of the regular season.
The shocking fact regarding Watt is that he feels that he can still get better and is just scratching the surface of his ability.
“Just wait ‘til next year,” Watt said on Monday. “I’m 23 years old. I’m two years into the league. I’m still learning what I’m doing out there. I’m just trying to have some fun. I have a lot of time left in this league, I hope, and I have a lot of improvement to make. My second year is not going to be my best year in the NFL, I can promise you that.”
Watt went on to be more specific in what he feels he needs to work on this offseason.
“My pass rush can get better," Watt added. "My run stopping can get better. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I can do to get better. You can trust that I’m going to put every single ounce of energy that I have into making all those things come true. This whole offseason, all my work, everything is going to be focused on making myself better so that I can help this team get to the next level.”
Other 2012 winners listed below:
- AFC Offensive Player of the Year, Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
- NFC Offensive Player of the Year, Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
- NFC Defensive Player of the Year, Aldon Smith, Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
- AFC Coach of the Year, Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts
- NFC Coach of the Year, Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
- AFC Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Houston Texans
- First-time 101 Award winner
- First in the NFL with 20.5 sacks for 139 yards lost, recorded 81 tackles and forced four fumbles
- First in the league with 16 passes defended, leading to five interceptions
- Broke the Texans record for sacks in a single season
- Selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time
- Led the Texans to a 12-4 record, the AFC South Division title and a second straight trip to the playoffs