Watt and Smith form an awesome duo
J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL, but Antonio Smith provides more than an adequate Robin to Watt's Batman.
Smith is in his ninth NFL season and playing some of the best football of his career. Last season Smith finished with a career high six and a half sacks and through the first 12 games this year already has five.
J.J’s having a tremendous year," Gary Kubiak said. "The numbers he’s putting up, but really when you go back and look at the film the job that Antonio has done opposite of him has really opened the door for him in a lot of ways. Antonio’s been exceptional for us since he’s been here. He’s an effort player. You better pay a lot of attention to him or he’s going to do the same type of things. I totally agree with Bill. It’s been about two guys really for us. It’s just one guy seems to get a lot of the numbers, which are very well deserved.”
Watt and Smith sit one and two on the Texans in sacks (Smith is tied with OLB Whitney Mercilus for second). The duo isdrawing high comparisons to some of the best one-two combinations in NFL history.
"He’s not the easiest guy to zero in on," Bill Belichick said about Watt. "Even when you do zero in on him he’s still a hard guy to handle, hard guy to block, so very impressive player and Smith playing beside him. He’s pretty good, too. They have good balance and I know, like when I was with the Giants, we had Lawrence Taylor. Probably the best thing that happened to Taylor really was Carl Banks. I think there is probably a little bit of that by having Smith on the other side. You’ve got to deal with Watt, but you have to deal with Smith, too, so it’s a great situation for the Texans.”
“If I’m not mistaken, L.T. was the last one to win the MVP as a defensive player," Watt said. "It’s on the list. That’s the goal. Taylor was one of the greatest defensive players of all time. There is nothing that I can say. That’s a great compliment. I’m very humbled. I’m trying to add that title myself, so we’ll see.”
It has been a great situation for Houston and it was evident last Sunday against Tennessee. Up 14-3 in the second quarter, Watt stripped Chris Johnson for his first forced fumble of his career. Guess who scooped up the loss ball? Antonio Smith. Smith was ruled down after picking up the ball even though he wasn't actually down according to the replay.
"Antonio is great," Watt added. "I have said all season long, you can’t double-team me and if you want to double-team me, you have to deal with Antonio. You have to deal with Connor (Barwin) and all those guys. Having Antonio on the other side is a huge help to me because like I just said, it’s pick your poison. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it and he’s also just a great teammate. He’s a guy that’s always looking out for everybody. Obviously, he’s a vet and I’m only a second-year player. He gives me advice and he’s a good guy to have around. He’s a guy who genuinely enjoys and cares about his teammates.”
Watt is the leader for Defensive Player of the Year. The way he plays is redefining the game and his position. No one has ever recorded as many sacks and passes batted down in a season than Watt this year, and we're only 12 games in. But something that Smith can still teach Watt is about experience.
“He’s been around," Watt said. "He’s been to a Super Bowl. He’s been through the ups and the downs. I think one of the best things about Antonio and what makes him a great leader is he’s seen it all from starting off on the practice squad and getting cut to making it to the Super Bowl to being here and being a starter and a captain. He’s had so many life lessons throughout this game and he passes them on to us. It’s great and he always knows when to be funny, when to be serious, when to joke around. He’s just a good guy to have around.”