Reporting John P. Lopez
It’s always dangerous talking in superlatives, especially when dealing with a small sample size of just 20 NFL games.
That’s especially true when you consider Andre Johnson is the most beloved and productive Houston Texan in franchise history. Meanwhile, running back Arian Foster and cornerback Jonathan Joseph rank no lower than second- or third-best at their respective positions. That’s to say nothing of the accomplishments of former players like linebacker DeMeco Ryans, end Mario Williams and cornerback Aaron Glenn.
Still, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt already has put up a compelling argument that he is the most dominant, and perhaps on his way toward becoming the greatest Texan in history, if not already.
Considering Watt’s production and where he ranks compared to his peers, no Texan ever has done as much or stood so high above the competition as Watt.
Looking at the numbers and context – where Watt is now among the NFL’s 3-4 defensive ends and what he already has accomplished statistically – such a contention certainly is arguable, but could not be considered hyperbole or overstatement.
The best current 3-4 ends in football are considered to be the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata, a seven-year veteran, and the 49ers’ Justin Smith, a 12-year veteran. Ngata has seven tackles, two sacks and a pass defended. Smith has six tackles, no sacks and no passes defended.
Watt, a second-year player, leads 3-4 ends with eight tackles, three sacks and five passes defended.
Some already consider Watt the best 3-4 end in football. Here is how Watt compares through his first 20 NFL games with five players regarded as the best at the position.
For those who would argue that Andre Johnson is the greatest Texan in franchise history, clearly it’s difficult to argue his body of work.
But even at the height of his greatness, Johnson never was widely considered the absolute best at his position. There always was a Randy Moss, a Terrell Owens or Larry Fitzgerald and, now, Calvin Johnson. Certainly, 20-games into his career Johnson was not head and shoulders above the rest.
But Watt is, already. And if he is not the best and most productive Texan ever yet, he will be. Soon.