Houston defensive end JJ Watt is one of two players to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times, but Watt had another season end short due to injury in 2019. Here are Watt’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year as well as the Texans’ over/under win total.
Watt won the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award three times in his first five seasons. The only other player to win it three times is New York Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, arguably the best defensive player in league history. Although primarily a defensive end, Watt occasionally shifts to defensive tackle in some situations
In 2014, Watt became the first player in NFL history to record two 20+ sack seasons in a career. He had 20.5 that year and 20.5 in 2012. Also in 2014, Watt caught three TD passes while playing occasionally on offense. It might have been the best overall season by a defender ever and he should have won NFL MVP.
Injuries have started to really slow Watt’s career as he has played all 16 games just once in the past four seasons. Last year, he suffered a torn pectoral injury in Houston’s 27-24 win over the Raiders. The play on which the Texans defensive end was injured seemed innocuous enough. Watt split the gap and penetrated the Raiders backfield.
At the time, Watt ranked second on the team in sacks with four and entered that week leading the NFL in quarterback hits with 20. Watt created the first pressure on 62 pass rushes, easily the most in the NFL. No other player had more than 49 first pressures created when he tore the pectoral muscle in Week 8.
While Watt didn’t play in the 2019 regular season after that injury, he did return for the playoffs. In a Wild-Card win over the Bills, Watt sacked Buffalo QB Josh Allen once during the 22-19 overtime victory. The sack forced the Bills, who were up 13–0 at the time, to settle for a field goal rather than a touchdown, allowing the Texans to get back in the game and eventually win it in OT.
The Texans’ defense ranked last in the league in 2019 in the red zone, allowing a touchdown to be scored on 71.4% of opposing drives entering that area of the field. That surely was due in part to Watt missing half the year. Only 6.1% of opposing drives that ended in the red zone resulted in no points during the Texans’ season. This was a main decision in promoting Anthony Weaver to defensive coordinator.
Watt, who has two years remaining on his contract for $33 million, recognizes he isn’t in a position to ask for a new deal. Watt underwent back two surgeries for a herniated disc in 2016, which limited him to just three games. In 2017, Watt’s left leg was broken during a Week 5 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. He was done for the season.
He was still an impact player the last time he was healthy in 2018; Watt led the AFC with 16 sacks while being named first-team All-Pro for the first time since 2015. At 31 years of age, Watt says his goal is to retire as a member of the Texans organization. Watt is owed $15.5 million in 2020 and $17.5 million in 2021.
“I think if I went back and asked for an extension, more money, anything right now, I think that would be the wrong move,” Watt said recently. “I’m just going out there and trying to prove my worth and to help this team win games and do everything that I can to earn and make sure that these people know that I’m worth it.”
Houston opens the season Sept. 10 at defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City, which is a 10-point favorite in the Kickoff Game.