With unfortunate timing for the Houston Texans, J.J. Watt required surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back after injuring himself working out for the season. Watt wasted no time and immediately had the procedure done, putting the timetable for his return up in the air, anywhere from 8-10 weeks as the best case scenario.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/texans/story/1688333-back-surgery-will-land-j-j...The question now turns to the Texans on how they will cope with this alarming situation and how to address it moving forward. There will be plenty of lip service on how other players will need to step up and pick up the slack but the reality of the situation is that any time that Watt misses on the football field, things will change for others on the defense.
Defense Has To Adapt & Players Have To Step Up
Offenses build schemes to control Watt week to week and that allows the defense to take advantage of Watt’s ability to be a game changer on every single snap. Now, with potentially no Watt, offenses will have chances to even out protection schemes until another Texans pass rusher can show he too can dominate.
One thing that stands out was a conversation that former Texans safety Kendrick Lewis had with us regarding how much Watt helps the defense. Lewis explained that by Watt’s alignment, others on the defense knew what the offense wanted to do before the ball was snapped. Watt shares with his defensive teammates his keen understanding and foretelling of how plays will develop, as well as an advantage of knowing the opposing offense’s tendencies.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/texans/story/1687531-foster-has-nothing-but-lov...Most notably, players like Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are going to have to take the next step up in that department but there will have to be plenty of work put in during training camp to find answers.
Do the Texans Look For Help?
The Texans are missing a complete player in Watt and there will now be internal discussions on what they want to do to help prevent a drastic fall off with the defense. Do the Texans look for another 3-4 end or possibly search for an edge rusher? It is still early in the process but the Texans could be bargain hunting towards the end of the preseason with players set to be released or waived.
Randy Starks, Jeremy Mincey, or Billy Winn could make sense at defensive end and an off-the-edge a player like Dwight Freeney could help in the pass rushing department.
It is early, but the Texans should be exploring all options as we speak.
Time to Panic?
Watt’s workload was a discussion point at one time early this off season (READ HERE) and it looks like this prediction might be coming true. Core injuries are concerning and Watt has had two recently, with his groin and now his back, both of which have required surgery. The fact that Watt has had two of these types of injuries, the level of concern should be rising for the best player on the Texans roster.
Time will tell when Watt will end up back with the team ready to go but, with a back injury, time is of the essence and taking easing back onto the field will be key. Tempering expectations on his return is important and health is priority number one, but it is clear that his high work load has caught up with Watt.
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