Houston Texans Defensive End JJ Watt was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year Saturday night at the NFL Honors Awards at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre in New Orleans. Watt is the first Houston Texans player to earn a League-wide player of the year award and is the first defensive lineman to be recognized since Miami DE Jason Taylor won it in 2006. He is the 17th defensive lineman to be named AP Defensive Player of the Year and the eighth defensive end.
Watt (6-5, 295) led the NFL with 20.5 sacks, which tied for the sixth-most in a season in NFL history, and his 16 passes defensed were the most in League history by a defensive lineman. He became the only player in NFL history with at least 15 sacks and 15 passes defensed in the same season. led the Texans defense with 107 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, 42 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles; and he tied for second on the team with two fumble recoveries. According to a review of the official play-by-plays from each game this season, Watt contributed to 95 plays that either resulted in no gain or negative yardage, including tackles for loss and tackles for no gain, passes defensed, quarterback hits on passes that fell incomplete, sacks, forced fumbles that resulted in turnovers and fumble recoveries.
Houston Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips, who has coached some of the best in the NFL during his years as a defensive coordinator had nothing but praise for his superstar.
“He should be unanimous, I would think. He’s just a great player and he’s had the best year ever,” said Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on January 10, when asked about Watt’s play this season. “He’s had the absolute best year any defensive lineman has ever had. And I had Elvin Bethea, who’s in the Hall of Fame, and he had some great years, and Bruce Smith had some great years, and Reggie White had some great years, but they didn’t make that many tackles, that many tackles for loss, that many knock downs and that many sacks in one year. Nobody has done that, so I can’t say enough great things about him because he’s a great player.”
Watt was one of two unanimous selections to the AP All-Pro team, along with Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson, and was voted into his first Pro Bowl as a starter on the AFC team. He was also named the Pro Football Weekly/PFWA Defensive Most Valuable Player this season and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year by Kansas City-based group NFL 101. He earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for September and December, to become the only player in franchise history to win the award twice in one season. Watt was also voted as the Texans’ Most Valuable Player by his teammates and was named to USA Football’s All-Fundamentals Team for his ability to maneuver into passing lanes and bat down passes.