NFL

NFL AM: Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt To IR

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Coming off the Houston Texans embarrassing 27-0 loss to the New England Patriots Thursday night in front of a national television audience, Houston received perhaps the worst possible news on Tuesday. All-world defensive end J.J. Watt re-aggravated his back injury and will have to be placed on injured reserve.

This is obviously a major blow to the Texans as Watt is the face of the franchise and has been the best defensive player in the NFL since his rookie season of 2011.  His 76 sacks leads all active players during that time and if he were to retire today, he would be a Hall of Famer.

As great as Watt is, and as bad as things look for the team without him, his loss is not their biggest issue. Although Houston is in first place in the AFC South, they don’t appear to be a true Super Bowl contender with the way quarterback Brock Osweiler is playing.

Osweiler has two great weapons on the outside in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, and a very good running back in Lamar Miller, and he’s looked mediocre at best.

That’s what happens when you make someone else’s backup your starter and pay him elite starter money.  He doesn’t immediately get better because he’s earning more.

Even without Watt, the Texans defense will be okay.  Whitney Mercilus is still an excellent pass rusher and Vince Wilfork is playing at a reasonably high level.  The secondary is good and when linebacker Brian Cushing is healthy, he’s among the best in the business.  The wildcard in all of this is former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.  If Clowney can stay healthy, this might be the opportunity he needs to thrive.

As crazy as it sounds, the team can still field a very good defense without Watt.  If Osweiler can raise his level of play, Houston will be just fine.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.