By Curt Macysyn
The New York Football Giants continue to look for internal answers that will help solve what has become another winless September. This week, safety Antrel Rolle, acknowledged that the Giants have to clean up their own act before things get better for them. “All mistakes are correctable, you just have to apply it to doing it better next time around. The same mistakes are the ones that are going to kill you,” Rolle said when he met the media this week.
But even if the Giants improve their play, the Houston Texans come into town this Sunday, boasting a new found weapon in their athletic defensive end, J.J. Watt. Watt, who was originally a tight end at Central Michigan University, caught a one-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to give the Texans an early lead in Oakland. And while the talented Watt could cause match-up problems for Big Blue defensively, he will undoubtedly cause match-up problems for the Giants’ offensive line.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Watt is overall the third ranked defensive end in a 3-4 scheme in the league with a +7.2 rating. Ironically, the Giants faced the top rated defensive end last week in the person of Calais Campbell (+7.3) of the Arizona Cardinals. Watt has the highest pass rush rating (+6.9) of the group, however, and he may be able to bolster his rating in the run game (-0.1) against a Giants’ rushing attack that is ranked near the bottom of the league (27th) by PFF.
None of the rankings that show Watt at the top of the defensive charts should be surprising to anyone who follows the NFL, but using the 6-5, 289 lbs. defender as a tight end is an added twist to the Texans’ offensive repertoire.
“[The Texans’] current coaching staff, though, has some experience using a talented defensive player in on goal line plays. Houston’s linebackers coach is Mike Vrabel, a former All Pro linebacker. While with the New England Patriots and then Kansas City Chiefs, Vrabel caught 10 passes – all of them for touchdowns,” according to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com.
Vrabel was brought on by new Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien after serving the previous three seasons as defensive line coach at his alma mater, the Ohio State University. Watt’s offensive touchdown was his first regular season score in the NFL, but he has a defensive playoff touchdown to his credit.
“My goal in the offseason is to create the best athlete I can create and give it to the coaches and say here, use it how you want. Today they used it a little bit on offense,” Watt said after the Raiders’ game.
Watt’s offensive accomplishments are mere icing on the cake for the fourth-year player, who was drafted 11th overall by the Texans in 2011 out of the University of Wisconsin. The former Badger transferred to Madison from Central Michigan after his freshman campaign in order to gain more focus. After three seasons and a gaudy stat line that includes a little bit of everything, Houston decided to make Watt the highest paid defensive player in the history of the game. His six-year, $100 million contract includes $51.8 million in guaranteed money.
The Texans obviously felt comfortable making a huge investment in Justin Joseph Watt, as the 25-year old star has played in every game in his young NFL career (50 straight games). After an off the charts season in 2012, that included 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles, Watt’s statistics dropped off a bit last season as the team suffered through a 2-14 campaign.
J.J. Watt is the Mike Trout of the NFL, a player with no noticeable flaws, and one who can beat you in a variety of ways. Giants’ tackle Will Beatty will undoubtedly have his hands full on Sunday, and Antrel Rolle should also be prepared for anything, just in case.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.