On every snap, the New England Patriots had to know where he was. The Houston Texans moved defensive end J.J. Watt all over the defensive line when the teams played on Dec. 1, and the Patriots' center followed him every time.
That need for awareness was a common theme this season.
"That was one of the first things we talked about today at our install meeting was the fact that we have to be aware of where he’s at on the field at all times because he has the ability, and, if you let him, he will completely destroy an offensive game plan," Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said the week before the teams played. "There are some things that obviously we’re going to do to try and help ourselves, I guess neutralize him. But I think the biggest thing is we all have got to be aware of where he’s at."
"He’s the kind of player that every team wishes they had because of all that he brings," Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "His leadership I’m sure is obvious based on the style of play that he brings that you can count on every snap. He plays so hard and he’s so aggressive, and he’s so playmaker-oriented."
That's why when NFL players were polled about the most feared player in the league, Watt got votes. ESPN.com's NFL Nation anonymously polled more than 320 players leaguewide on a variety of questions. We start revealing those results with the most feared player in the league.
The winner and the runner-up came from the same team and are feared for very different reasons. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh finished with 19 percent of the vote, while Lions receiver Calvin Johnson finished with 18.1 percent of the vote.
Those two were overwhelming choices, but Watt sneaked into third place with 7.5 percent of the vote. Join us here at 1 p.m. ET for a chat debating the league's most feared player. I'll argue Watt's case as our Detroit Lions reporter Mike Rothstein and Kevin Seifert, NFC North reporter emeritus, will discuss the two Lions players.