Reading the coverage of the Houston Texans...
This week has been a big week for stories about J.J. Watt, and there have been some excellent pieces.
We'll start with this one by Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, who did something that's rarely done anymore -- he found new anecdotes about Watt. This one in particular caught my eye:
Watt's story is back in a hospital, whether we know it or not. One of the things Watt does most is visit hospitals. Often, if not all of the time, he does this secretly, or tries to and then news (and photos) of his visits leak.
Watt's mother, Connie, believes this impulse in her son to visit the extremely sick stems from when Watt was younger. Prior to his senior year at Pewaukee High School, his mother remembers him getting seriously ill. They thought it was mononucleosis, but some initial tests showed it might be leukemia.
It wasn't leukemia, thankfully, but that moment changed everything for Watt. "I think he took to heart what it might have meant had that leukemia diagnosis been true," she said. "I don't think he ever forgot."
That became apparent as Watt befriended the Berry family. Aaron, Peter and Willa Berry were orphaned three years ago in July after their parents were killed in a horrific car accident in the Houston area. Two of the kids, eight and nine years old, were paralyzed from the waist down.
Freeman's piece is long but worth the time.
The latest edition of David Fleming's Flem File discusses what Watt could do if he was a full-time tight end. He concludes, after talking with other tight ends and the like, that he'd like to see Watt become a full-time two-way player. An excerpt from his story:
Blocking? Name one defensive end or linebacker Watt couldn't block. And just think for a minute about this 290-pound tight end rumbling down the deep seam against a Cover 2. Who's going to tackle him -- a safety? Please. "That's an armored SUV flying down the middle of the field," says Conwell.
The only potential stumbling block with my plan might be prep time and mental bandwidth. I'm sure Watt's got his hands full with film study and defensive preparation. He'd have to double or even triple that to become a full-time tight end. After quarterbacks, tight ends have the most to prepare for each week because they're usually involved in pass protection, the blocking scheme, the run game, the entire pass offense and all the pre-snap motion and defensive reads that serve as the quarterback's safety valve.
Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar makes his case for why Watt should be the league's MVP:
This year, Aaron Rodgers is the favorite to win the award, and he's certainly got the performances and numbers to back that up. Rodgers is arguably playing as well or better than he did in 2011, the year he won the award. Most will tell you that Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt is second in line for that award this season, and given the scarcity of such awards allotted over time to defensive players, Watt should be honored to be in the discussion at such a high plateau.
That's one way to look at it. Another way to look at it, which is the way I tend to do, is that if anybody but Watt wins the league's Most Valuable Player award this season, the NFL might as well do away with the damned thing. Because as impressive as Rodgers is this season (a 66.3% completion rate for 3,325 yards, 32 touchdowns and three interceptions), what Watt is accomplishing has literally never been seen before. Not at any level of football.
My thoughts exactly on that last part.