PHOENIX -- J.J. Watt is the most dominant defensive player the NFL has seen since Reggie White roamed the field. On Saturday, Watt earned the hardware to prove it.
Watt was announced Saturday as the Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons at NFL Honors. He's the first player to be unanimously selected for the award. Only 25 years old, Watt joins only five other players in NFL history as two-time winners of the award. Only Lawrence Taylor won the awards faster. And it wouldn't surprise if Watt joined L.T. someday soon as the only defender to win the award three times.
This award was a no-brainer. Watt destroyed offenses so regularly that he has been a legitimate candidate to take home the first league MVP award for a defensive player since Taylor. (We would have voted for Watt, but Aaron Rodgers took home the award.) Watt's 13 MVP votes were the most for a defender since L.T. won the award. Playing in a new defensive system under coordinator Romeo Crennel, Watt totaled a ridiculous amount of pressure on the quarterback: 21 sacks, 44 quarterback hits and 54 hurries according to Pro Football Focus. To put those numbers in perspective, no other defender had more than 21 quarterback hits. And this all came from a 3-4 defensive end position that isn't normally able to get sacks.
Numbers don't fully do Watt justice. More than any player in the league, he looks like a man facing off against boys. He's far too quick for interior linemen when he lines up inside. This season he was on the outside more often and showed that his strength and bull rush can work from any position.
This is partly why Watt was a no-brainer for this award. He is the rare defensive player who takes the average fan's eye away from the ball on every play. We wait for ridiculous things to happen, and he delivers each week.
Watt's propensity for big plays included four forced fumbles and 29 tackles for loss, which easily led the league. He also turned into the most efficient offensive weapon in the league; the Texans threw to him three times and he scored three touchdowns as a tight end.
Watt didn't win MVP, but this season will not soon be forgotten. It was the most consistent display of dominance we've seen from any defender since White and Deion Sanders in the 1990s. It's rare to know that a player is an all-time great so early in his career, but Watt breaks all the rules.
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