Bill Parcells used to ward off early praise of a player by saying, "Let's not put him in Canton yet."
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is a different sort of coach. Both Phillips and Parcells share an ex-employer in the Dallas Cowboys, but that's about it. Phillips is all about hype, especially when it comes to defensive end J.J. Watt.
That is a bold statement by Phillips, who might know more about defensive talent than any NFL coach. (And Parcells for that matter.) Watt is the rare 3-4 defensive end that can dominate rushing the passer and stopping the run. He's the rare 3-4 defensive end who can make a huge impact as a rookie.
There are a lot of very talented players on the Texans' defense, but a strong argument can be made that Watt is going to be the best of the bunch.
"I've seen a lot of guys, and I compare him to Howie Long) in that he has the same quickness to beat (offensive) linemen off the ball. He's a smart guy who gets it," Phillips said.
"I expect J.J. to become a megastar," teammate Antonio Smith said. "I told him, 'People are going to be looking for you this year (and), you're not going to surprise them anymore. They're going to get up to play because of your reputation.' "
Smith is right. Watt quickly has built up a big reputation. Phillips has set the bar for Watt's career as high as humanly possible.