Texans defensive end J.J. Watt underwent back surgery Thursday and will likely miss the rest of the season as a result, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link). Watt was already expected to miss the remainder of a year on account of a back injury, but the surgery is a new development. He has now undergone two back procedures since July, when he had surgery on a herniated disc. The good news is that Watt will be fine for 2017, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
This season will go down as one to forget for Watt, who didn’t miss any games during his first five years in the NFL. But Watt aggravated his back in the Texans’ 27-0 loss to the Patriots in Week 3, leading Houston to place him on injured reserve Wednesday. Watt hadn’t been his usual dominant self to that point, as the 27-year-old picked up 1.5 sacks in the Texans’ first three games and ranked a pedestrian 72nd in overall performance among Pro Football Focus’ 116 qualified interior D-linemen.
Entering the season, Watt had earned Pro Bowl trips and first-team All-Pro honors in each of the previous four campaigns. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner also nabbed that honor in back-to-back seasons. Since going 11th overall in the 2011 draft, the ex-Wisconsin standout has amassed 76 sacks, 45 passes defended and 15 forced fumbles.
The loss of the incredibly productive Watt is clearly a devastating blow to a 2-1 Houston team with hopes of earning its second consecutive AFC South title. As Roster Resource shows, the Texans’ defensive end group outside of Watt includes Jadeveon Clowney, Joel Heath, Devon Still, Christian Covington, Brandon Dunn, and the recently signed Antonio Smith. Nobody would confuse any of those options with the superhuman Watt, though Clowney was the first overall pick of the 2014 draft. Based on talent, he stands the best chance of posting above-average numbers, but his track record isn’t in Watt’s stratosphere.
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