The 2012 NFL season has been the season of impressive performances. Not on a small scale, but from a historical perspective, and it includes the best season ever turned in by a defensive lineman.
By the time you read this, Adrian Peterson might have finished the best single-season rushing year ever. And Calvin Johnson has already set the mark for most receiving yards in a season, finishing just shy of 2,000.
But the most dominant performance belongs to the Houston Texans' stud defensive end.
J.J. Watt has been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, and he hasn't limited himself in finding ways to do so.
First, there are the sacks.
Watt kicked off the season with 6.5 sacks in September and never looked back. He finished with 20.5, which is just two short of the record.
Yet what sets Watt apart is his ability to swat down passes. For the season, he recorded 16 passes defensed.
Think about that. Even when he doesn't get to the quarterback, he still single-handily cancels out a passing attempt per game. That's phenomenal.
Plus, he's a beast in the running game. He piled up 81 tackles, including 23 behind the line of scrimmage.
His complete game sets him apart from all other defensive linemen. There aren't any holes in his game that can be exploited, except that he can't play both sides of the field at the same time.
However, we still haven't gotten to the bedrock of the argument: J.J. Watt lines up as a 3-4 defensive end.
The 3-4 defensive end is not a glory position. These ends have many more responsibilities than just chasing quarterbacks. They are expected to act more like 4-3 defensive tackles (occupying space, stuffing the run, etc.) to allow the outside linebackers to rack up the sacks.
Watt does everything that is expected of him and more, as his numbers can attest. The fact that he has put together one of the greatest statistical seasons by a defensive lineman while lining up inside makes his 2012 season the most impressive in history.