How Realistic Is J.J. Watt's Goal of Creating the 20-20-20 Club?

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How Realistic Is J.J. Watt's Goal of Creating the 20-20-20 Club?
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

What J.J. Watt wants to do this season is simple, really.

He has plans to improve upon his 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Award winning campaign, which was, arguably, the finest season ever turned in by a defensive lineman. 

More specifically, as told to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, Watt wants to create the 20-20-20 club: 20 sacks, 20 tackles for loss and 20 deflected passes.

He said: "It's like the football triple crown. That's what I am going for."

Prisco also noted that the former first-round pick wants to break Michael Strahan's single-season sack record of 22.5, and has desires to win the league MVP.

Piece of cake. 

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

While hoisting the Lombardi Trophy is another one of Watt's goals, let's examine how realistic his individual goal is, and what the colossal defensive lineman will have to do to become the charter member of the "20-20-20" club, that, right now, doesn't exist. 

Last season, Watt finished with 20.5 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss and 16 deflected passes. 

Based on that ridiculous stat line, it's pretty reasonable to believe that Watt can start the 20-20-20 club this year.

To start, keep in mind that, using simple math, we know he needs to log 1.25 per game of each stat to reach 20 in each category. 

Here's a look at Watt's sack pace in 2012:

J.J. Watt's 2012 Sack Pace
Sacks Needed Pace
After 4 games 6.5 5
After 8 games 10 10
After 12 games 16 15
After 16 games 20 20

ProFootballReference

He was ahead of the pace after four games, even with it through eight games, ahead of after 12 contests and finished with 20.5 at season's end.

It's impossible to predict how what presumably will be increased offensive line attention will affect Watt in 2013, but he proved to be capable of reaching 20 sacks, and he got there with steady production throughout the year, which is important. 

He had seven multi-sack games and was held without a sack in only three contests.

Because tackles for loss aren't recorded officially for defenders on a per-game basis, we can't be exactly sure the path Watt took to get to 23, but he averaged a 1.43 tackles for loss per outing, better than the needed average of 1.25.

Therefore, even with a dip in per-game efficiency in 2012, Watt shoulbe able to reach 20 tackles for loss.

Switching gears to his deflected pass total, this was the Defensive Player of the Year's 2012 pace:

J.J. Watt's 2012 Deflected Pass Pace
Deflected Passes Needed Pace
After 4 games 5 5
After 8 games 10 10
After 12 games 15 15
After 16 games 16 20

ESPN

Watt was on pace to get to 20 through four, eight and even 12 games but mustered only one deflected pass down the stretch. As the only 20-20-20 club stat category he failed to achieve last season, we can expect this to be most difficult hurdle standing in Watt's way. 

He had six multi-pass deflection games and was held without a pass deflection in eight games. Watt will either need to be more consistent knocking down passes or have more multi-pass deflection performances in 2012.

As alluded to above, tackles for loss aren't recorded in official game logs, and besides Watt, no defensive lineman has ever even neared 20 deflected passes in one season, so we can't use history to project what the Houston Texans defender could do in those stat categories in 2013.

However, a handful of pass-rushers have eclipsed the 20-sack plateau while leading the league in quarterback takedowns like Watt did in 2012. Here's how those players fared the following season:

How Defenders Fared After League-Leading, 20-Sack Season
Year Sack Total Following Year Sack Total
Lawrence Taylor 1986 20.5 12
Mark Gastineau 1984 22 13.5
Derrick Thomas 1990 20 13.5
Chris Doleman 1989 21 11
Jared Allen 2011 22 12
DeMarcus Ware 2008 20 11
Michael Strahan 2001 22.5 11
Average Age = 27 Average = 12

ProFootballReference

History certainly isn't on Watt's side in the sack total department, that's for sure.

But at 6'5'' and 290 pounds with a unprecedented skill set—outside linebacker athleticism and defensive tackle power—at this point, it might be unfair to compare the 23-year-old to those who've come before him. 

Remember, the 2012 season told us we probably shouldn't bet against J.J. Watt.

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