Why J.J. Watt Is Having the Most Impressive 2012 Season in Entire NFL

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IDecember 4, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 02:  J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans looks on from the sideline during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 2, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

During a season that has witnessed miraculous comebacks from Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning, potential record-breaking statistical years from Calvin Johnson and Aldon Smith, and quite possibly the greatest trio of rookie quarterbacking seasons ever, the year put together by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt still remains the most impressive.

In fact, if there was ever going to be another defensive player win the NFL's most valuable player award, it'd be hard to find a better candidate than Watt.

Only two defensive players have won the AP's MVP award since 1957. If Watt's season doesn't qualify, I'm not sure a third will ever happen. 

In just 12 games this season, Watt has already tallied 15.5 sacks and 15 passes defensed. No player in the history of the game has ever accomplished such a statistical feat. 

Watt's other stats include 59 tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 14 "stuffs," a number ESPN uses for tackles for losses that are not sacks.

Projected out over 16 games, Watt is on pace for 79 tackles, 21 sacks, 20 passes defensed and 19 stuffs. No defensive season in recent history comes close to comparing with those projected numbers.

Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, Watt was once again an uncontainable force. He recorded a sack, batted down a pass and tipped a ball that was intercepted in the Texans' 24-10 win. 

According to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said what Watt is doing is "off the charts."


Pro Football Focus, a football analysis site that grades every player on every play of every game, agrees. 

According to their system, Watt is quickly becoming the highest graded player they've had since starting the website in 2008. His +73.7 is the highest mark in the NFL this season, and by a large margin.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is second with a +65.9. 

PFF has Watt down for 55 total quarterback disruptions, or the combined number of sacks, quarterback hits and hurries. No other 3-4 defensive end has even 35. Watt's 54 "stops," or the number PFF uses to track tackles that constitute an offensive failure, is also first among 3-4 defensive ends. 

Overall, Watt leads in both "run stop percentage" and "pass-rushing productivity" at his position, which would be the first time in PFF's history a player has done so. 

Given the numbers and impact, Watt's profile adds up to him being the most dominant player the NFL has seen in 2012. That includes all the rest of the fantastic seasons currently in progress. 

Peterson (1,446 rushing yards less than a year after reconstructive knee surgery) and Manning (29 touchdowns, 104.2 passer rating after missing 2012) are certainly nice stories.

Johnson (on pace for an NFL record 1,904 receiving yards) and Smith (on pace for an NFL record 24 sacks) could re-write the record books.

And Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are redefining what it means to be a rookie quarterback in the NFL. 

But Watt is putting together the most dominant season a 3-4 defensive end has ever had, one that will likely be without comparison when 16 games are completed. No player has been more destructive or had a bigger impact on every single play. 

If that doesn't characterize the most impressive season, I don't know what does.