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Cardinals’ Vance Joseph excited to deploy J.J. Watt in roles he’s thrived in

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph of the Arizona Cardinals reacts during the second half of the NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at State Farm Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 23-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Excitement in the Valley skyrocketed when J.J. Watt announced he was signing with the Arizona Cardinals.

Was Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph celebrating?

“Absolutely,” Joseph said when he joined Big Red Rage on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“Obviously, excitement this week in the building over there.”

The signing reunited Joseph and Watt, who were both with the Houston Texans when the team drafted Watt in 2011.

Joseph was the defensive backs coach for the first three years of Watt’s career.

“He feels cheated,” Joseph said.

“When we drafted J.J., there were kind of boos in the Houston area.”

Watt quickly turned those boos into cheers that first season, helping the Texans to a playoff berth.

“In the Week 1 of the playoffs against the Bengals he played his butt off and from that moment on, he became J.J. Watt,” Joseph said.

Watt recorded one sack and returned an interception for a touchdown in the game. The next week, Houston was knocked out of the playoffs in a loss to the Ravens, but Watt recorded 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

In his second season, Joseph had a front row view to the first Watt’s of three Defensive Player of the Year awards.

“He made his first Player of the Year award in this defense,” Joseph said. “He got a bunch of one-on-ones inside, even in the run game. He got a bunch of TFLs that year.”

Joseph is hoping Watt can contribute for a Cardinals defense that was one of 11 teams to allow more than 2,000 rushing yards last season.

His position could give him a major role in improving on that aspect.

“At the five (technique) on the strong side, he is at the point of attack,” Joseph said.

“So having a big time presence on the strong side like J.J., he will push the running back out to the Sam backer.”

With 101 career sacks on his resume, Watt is not just coming to the Valley to gobble up running backs.

He wants to take his shot at quarterbacks, too, and playing alongside edge rusher Chandler Jones gives the Cardinals one of the most formidable pass rushes in the NFL on paper.

“There’s going to be times when they are on the same side of the defense,” Joseph said.

“Most of the time having those guys split, it’s going to make the offense be honest in its protections.”

Having the flexibility to either stack Jones and Watt on the same side or split them up could give Joseph the opportunity to dictate protection schemes and keep offenses guessing on where the pressure is going to come from.

While his presence and versatility gives the defense a major weapon up front, Joseph knows he brings more to the table.

“It’s going to be a great example to watch him work, watch him study and how to be a pro,” Joseph said.

“The culture is through the players and when your best players are your best people, and your best people are your best workers, that’s your culture.”

While Watt brings more than just an All-Pro pedigree to Joseph’s defense, Joseph said the first thing Watt told him in their first conversation after the signing was, “I’m coming to dominate, first.”

Sounds like will have a chance to do that again this season, his first in Cardinals’ red.


Phillips Law Group

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