Cardinals’ J.J. Watt making presence felt despite sack total

Oct 14, 2021, 4:10 PM
Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt runs through drills during practice Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Tem...
Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt runs through drills during practice Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — J.J. Watt was one of the Arizona Cardinals’ biggest — and one of the most surprising — additions this offseason.

The defensive lineman’s play over his career speaks for itself and the leadership he brings to a team is unquestioned.

But through five games, Watt’s sack numbers aren’t quite where many thought they would be, with the defensive lineman still without a QB takedown.

Sacks don’t tell the whole story, however, as Watt has still been a force in the trenches.

“I don’t know if there’s a name” for positive plays that don’t result in a sack, Watt said Thursday. “You can call it disruptive. … You’re just trying to wreck the game. … I think those types of plays are just as important as any other.

“There’s plenty of different things like that that make a team go and I think one of the beauties of our team is that nobody cares who gets the credit. Nobody cares who’s making the plays, we just want the plays made. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch that there’s no egos, that it’s all about, ‘How can we all do it together?'”

Watt currently leads all pass rushers in QB hits with nine. He trails only Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald (28) in total pressures with 23, according to Pro Football Focus.

On Sunday, Watt turned in his best game as a Cardinal, recording three tackles, two of which were for losses, four QB hits and a pass deflection.

Per Pro Football Focus, Watt has a pass-rushing grade of 83.9, good enough for sixth in the NFL.

And he’s doing it all playing inside, somewhere he hadn’t played in four years. Watt also missed the entirety of training camp, missing out on valuable hands-on time within the system.

“Before he came here he had lots of offers,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Thursday. “The one thing he wanted to do was win. He’s been [NFL Defensive] Player of the Year three times, he’s made Pro Bowls, he’s made a lot of money. He’s J.J. Watt.

“He’s missing one thing and that’s wearing a championship ring. … Right now, he is all in with our team and trying to do what’s best for the team. I think J.J.’s playing very well. He’s getting better and better each week. He had his best game Sunday, so I’m hoping he gets better and better once he figures out what to do within the system.”


Watt on being able to share Sunday’s win with his family:

“It was really special having my grandma at the game and being able to have her there and see her. It was my parents’ anniversary so that was cool. Sunday was cool for me because we played the game, obviously we won it, it was great. Then I went up to the suite with my parents and my grandma, and I turned my wife’s (the Chicago Red Stars’ Kealia Watt) game on because she was playing.

“For me, it was just a surreal moment, to win an NFL game and then to go up into a suite, check my brother’s (Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt) stats on the way up to the suite from his NFL game and then get to watch my wife’s professional soccer game. I’m very fortunate.”

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