Will J.J. Watt Find Success Against Jags?


J.J. Watt, he of 48 sacks over his career. He of dominant offensive and defenses plays. He of such a caring heart.

J.J. Watt, the game changer.

Yet J.J. Watt isn’t as successful against the Jacksonville Jaguars as he is against other teams. In fact, he’s downright mortal against the Jags.

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Watt is averaging just under  a sack a game so far in 2014. He’s averaged almost a sack a game (.8) over the course of his 60 game career. He’s sacked the greats, he’s sacked the mediocre, and he’s sacked the Blaine Gabberts. But, oddly enough, he hasn’t sacked the Blaine Gabberts a whole lot.

In six games against the Jaguars (which give him plenty of experience to rely on to get to the QB) he has 5.5 sacks (slightly better than his career pace, slightly below this year’s pace). That’s fine, that’s pretty standard. He’s J.J. Watt after all.

But he’s been held without a sack twice against the Jags, including once last year. In those two games he could only account for eight tackles combined. But they bookend the three year stint against Jacksonville, so let’s look closely at the two games from last season.

The 4-12 Jaguars swept the two-win Texans last season in what should have been winnable games for Houston. J.J. Watt certainly wasn’t the problem, but he wasn’t the standard force he has been throughout his career. He had just one sack in those two games and 11 tackles. While the tackles aren’t anything to scoff at, the single sack represents development for the Jaguars (finally) against one of the best in the business.

So, can they hold Watt to a sack or less again this season?

Honestly, the Jags have already allowed more sacks this season than they did all of last year (50). They’re coming off a rough game against the New York Giants, allowing seven sacks. Their right tackle is out with injury, their left tackle is underperforming, Zane Beadles has been mediocre all year, their center is still incredibly raw, and really only guard Brandon Linder has played well all season.

Yet for Sunday’s game, I’m still seeing Watt be limited by the Jags. There’s something about divisional games between rivals and for some reason, the Jags had Watt’s number last year and I expect him to be held in check again. With RT Austin Pasztor out at right tackle, a couple of players may get a shot to prove why they are better than him (and I think it’s quite possible they will be).

It’ll be tough for the Jags’ young roster, but I am hopeful moving into the final four games of the season. I sincerely hope this isn’t going to be a three-sack spectacle to add to the two Watt has (against the Colts and Lions, respectively).