Belichick: Not a lot Watt can't do


Belichick: Not a lot Watt can't do

If you look up tackling numbers for Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, you'll see they look similar to those of 2011.

Total in 2011: 48
Total in 2012: 49

Assists in 2011: 8
Assists in 2012: 10

Impressive, especially considering the Texans still have four games left to play, including a Monday night showdown in New England this week.

If you really want your eyebrows to get a workout, look at Watt's sack statistics. In 2011, his rookie season, he had 5.5.

Though 12 games this year: 15.5. He's nearly tripled last season's total.

The number is nearly unbelievable for a 3-4 defensive end. Traditionally, players at that position are two-gappers who work to free up playmaking linebackers.

If that's the mold, Watt has shattered it. Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained how on his Tuesday conference call.

"I think Houston, even though theyre a 3-4 base, theyre really an under team in their regular defense so theyre more of a one-gap team," Belichick said. "You see five technique a lot and then when they go to sub, hes an inside rusher and theyre in sub a lot. Theyre probably in sub more than theyre in base.

"He certainly makes a lot of plays in the 3-4 defense, he has excellent quickness and hes long so he does a good job rushing against everybody the tackles, the guards and hes very effective on games because of his speed and quickness and his length and his instincts."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his offensive line best be on guard Monday night.

Watt is not just a menace to the passing game for taking down quarterbacks; the 23-year old is nicknamed "J.J. Swatt" for a very good reason: He has defended 15 passes this year.

Only five players in the league have more. All five are cornerbacks.

"Thats a career number for a lot of defensive linemen 15 in one season is remarkable, really," Belichick said. "Of course hes long and hes athletic but he does have great instincts to get in the passing lane. So, if hes getting to the quarterback and knocking him down thats one thing. If hes not, if hes getting double teamed or the slide comes to him or something like that, hes also been very disruptive in not only knocking down balls but some of those have resulted in interceptions.

"Hes really a complete player, he does everything well. But yeah, that number of batted balls is, Id say, an extremely high number. Hes very disruptive."

It doesn't hurt that the 11-1 Texans are so often ahead in games they force quarterbacks into passing situations. Those situations give Watt and his defensive teammates more opportunities.

The note isn't included to take away from Watt's talent, it's just Houston's reality. That the team has a young defensive end who takes advantage every single chance he gets . . . well, that's where opponents should worry.

Did the Texans see it coming?

They saw enough to scoop Watt up with 2011's 11th overall draft pick. But while the selection is solid, any expectations it held have been exceeded exponentially.

Belichick has his theories on why.

"I dont think he had the opportunity to do some of the things that hes had the opportunity to do in the National Football League. He was a productive player in college but a little raw, a little underdeveloped in terms of his overall football experience. But obviously as hes gained that, hes really grown with it and hes become very adept and proficient at a number of different things and techniques.

"His athletic ability and his ability to be a better technique player, to recognize things, to play instinctively and all that has grown, its grown quickly and its been very impressive. Hes taken all the athletic ability that he has and hes really played with it to a very high level."

Watt will see how his stats stack up against the Patriots in less than one week.

Quick Slants Podcast: Gostkowski’s woes with Chuck Zodda


Quick Slants Podcast: Gostkowski’s woes with Chuck Zodda

New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has now missed five kicks on the year, including field goals against the Miami, Buffalo and Cleveland. 

In an emergency podcast, Tom E. Curran speaks with Chuck Zodda of Inside The Pylon about Stephen Gostkowski’s kicking woes.

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Geno Smith has torn ACL; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start for Jets


Geno Smith has torn ACL; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start for Jets

The Jets’ quarterback situation took a comically typical turn Monday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center after an MRI revealed that Geno Smith has a torn ACL. 

After starting New York’s first six games of the season, Fitzpatrick was demoted to backup for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Smith was injured on a sack by Baltimore’s Matt Judon, forcing Fitzpatrick back into action. 

After leading the Jets to a 24-16 win, Fitzpatrick made his dissatisfaction with being benched known. 

“The biggest thing in this game in order to last, is to have belief in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said in his postgame press conference. “Because when the owner stops believing in you and the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself. That’s something that I’ve had to deal with before. That’s something I’m dealing with now.”

On the season, Fitzpatrick has completed 136 of 237 passes for 1,561 yards with six touchdowns and a league-leading 11 interceptions.