The Texans have to win now for future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt.
This is the most important season in the history of the Houston Texans’ franchise for one simple reason; defensive end J.J. Watt.
Super Bowls are predicated on having your quarterback play at a very high level and putting ample pressure on the other team’s signal-caller.
Arguably as rare as a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback is a first ballot Hall of Fame pass rusher like Watt.
Much like a running back that seemingly sees their production wither and fade after the age of 30, the most prolific pass rushers have struggled at a similar point.
The NFL’s all-time sack leader, Michael Strahan had 18.5 sacks at the age of 30 but never had more than 12 again throughout the remainder of his career.
Jared Allen sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times at age 29 but like Strahan never broke 12 in a single season for the remainder of his career.
DeMarcus Ware managed 15.5 sacks at the age of 28 and then 19.5 the following year. Father time caught up with Ware just as it had to Strahan and Allen. Preventing Ware from reaching 12 sacks in a season after his 30th birthday.
There are exceptions to every rule as is the case with elite pass rushers.
Reggie White is the anomaly as he stayed productive in the opponent’s backfield long past the age of 30.
In fact, at the age of 37 White sacked opposing quarterbacks 16 times.
The NFL is different than it was in White’s day. Watt is unlikely to play into his late thirties like the “Minister of Defense” did, making Ware, Allen, and Strahan the most logical comparisons.
If Watt proves to be human as most who have come before have and his production decreases around the age of 30, the Texans have at most 2-3 good seasons with him on their roster. This inherently brings about a sense of urgency to make the most of his talents this year. This puts additional pressure on an offense that in recent years has struggled to carry its weight compared to the defense.
Much has been made about the inept quarterback play the Texans have received in their relatively brief history.
Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson may be the future of the franchise and can very well change that history, but it is clear for now that quarterback Tom Savage is the starter.
Realizing that the ceiling for Savage is not necessarily high enough to win a Super Bowl on his arm alone, the Texans should run the ball more than they throw it. Especially considering the fact that they should have one of the best backfields in the NFL with running backs Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman.
This would take the pressure off of Savage and keep Watt and the rest of the defense fresh to close out games in the fourth quarter.
For whatever reason, Houston has a long history of squandering the formidable years of some of their most prominent athletes to ever call the city home.
In baseball, the Astros never reached the World Series with Nolan Ryan, flaming out one step away against the Philadelphia Phillies and again against the New York Mets. They were swept in the 2005 World Series with Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
The Astros would never reach the fall classic during the remainder of Biggio and Bagwell’s careers after losing to the Chicago White Sox in four games.
Staying with football, the beloved Houston Oilers did next to nothing during the record-tying 14-time pro bowl career of offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
Running back Earl Campbell was selected to the Pro Bowl in five of his six years in Houston, yet never made it to a Super Bowl.
The Texans are not free and clear of wasting the Hall of Fame career of a player.
Former wide receiver Andre Johnson, who without question will someday make it to Canton, managed just four playoff games in his 12-year career in Houston.
It remains to be seen if the Texans will make the most of having one of the best, if not the best, pass rushers in NFL history or not.
Players like Watt come along once in a franchise’s history if that team is lucky. The Texans’ window is closing quickly on the face of the franchise being at the top of his game.
Here is to hoping they make the most of what time they have left with J.J. Watt.