J.J. Watt is headed for illustrious but strange company

Maximize opportunity before Watt gets wasted

Houstontexans.com

Thursday the reality of what J.J. Watt is facing really hit me. The Houston Chronicle reported Watt had a minor offseason knee surgery. The last three years prove he's far from immortal, though the once incredible career is back on track. For how long, no one knows. Then I finally realized it.

J.J. Watt is on pace to be the greatest defensive player to never play for a conference championship or a Super Bowl.

I started digging into the lists of the all-time great defenders and the best pass rushers in the game's history. Most of the players who would easily be considered a great on defense have at the very least won a Lombardi. If they haven't won the big trophy they've either played or been one game away.

Two names stick out on the all-time greats list. Deacon Jones played three postseason games all in the divisional round. Dick Butkus never played in the postseason. You have to go to 24th all-time in sacks, Pat Swilling with 107.5, to find a sack leader who hasn't at least played in a conference championship or better.

It's a line on almost every great's resume and Watt's missing it.

Watt's only 30 sacks away from the top 20 in career sacks. His three defensive player of the year awards in four years cemented an era of dominance rarely matched in NFL history. He will put on the gold jacket one day. It would be bittersweet to find himself among those greats having never played in a game with that level of importance.

Unless he plays in one.

Brian Gaine and Bill O'Brien can't mess this up or they will be accessories to a sports crime: cementing Watt's place as the all-time great without a huge game to his name. The Texans enter one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. They have to find a way to protect Deshaun Watson as he's the key to making sure Watt's schedule pushes beyond 16 games each year. It's no easy task, but go do it. Make the defense's job just a little easier with some powerful offense.

Give Watt and company just a second more too with better secondary play. Help him out with a better pass rush next to him and not just opposite him. There's so many things the Texans have to get right with their massive cap space and three picks in the top two rounds.

It won't all be Gaine and O'Brien's fault if they don't do it, however they have a chance, with Watson and the rest of this team, to make sure a truly significant game appears on the schedule for Watt. Just one conference championship appearance, then, who knows. Maybe the big one and the Lombardi trophy.

Now here's a thought that will shake all Texans fans.

If the Texans don't nail it this offseason and show the next few seasons they're not legit threats, maybe Watt fills the hole in his distinguished career elsewhere. Reggie White left in his 30's. DeMarcus Ware found glory with the Broncos after a long Cowboys career. It isn't unheard of to see one franchise's legend don another team's colors.

I'm not sure what would hurt Texans fans more. Knowing Watt never played in the biggest games with the Texans or seeing him get to one of those games with another team. It's the hope neither of those things happen. There are almost never happy endings in football, but Watt's story deserves one or more of those chapters.

How did the Texans star do at 30 Rockefeller Center?

Grading J.J. Watt's SNL appearance

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

J.J. Watt hosted SNL on Saturday and he did a good job. We take a look at this performances and the skits themselves get graded overall with Watt's performance weighing heavily on how the final grade for the skit plays out.

The Monologue: A-

A good athlete monologue. A solid monologue. They did put some solid jokes in there making fun of him being an athlete. A nice brothers joke. The freaking Fox robot being his dad was a solid joke. Took some shots at himself for being out of the Super Bowl. Good solid start. NBC played Eli Manning's SNL earlier in the day and Watt easily beat Eli's opener.

Frozen 2: B-

Watt gets dinged for the overall weakness of the skit. Certainly nothing was his fault here. He was funny in his part though as Kristoff. He isn't in there a ton but has a few moments that elicited a chuckle. That wig is great.

Robbie: A

Fantastic. A parody of Rudy and this was so well done. The story of Rudy has grown over the years despite plenty of his teammates, including Joe Montana, shooting down the mystique. Watt played his part great here and the jokes kept flying.

The Sex Talk: A+++

Absolutely crushed. Knocked. It. Out. So many different quotable moments. Even had a shout out to one of Watt's sponsors. His best of the night.

Men's Product: A

Short, sweet, and to the point. An athlete-centric skit for the athlete. Well done.

Pilot Hunk: C

Nothing Watt could do with this one. He was put in a box and the writers took a chance on a Bachelor trope and it didn't really pay off. A couple of laughs but nothing sustainable and not nearly the quality of other sketches.

Madden 21: A++

This was very well done. Typical Madden talk and then hilarity ensues. Watt delivers so many funny lines in this one.

Society Debut: B

To me Watt did the best he could with this one. Pretty funny delivery as Bigfoot. Decent stuff and a light chuckle here and there.

Pizza Place: A

A riff on 1970's porno and how hilarious it would be for the delivery guy to have to keep coming back into work? Yeah that worked out pretty well. Well done on the writing and Watt playing a hard working and naive pizza boy was well done.

Overall Grade: A+

Watt didn't bomb at all on any of his roles in the show. He had some HILARIOUS moments, recovered from a hiccup or two with no issue, and did the most with what SNL gave him. Athletes typically don't get the invite back for another one but I wouldn't be shocked to see Watt pop up with some light work on TV or in movies after these performances.

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